HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the…
Loading...

The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age (original 1997; edition 2020)

by James Dale Davidson (Author), Lord William Rees-Mogg (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
262581,421 (3.83)2
Two renowned investment advisors and authors of the bestseller The Great Reckoning bring to light both currents of disaster and the potential for prosperity and renewal in the face of radical changes in human history as we move into the next century. The Sovereign Individual details strategies necessary for adapting financially to the next phase of Western civilization. Few observers of the late twentieth century have their fingers so presciently on the pulse of the global political and economic realignment ushering in the new millennium as do James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg. Their bold prediction of disaster on Wall Street in Blood in the Streets was borne out by Black Tuesday. In their ensuing bestsellar, The Great Reckoning, published just weeks before the coup attempt against Gorbachev, they analyzed the pending collapse of the Soviet Union and foretold the civil war in Yugoslavia and other events that have proved to be among the most searing developments of the past few years. In The Sovereign Individual, Davidson and Rees-Mogg explore the greatest economic and political transition in centuries -- the shift from an industrial to an information-based society. This transition, which they have termed "the fourth stage of human society," will liberate individuals as never before, irrevocably altering the power of government. This outstanding book will replace false hopes and fictions with new understanding and clarified values.… (more)
Member:cajdavidson
Title:The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age
Authors:James Dale Davidson (Author)
Other authors:Lord William Rees-Mogg (Author)
Info:Touchstone (2020), 444 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:to-read, ebook

Work Information

The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age by James Dale Davidson (1997)

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 2 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
The book's most important prediction hasn't materialized. In the end the state found a way to tax online businesses, so the big transition to a stateless society hasn't happened. The authors make a big deal of encryption. And yet we still pay taxes in 2021, even though our online purchases and online banking are all based on encrypted communication. Bummer.

Reading this 1997 book in 2021, it's tempting to think that blockchain will change things - that *now* the internet will finally be decentralized, economic activity will be untaxable, and the state will collapse. Maybe this book wasn't wrong, just early? But that's like being a marxist who sees every financial crisis as *the* ultimate crisis of capitalism. The state has adapted to disruptive technologies before - even to encryption -, it might very well adapt to blockchain and to quantum computing and to whatever comes next.

Other predictions have materialized though. The part about "cybercash" is essentially about Bitcoin - except that it predates Bitcoin by eleven years. The authors talk about how "cybercash" will make it harder for states to tax through inflation, and it is precisely in countries that have seen inflation rise in the 2010s, like Argentina and Venezuela, that Bitcoin has been most popular.

It's also hard not to think of Estonia's e-residency program, created in 2014, when the authors predict small nations competing for citizens, and that such competition wouldn't necessarily involve immigration. And it's impossible not to think about Amazon Turk and Upwork when the authors talk about technology will accelerate the transition from jobs to project-specific work - a post-Coasean economy.

Also, the authors anticipate the hordes of humanities majors and journalists with no no marketable skills who have turned against technology and capitalism:

“The nationalist and Luddite reaction will be strongest, however, not among the very poor but among persons of middling skills, underachievers with credentials, who came of age during the industrial era and face downward mobility.”

Relatedly, the authors correctly predict the multiplication of self-declared (and more or less officially recognized) "oppressed" categories. And they offer a neat theory about it: "We see the growth of victimization as mainly an attempt to buy social peace by not only widening membership in the meritocracy as [Christopher] Lash argues, but also by reconstituting the rationalizations for income redistribution."

Fake news and echo chambers are also there: "you'll even be able to order a nightly news report that simulates the news you would like to hear. [...] You'll see any story you wish, true or false, unfold on your television/computer".

It's also great to be reminded of how absurd it is to consider "fair" that "different persons should pay wildly different amounts for the services of government". Why should someone with an income of US$ 2X pay twice as much tax than someone with an income of US$ X? If anything policing wealthier neighborhoods is *cheaper* than policing poorer neighborhoods. In fact the lower your income the more likely you will use up *more* state resources, so you should pay more taxes, not less.

Finally, every now and then it's good to be reminded that our faith in democracy is no less ludicrous than a medieval peasant's faith in the Church. The authors do a good job drawing parallels between the religious myths of 1000 years ago and the civic myths of today. The state is nothing more than the stationary bandit of Mancur Olson's "Power and Prosperity" - but the mythology around the state is strong and it's easy to forget that we're all serfs. ( )
  marzagao | Jun 1, 2021 |
It gets one major detail wrong - only rich people will be sovereign (are, as this has already happened). They already only pay as much in tax as they want to and they have no homeland - just a tax haven. Otherwise gets everything else spot on. ( )
  Paul_S | Feb 27, 2021 |
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  sarahemmm | Feb 15, 2018 |
Viewing high level history through a lens of Frederic Lane's concept of the economics of violence and protection, the authors provide an interesting take on how western culture got to where it is (as at the late 1990s, when the book was written) and where it is going in the near future. Some of the predictions are well done (terrorism, nationalism, and cyber-currency) but the authors have a strong libertarian bias which colours many of their opinions, and taints much of the prose as well. The lambasting of (now historic) figures such as President Clinton anchors the book to the turn of the millennium, and I would have found the book more accessible without the references to events that seem irrelevant twenty years on.

The ultimate vision of the authors is rather terrifying. A society of super-rich, essentially unaccountable citizens of the world who have no limits to the wealth and power they can accumulate except for the actions of other super-rich sovereign individuals. The book doesn't provide any place for the poor and middle class except as serfs or retainers of the rich. Nations and the social safety nets they provide will be gone, and we will be left dwelling in city-states that compete vigorously for the attentions of a handful of mega-rich.

The book seems to indicate this is another step up on the great ladder of human progress that began when we discovered agriculture. Depending on your place in the social ladder, you might view this rather as a few step down. ( )
  Beniaminus | Nov 1, 2017 |
This book asserts that every 500 years something revolutionary happens -- life after the marker is different than it was before it. Davidson and Rees-Mogg introduce a concept called megapolitics, which states that it is possible to determine what a society will look like based on the cost of violence. When weapons of mass destruction can be produced cheaply, societies are much more violent in general. Conversely, when the weapons are expensive, more empires and a certain level of peace prevail. ( )
  JamesT | Jun 14, 2006 |
Showing 5 of 5
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Dale Davidsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rees-Mogg, Williammain authorall editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Two renowned investment advisors and authors of the bestseller The Great Reckoning bring to light both currents of disaster and the potential for prosperity and renewal in the face of radical changes in human history as we move into the next century. The Sovereign Individual details strategies necessary for adapting financially to the next phase of Western civilization. Few observers of the late twentieth century have their fingers so presciently on the pulse of the global political and economic realignment ushering in the new millennium as do James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg. Their bold prediction of disaster on Wall Street in Blood in the Streets was borne out by Black Tuesday. In their ensuing bestsellar, The Great Reckoning, published just weeks before the coup attempt against Gorbachev, they analyzed the pending collapse of the Soviet Union and foretold the civil war in Yugoslavia and other events that have proved to be among the most searing developments of the past few years. In The Sovereign Individual, Davidson and Rees-Mogg explore the greatest economic and political transition in centuries -- the shift from an industrial to an information-based society. This transition, which they have termed "the fourth stage of human society," will liberate individuals as never before, irrevocably altering the power of government. This outstanding book will replace false hopes and fictions with new understanding and clarified values.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.83)
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3 7
3.5 1
4 5
4.5 1
5 4

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 166,245,490 books! | Top bar: Always visible