Opportunism

How to Change the World--One Idea at a Time

Shraga F. Biran

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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In this bold and forward-looking book, an Israeli civic leader shows how reorienting our society to make the most of “opportunity” could restore the global economy to health—and give added value to the contributions of the new class of knowledge workers.

For most of us, opportunism is a tainted concept. Shraga F. Biran thinks otherwise. He shows that our present economy favors the wealthy few more than at any point in history. But such an economy is both unstable and outmoded, unable to recognize the true value of the work done by the new knowledge class, whose commerce is in ideas, not financial assets. This is why most of us have seen no real gains from the spectacular increases in paper wealth during the past three decades.

Biran sees a transformative new way in Opportunism. In today’s economy, he argues, the way to thrive is to create an opportunity and make the most of it. With great passion, he proposes that we as a society should establish a “right of opportunity,” akin to patents and copyrights, enabling all members of society to lay claim to their ideas and benefit from them financially. Thus empowered, the new opportunists can help bring about a revolution in applied knowledge on the scale of the Industrial Revolution— and a more just, stable, and prosperous society.

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1
 
Opportunity Has Never Had an Opportunity
 
The world is on the brink of a new economic and social era. The changes taking place are so fundamental that they point to the emergence of nothing less than a new civilization in which human intellect and creativity will be the central source of wealth and prosperity for all. Few have recognized its scope and profound significance for the economic, social, political, legislative, and regulatory changes that it will entail.
We want to revitalize the classical ideas of private property and public ownership to provide an economic

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Praise for Opportunism

“In a time when creativity and innovation, not manufacturing and industry, are creating real value, society must enable all citizens to lay claim to their ideas and benefit from them financially, argues this sprightly manifesto…. Though opportunism—that cagey ability to take advantage of a fortuitous constellation of time, place, and one’s own abilities—has a bad name, it's an essential tool for change, and our current economic climate has opened up opportunities that governments and individuals must investigate.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“Shraga Biran's compelling new book shakes conventional wisdom and provides a roadmap to understanding how social and intellectual capital are the 21st century drivers for economic growth. His careful intellectual history and breakthrough insights create a new definition of property rights that lead to real-world recommendations from an original and creative economic thinker. This is a brilliant and engaging treatise that will inspire business and public policies that bridge the unsustainable social and economic gaps in our global economy.” —Glenn Yago, Executive Director, Financial Research, Milken Institute / Visiting Professor and Dean's Fellow, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Graduate School of Business

Tel Aviv–based entrepreneur/lawyer Biran explores avenues to ameliorate the vast gap between the haves and the have-nots.

The author takes a look at capitalism and its legal/political underpinnings and finds it lacking: so many outmoded legal constraints, an economy that still touts the free-market panacea and a political system that fails at nearly every measure of social decency. Times have changed, and Biran sees that as an opportunity. Opportunism may have a bad name, but consider it as an individual or group foreseeing an outcome from a particular constellation of facts, circumstances, events and conditions and acting to bring about that outcome. This is the burgeoning creative sector of the economy, and it provides great opportunity for a variety of jobs, including scientists, engineers, architects, designers, writers, artists, musicians and others. However, before the wealth it generates can be co-opted by the politically connected, deep-pocket haves, writes Biran, we need a way of regulating the accumulation and distribution of new capital and the equitable access to national assets. The author does not espouse the destruction of the essential meaning of private property. Rather, he suggests reforming intellectual-property law to include a more rangy definition, one that starts with the nascent idea, not the finished product. He also explains how communal economic rights can be served by social privatization of state assets—not through wholesale sell-off to elites, but along the lines of the Homestead Act and the Internet, or through licensing. Occasionally, Biran finds himself at knotty junctures: The dot-com explosion enriched "junior engineers, salesmen, and even secretaries," yet "a handful of creative entrepreneurs and their financiers had cleared billions, and the rest were left with the crumbs." Though the definition of "intellectual property" is hazy, Biran senses the possibilities—the opportunism, as it were—through the haze.

Valuable considerations to tap the latent, community-wide benefits of a newly vitalized economic terrain.

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About the Author

Shraga F. Biran

Shraga F. Biran is the founder of one of Israel’s leading law firms and an entrepreneur specializing in energy and international real estate. He lives in Tel Aviv.

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Available Formats and Book Details

Opportunism
How to Change the World--One Idea at a Time
Shraga F. Biran

Hardcover

Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
January 2011
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780374175788
ISBN10: 0374175780
6 x 9 inches, 224 pages, Selected Bibliography and an Index
$25.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
January 2011
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429919326
ISBN10: 1429919329
224 pages
$11.99
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