08 November 2012
Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century
Nicolas Berggruen & Nathan Gardels
Why have the Western democracies found it so difficult to reach long-term solutions to persistent problems of social welfare and productivity? What lessons does China have to teach about raising citizens out of poverty? Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels challenge East and West to learn from each other before it is too late.
For decades, liberal democracy has been extolled as the best system of governance to have emerged out of the long experience of history. Today, such a confident assertion is far from self-evident. Democracy, in crisis across the West, must prove itself.
In the West today, the authors argue, we no longer live in “industrial democracies,” but in “consumer democracies” in which the short-term governing ethos has ended up drowning households and governments in debt and resulted in paralyzing partisanship. In contrast, the longterm focus of the decisive leadership of China is boldly moving its nation into the future. But China also faces challenges arising from its meteoric rise. Its burgeoning middle class will increasingly demand more participation, greater government accountability, and an extension of
the rule of law.
As the 21st century unfolds, both of these core systems of the global order must contend with a genuinely multi-polar world where no single power dominates and in which societies themselves are becoming increasingly diverse. Meeting these unprecedented challenges requires a new system of “intelligent governance” which devolves power and meaningfully involves citizens in matters of their competence to reconcile knowledgeable democracy with accountable meritocracy.
This timely volume is both a conceptual and a practical guide of impressive scope to the challenges of good governance as the world continues to undergo profound transformation in the coming decades.
Nicolas Berggruen is the founder and president of Berggruen Holdings, a private investment company, and the Berggruen Institute on Governance, a think tank devoted to addressing governance issues.
Nathan Gardels is a senior advisor at the Berggruen Institute, editor of New Perspectives Quarterly, and editor in chief, Global Services, Los Angeles Times Syndicate.