The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State | John Micklethwait & Adrian Woolbridge | 2014 | 320 pages
Economist writers John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolbridge team up to deliver an argument that the world’s nation states are entering a ‘fourth revolution’ of transformation from its current post-WWII political structure [the first revolution- that of the centralized state that arose in the seventeenth century; the second- regal patronage systems replaced by more meritocratic and accountable governments in the 18/19th centuries; and the he third- the rise of the welfare state in the 19th/early 20th centuries.]
Focusing heavily on the lift the Chinese have achieved in moving from an agrarian police state to a high efficiency ‘state capitalism’ model in the course of a generation, the authors argue that a new era of ‘smart government’ is in the offing. The West has led the previous three state/political 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, they argue.
While an excellent summation of global trends and eminently readable, The Fourth Revolution devolves a bit heavily into ideology and conjectural solutions that don’t feel workable- like reorganizing liberal democracy into a sort of statist capitalism worshiping efficiency over all including- at its worst- free will. I’d recommend this as an airplane read; no more no less.