Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy Is Threatening Our Future Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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A comprehensive look at the world of illicit trade
Though mankind has traded tangible goods for millennia, recent technology has changed the fundamentals of trade, in both legitimate and illegal economies. In the past three decades, the most advanced forms of illicit trade have broken with all historical precedents and, as Dark Commerce tells, now operate as if on steroids, tied to computers and social media. In this new world of illicit commerce, which benefits states and diverse participants, trade is impersonal and anonymized, and vast profits are made in short periods with limited accountability to sellers, intermediaries, and purchasers.
Louise Shelley examines how new technology, communications, and globalization fuel the exponential growth of dangerous forms of illegal trade - the markets for narcotics and child pornography online, the escalation of sex trafficking through web advertisements, and the sale of endangered species for which revenues total in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The illicit economy exacerbates many of the world’s destabilizing phenomena: the perpetuation of conflicts, the proliferation of arms and weapons of mass destruction, and environmental degradation and extinction. Shelley explores illicit trade in tangible goods - drugs, human beings, arms, wildlife and timber, fish, antiquities, and ubiquitous counterfeits - and contrasts this with the damaging trade in cyberspace, where intangible commodities cost consumers and organizations billions as they lose identities, bank accounts, access to computer data, and intellectual property.
Demonstrating that illicit trade is a business the global community cannot afford to ignore and must work together to address, Dark Commerce considers diverse ways of responding to this increasing challenge.
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 26 minutes|
|Author||Louise I. Shelley|
|Audible.ca Release Date||November 13 2018|
|Publisher||Princeton University Press|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #162,431 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#148 in Economics of Exports & Imports
#153 in Exports & Imports (Books)
#175 in International Political Relations
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“This criminal activity is of major concern to Americans as tens of thousands of Americans die annually from narcotics sale online,” Shelley commented. “Moreover, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many more individuals’ lives are placed at risk through the sale of counterfeit medicines and PPE equipment.”
Dark Commerce provides a cornucopia of wake-up calls and at least one of those should grab the attention of the reader. I give only four stars as each of those clearly presented and important topics could be a book in itself (I skimmed over some while wanting more on others).
Prof. Shelley states that in some areas of the world, counterfeit pharmaceuticals are at a level of 30% or more. Given the pandemic, it is likely that the levels are now higher. I hope Prof. Shelley has the energy to follow-up on that issue, particularly regarding the ability to manufacture and deliver high-quality vaccines when faced with dark forces [see Update above]. In the US, FBI resources have been prioritized to address threats to democracy that arose during the pandemic, which has allowed Covid-19 PPE and other crime to proliferate. Some of the hardest hit in the US are the indigenous communities, many already suffering at the hands of money launderers and drug and human traffickers. Akin to diamonds, indigenous arts and crafts became tools to wash money to fund foreign conflicts (terrorism), at times intertwined with drug trade (hooking artists on drugs). Some communities became one-stop shops for multiple forms of dark commerce.
In summary, Prof. Shelley's book presents a compelling, historical overview of dark commerce and its damage to humans and the environment. Issues highlighted are mirrored in her US Congressional Testimony, which rightly points out that ordinary consumers can play a role and that more resources should be devoted to consumer (and business) awareness of dark commerce. To increase awareness, maybe better to buy the hardcopy version and pass it along to a friend.
Co-founder of Transparency International, the global anti-corruption organization.