Global Race To Reinvent the State

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* Book: The Fourth Revolution, The Global Race to Reinvent the State. By John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge.

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1. Simhampton in Netopia:

"in their recent book entitled The Fourth Revolution, The Global Race to Reinvent the State, John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge suggest that the picture could now change. After charting the history of the western state, the authors argue that it is living up to Plato’s two great concerns: that voters would always favour short-term benefits, and that politicians would pander to this by offering entitlements to paid for by the next (unborn) generation. But they see two contemporary phenomena that will precipitate change.

The first is an emerging Asian model of technocratic government – the book focuses mostly on China, but identifies Singapore as the intellectual origins. The key features of the model are long term planning and ruthless meritocracy.

Second is technology. In Education, Moocs create radical new economies of scale for teaching, while giving all students a chance to learn from the best teachers." (

2. From the publisher:

"In The Fourth Revolution, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge ask: what is the state actually for? Their remarkable book describes the three great revolutions in its history, and the fourth which is happening now

In most of the states of the West, disillusion with government has become endemic. Gridlock in America; anger in much of Europe; cynicism in Britain; decreasing legitimacy everywhere. Most of us are resigned to the fact that nothing is ever going to change. But as John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge show us in this galvanising book, this is a seriously limited view of things. In response to earlier crises in government, there have been three great revolutions, which have brought about in turn the nation-state, the liberal state and the welfare state. In each, Europe and America have set the example. We are now, they argue, in the midst of a fourth revolution in the history of the nation- state, but this time the Western way is in danger of being left behind.

The Fourth Revolution brings the crisis into full view and points toward 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. The front lines are in Chinese-oriented Asia, where experiments in state-directed capitalism and authoritarian modernization have ushered in an astonishing period of development. Other emerging nations are producing striking new ideas, from Brazil's conditional cash-transfer welfare system to India's application of mass-production techniques in hospitals. These governments have not by any means got everything right, but they have embraced the spirit of active reform and reinvention which in the past has provided so much of the West's comparative advantage.

The race is not just one of efficiency, but one to see which political values will triumph in the twenty-first century: the liberal values of democracy and freedom or the authoritarian values of command and control. The centre of gravity is shifting quickly, and the stakes could not be higher." (,,9780141975252,00.html)