Dysfunctional government: it
has become a cliché, and most of us are resigned to the fact that nothing is
ever going to change. As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge show us, that
is a seriously limited view of things. In fact, there have been three great revolutions
in government in the history of the modern world. The West has led these revolutions,
but now we are in the midst of a fourth revolution, and it is Western
government that is in danger of being left behind.
Now, things really are
different. The West’s debt load is unsustainable. The developing world has harvested
the low-hanging fruits. Industrialization has transformed all the peasant
economies it had left to transform, and the toxic side effects of rapid developing
world growth are adding to the bill. From Washington to Detroit, from Brasilia
to New Delhi, there is a dual crisis of political legitimacy and political
The Fourth Revolution crystallizes
the scope of the crisis and points forward to our future. The authors enjoy
extraordinary access to influential figures and forces the world over, and the
book is a global tour of the innovators in how power is to be wielded. The age
of big government is over; the age of smart government has begun. Many of the
ideas the authors discuss seem outlandish now, but the center of gravity is moving
This tour drives home a
powerful argument: that countries’ success depends overwhelmingly on their
ability to reinvent the state. And that much of the West—and particularly the
United States—is failing badly in its task. China is making rapid progress with
government reform at the same time as America is falling badly behind.
Washington is gridlocked, and America is in danger of squandering its huge
advantages from its powerful economy because of failing government. And
flailing democracies like India look enviously at China’s state-of-the-art
airports and expanding universities.
The race to get government
right is not just a race of efficiency. It is a race to see which political values
will triumph in the twenty-first century—the liberal values of democracy and
liberty or the authoritarian values of command and control. The stakes could
not be higher. Download and start listening now!