World on Fire

World on Fire

How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability

Book - 2003
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Random House, Inc.
Every few years, a book is published about America's role in the world and the changing contest of global affairs that gets everyone thinking in a new way. Amy Chua's WORLD ON FIRE will have exactly that kind of impact on the debate of how the world has changed in light of the events of last September.

Apostles of globalization, such as Thomas Friedman, believe that exporting free markets and democracy to other countries will increase peace and prosperity throughout the developing world; Amy Chua is the anti-Thomas Friedman. Her book wil be a dash of cold water in the face of globalists, techno-utopians, and liberal triumphalists as she shows that just the opposite has happened: When global markets open, ethnic conflict worsens and politics turns ugly and violent.

Drawing on examples from around the world--from Africa and Asia to Russia and Latin America--Chua examines how free markets do not spread wealth evenly throughout the whole of these societies. Instead they produce a new class of extremely wealthy plutocrats--individuals as rich as nations. Almost always members of a minority group--Chinese in the Philippines, Croatians in the former Yugoslavia, whites in Latin America, Indians in East Africa, Jews in post-communist Russia--these "market-dominant minorities" have become targets of violent hatred. Adding democracy to this volatile mix unleashes supressed ethnic hatreds and brings to power ethnonationalist governments that pursue aggressive policies of confiscation and revenge. Chua further shows how individual countries are often viewed as dominant minorities, explaining the phenomena of ethnic resentment in the Arab-Israeli conflict and the rising tide of anti-American sentiment around the world. This more than anything accounts for the visceral hatred of Americans that has been expressed in recent acts of terrorism.

Bold and original, WORLD ON FIRE is a perceptive examination of the far-reaching effects of exporting capitalism with democracy and its potentially catastrophic results.

Baker & Taylor
Describes the potential dangers of globalization and the exportation of free-market democracy, arguing that they do not spread wealth evenly and produce increased ethnic conflict, violence, ethnonationalism, and other disastrous results.

Book News
The pursuit of free markets in the developing world tends to concentrate wealth in the hands of a minority, leading invariably to one of three forms of backlash, argues Chua (Yale Law School). Contrary to neoliberal orthodoxy, free markets and democracy do not necessarily coincide, she contends. She describes cases where the concentration of wealth among an "outsider" minority leads to an ethnically targeted anti-market backlash (Mugabe's Zimbabwe), an anti- democracy backlash favorable to the market-dominant minority (Marcos's Philippines), or violent backlash directed against the market-dominant minority itself (Rwanda). She argues for the promotion of market democracy, but cautions against an "unrestrained" approach. Annotation (c) Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

Drawing on examples from around the world, the author describes the potential dangers of globalization and the exportation of free-market democracy, arguing that they do not spreak wealth evenly through a society but instead produce a class of wealthy plutocrats, as well as increased ethnic conflict, violence, ethnonationalism, and other potentially disastrous results.

Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 2003
ISBN: 9780385503020
Branch Call Number: 303.6 CHUA


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May 10, 2013

An excellent book. My only major quibble is the use of the term, "free market" - - as everyone should know by 2013 (even Matt Taibbi [Rolling Stone] has finally come to this conclusion) is that when all the markets are rigged, there is no such thing as a "free market." Ms. Chua still writes a superlative book. [During the time Bill Clinton was president and globalization really took off - - NAFTA, GATT, WTO, WTO Finanacial Services Agreement with the Fifth Protocol - - inequality in America greatly increased, which was really no surprise.]


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Mar 27, 2012

dl1012 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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