NONZERO  THE LOGIC OF HUMAN DESTINY  By  ROBERT WRIGHT
Home Thumbnail Summary Introduction Table of Contents and Excerpts Excerpts from Reviews About the Author Buy the Book
 

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON'S REMARKS ON NONZERO

Speaking at the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival, May, 2001:
Last year I read a book which influenced me greatly by a man named Robert Wright.  It’s called Nonzero, and, did you ever read a book where somebody says what you’ve been thinking, and you immediately decide the author is a genius?  We’ve all done it.  Because this person puts something, that you’ve been thinking and feeling but could never quite say, in the way you wish you could have said it.

Speaking at the anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords, Nov., 2001, on C-SPAN:
 
“Last year I read a book that described the way the world works in ways better than I can, but I completely agree with it.... The title of this book is Nonzero.  The author is Robert Wright.  And if you haven’t read it, I urge you to get it and read it.” 

Speaking at the Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC, Sept., 2000:
There is an astonishing new book out, been out a few months, by a man named Robert Wright, called Nonzero--kind of a weird title unless you're familiar with game theory. But in game theory, a zero-sum game is one where, in order for one person to win, somebody has to lose. A non-zero-sum game is a game in which you can win and the person you're playing with can win, as well. And the argument of the book is that, notwithstanding all the terrible things that happened in the 20th century--the abuses of science by the Nazis, the abuses of organization by the communists, all the things that continue to be done in the name of religious or political purity--essentially, as societies grow more and more connected, and we become more interdependent, one with the other, we are forced to find more and more non-zero-sum solutions. That is, ways in which we can all win.

 And that's basically the message I've been trying to preach for eight years here...We have to have an expanding idea of who is in our family. And we in the United States, because we're so blessed, have particular responsibilities to people not only within our borders who have been left behind, but beyond our borders who otherwise will never catch up if we don't do our part. Because we are all part of the same human family, and because, actually, life is more and more a non-zero-sum game, so that the better they do, the better we'll do. (Applause.)

 Interview with Wired magazine, December, 2000:
"But I basically buy the argument of Robert Wright's new book, Nonzero. . . .  [It's] sort of a reverse social Darwinism: the more complex societies get and the more complex the networks of interdependence within and beyond community and national borders get, the more people are forced in their own interests to find non-zero-sum solutions. That is, win-win solutions instead of win-lose solutions."

Speaking at the Hay Adams Hotel, Washington, DC, Sept., 2000
The best book I read in the last few months is a book called Nonzero, by Robert Wright. He wrote another book a few years ago called The Moral Animal that was a bestseller. I will oversimplify, at the risk of being criticized by the author, the argument of the book... As societies grow more complex in their inter-relation, and more interdependent both within and beyond their borders, people in positions of authority and citizens at the grass-roots level are forced to look constantly for more non-zero-sum solutions, hence the title of the book... It's a very interesting book, and not naive. I mean, he acknowledges, even in the most sort of cooperative societies, you've got an election, one person wins the presidency, the other one doesn't. One person gets to be head of AOL, somebody doesn't.  

But the argument of the book is far more sophisticated. It is that to succeed, even in positions of leadership, where there is a competition for the position, the measure of success is not so much whether you won at somebody else's expense, but whether you got what you wanted because you enabled other people to achieve their dreams and to do what they want.

 And I think the idea that we are moving toward a world where more and more, we will find our own victories in other people's victories, because our interdependence forces us to seek non-zero-sum solutions--is a very helpful way to think about dealing with most social problems; and frankly, some economic challenges, like global debt relief and things like that.