- Gebundene Ausgabe: 608 Seiten
- Verlag: Allen Lane (5. Oktober 2017)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0241290465
- ISBN-13: 978-0241290460
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,2 x 4,1 x 24 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 1 Kundenrezension
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 228.463 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power (Englisch) Gebundenes Buch – 5. Oktober 2017
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Silicon Valley needed a history lesson and Ferguson has provided it (Eric Schmidt)
Niall Ferguson writes big, muscular books with high-concept ideas that target current concerns through the prism of the past. They are pull-yourself-together warnings to the present by way of arresting historical precedent... Ferguson's breadth of learning is impressive (Andrew Anthony Guardian)
This is an immensely stimulating historical tour d'horizon...an absorbing Cook's tour of the past combined with an illuminating polemic about the current digital revolution. (David Goodhart Standpoint)
Most history is hierarchical: it's about popes, presidents, and prime ministers. But what if that's simply because hierarchies create the historical archives? What if we are missing equally powerful but less visible networks-leaving them to the conspiracy theorists, with their dreams of all-powerful Illuminati?
The twenty-first century has been hailed as the Networked Age. But in The Square and the Tower Niall Ferguson argues that social networks are nothing new. From the printers and preachers who made the Reformation to the freemasons who led the American Revolution, it was the networkers who disrupted the old order of popes and kings. Far from being novel, our era is the Second Networked Age, with the personal computer in the role of the printing press.
Those looking forward to a utopia of interconnected 'netizens' may therefore be disappointed. For networks are prone to clustering, contagions, and even outages. And the conflicts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries already have unnerving parallels today, in the time of Facebook, Islamic State and Trumpworld.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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Essentially, the core idea in this book is that the role and influence of social networks throughout history has been downplayed by historians because of their reliance on state archives which tend to stress the role of hierarchies. Because of this, the rise in the power of social networks spawned by the computer age is mistakenly thought to be an entirely new phenomenon. In fact, argues Ferguson, the struggle between networks and hierarchies is at least as old as human history.
To marshal support for this argument Ferguson begins the book with a summary of network theory. He then retells the story of modernity from this perspective leading up to an ultimate chapter considering the future of human civilization. You certainly cannot say that Ferguson aims too small.
There are some unresolved tensions in this narrative. Some of the chapters rely on real applications of network theory while some are more anecdotal. This is because the idea of what is a social network seems to grow more and more
expansive. Eventually, Ferguson writes that hierarchies themselves are a type of social network. Of course, he is right in a sense, but this tends to blunt the paradigm of a dichotomy between networks and hierarchies. In addition, if every relationship between human beings is a social network then network theory does explain all of human history. But isn’t this basically then a tautology?
Ferguson also goes on many tangents. For example, his vociferous arguments that the culture of Islam is a key element of Arab terrorism versus seeing terrorists as fanatics from any religion does not seem to really be central to the book’s themes.
Nevertheless, Ferguson has either achieved a landmark accomplishment in the telling of history, with important consequences for our current societies, or he has overstressed the importance of networks in modern history. That is a question for professional historians to decide. To become acquainted with this perspective, to see new technologies and new forms of communication through this lens, is something all persons with some share of responsibility for society should at least consider. And, I might add, the book is fun and insightful reading for armchair intellectuals as well.
According to Ferguson there have been two periods in which networks empowered by new technology, enabling ideas to spread virally, have been massively disruptive of established hierarchical structures, namely, the late fifteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century, powered by the printing press, and from the 1970s to the present day, powered by the personal computer and the internet.
There is obviously much to be said for this point of view. As Ferguson says, “Without Gutenberg, Luther might well have become just another heretic whom the Church burned at the stake, like Jan Hus”, although doesn’t this mean that it would be better to paraphrase Marx and Engels to read that the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of new technologies? There’s also the fact that Luther would almost certainly have burnt at the stake had it not been for the protection which he received from the Saxon princes, Frederick the Wise (1483-1525) and his brother John the Constant (1468-1532). Ferguson does not mention this fact, although he does refer to the crucial role of the princes of the Schmalkaldic League (formed in 1531) in consolidating Protestant gains. As German princes can obviously be taken both to embody hierarchy within their realms and to constitute a network when they form a league, this suggests another problem with Ferguson’s thesis, namely, that whereas towers and squares are clearly sharply delineated the concepts they symbolise for Ferguson are often anything but.
This is not to say that ‘The Square and the Tower’ is a bad book. On the contrary, like anything written by Ferguson it is brimming with bright ideas expressed with great flair. Ferguson - like David Cannadine - is living proof that it is possible to write prolifically, persuasively and profoundly for a popular audience. But whilst this book provides many insights and makes one consider the past in a new light I do not think its prism is sufficiently luminous to win many long-term converts.
I found that I would sit back after every 10 pages or so and ask myself how can I apply the idea just presented or where have I seen it happen - this is a book that demands you take the time and devote the mind energy to read it, it is well worth it.