Yale University Press
November 5, 2013
In the face of the most perilous challenges of our time – climate change, terrorism, poverty, and trafficking of drugs, guns, and people – the nations of the world seem paralyzed. The problems are too big, too interdependent, too divisive for the nation-state. Is the state, once democracy’s best hope, today democratically dysfunctional? Obsolete? The answer is yes, says Benjamin Barber in this highly provocative and original book. Cities and the mayors who run them can do, and are doing, a better job.
Barber cites the unique qualities that cities share worldwide: pragmatism, civic trust, participation, indifference to borders and sovereignty, and a democratic penchant for networking, creativity, innovation, and cooperation. He demonstrates how city mayors, singly and jointly, are responding to transnational problems more effectively than nation-states mired in ideological infighting and sovereign rivalries. Featuring profiles of the dozen courageous and innovative mayors around the world, If Mayors Ruled the World presents a compelling new vision of governance for the coming century. Barber makes a persuasive case that the city is democracy’s best hope in a globalizing world, and great mayors are already proving that this is so.
Benjamin R. Barber is a senior research scholar at the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, founder and president of the interdependence movement (“Citizens Without Borders”), and author of Jihad vs. McWorld, Consumed, Strong Democracy, and other books.