Freeman

BOOK REVIEW

Book Review: The Twilight of Sovereignty: How The Information Revolution is Transforming Our World by Walter B. Wriston

Information knows no boundaries and the market is world-wide.

JULY 01, 1993 by PERRY E. GRESHAM

 

This new book by Walter Wriston, The Twilight of Sovereignty, is a clear overview of our present predicament. We are in a global market without full realization of its implications. Petrarch and Boccaccio, Lorenzo and the Medici did not know they were in the Renaissance. The name was applied by historians who looked back on a previous time in world events.

Nor did Adam Smith, James Watt, Alessandro Volta, and Thomas Edison think of themselves as the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution. There were great dislocations involved, but they were not understood in perspective. As we look back at those eras, we see the periods as the great transitions which they were, and we give them names.

Today we are in the cybernetic revolution. Information knows no boundaries. The market is world-wide. Technology has enabled us to perform the same tasks with many fewer people. This means a certain amount of unemployment. It also signals a new demand for entrepreneurs and new skills. Wriston recognizes intelligence and learning to be the most valuable capital of any business or government.

Leonard Read wrote an essay, “I, Pencil,” which portrayed the interdependence of our modern market. Wriston does the same thing with automobiles. He shows up the fallacy of our modern mistaken demand for keeping all work, sales, purchases, jobs, and money within our own borders.

No nation can control its own information or its own money. When the market opens in New York it is open to the world at the same time. Information knows no borders. Tokyo, London, Paris, and Berlin are involved in our market as we are in theirs. The market is global.

From his pinnacle of world finance as CEO of Citicorp, Walter Wriston was acutely aware of all of these global factors. His book understands our present predicament, and suggests ways the market can operate if it is free from government domination.

Governments and corporations alike are losing their sovereignty. Wise leaders will recognize this, and there will be a rebirth of individual liberty in a world-wide context.

Dr. Gresham is President Emeritus of Bethany College and a Trustee Emeritus of The Foundation for Economic Education.

ASSOCIATED ISSUE

July 1993

comments powered by Disqus

EMAIL UPDATES

* indicates required

CURRENT ISSUE

December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
Download Free PDF

PAST ISSUES

SUBSCRIBE

RENEW YOUR SUBSCRIPTION

Essential Works from FEE

Economics in One Lesson (full text)

By HENRY HAZLITT

The full text of Hazlitt's famed primer on economic principles: read this first!


By FREDERIC BASTIAT

Frederic Bastiat's timeless defense of liberty for all. Once read and understood, nothing ever looks the same.


By F. A. HAYEK

There can be little doubt that man owes some of his greatest suc­cesses in the past to the fact that he has not been able to control so­cial life.


By JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Leonard Read took the lessons of entrepreneurship with him when he started his ideological venture.


By LEONARD E. READ

No one knows how to make a pencil: Leonard Read's classic (Audio, HTML, and PDF)