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The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race To Reinvent the State

Friday May 2014


John Micklethwait Editor-in-Chief, Economist
Adrian Wooldridge Management Editor & Schumpeter Columnist, Economist

The state is in trouble—in the West and across the emerging world. To adapt, government will have to change dramatically over the coming decades. A revolution is in the air.

In The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge—editor-in-chief of the Economist and the paper’s management editor and Schumpeter columnist, respectively—make a provocative case that government as we know it is dying, and a new form is being born.

There have been three great transformations in government in the history of the modern world—all in the West. But now as we face a fourth revolution, the West is being left behind.

Staggering government debt, technological and managerial advances, and competition between nation-states are all driving this new revolution, and Micklethwait and Wooldridge offer a fascinating global tour of today’s leading innovators in the exercise of power. New approaches to effective governance are flourishing in surprising places, some of them—as in the case of authoritarian China and Singapore—with problematic implications.

The race to get government right is not just a quest for efficiency. It is a test to see which political values will triumph in the 21st Century: the liberal values of democracy and liberty, or the authoritarian values of command and control.