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Books > Business & Money > Economics > Economic History > B00KCY5388
  1. The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State
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  2. The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State

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From the best-selling authors of The Right Nation, a visionary argument that our current crisis in government is nothing less than the fourth radical transition in the history of the nation-state. Dysfunctional government: It' s 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 effectiveness.

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 quickly. 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 21st century - the liberal values of democracy and liberty or the authoritarian values of command and control. The stakes could not be higher.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge's book 'The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to reinvent the State' has some expansive ambitions. Claiming that government has become too bloated and inefficient, the authors seek nothing less than to reform it, advocating for leaner more effective governments. Comparing Western governments to East Asian governments such as Singapore, and China, they feel that the west is losing ground to the east in the race to make government leaner and more effective.

The book is titled the 'fourth revolution' because the authors believe that we have had 3 and a half revolutions before our current stage. As another reviewer on Amazon pointed out, the first revolution was brought about by Thomas Hobbes, through his idea of a contract between government and the people. The two revolutions that most impact our current age, are the rise of the welfare state linked to the ideas of Beatrice Webb, and the influence of Milton Friedman on the policies... Read more
As a journalistic account of the various experiments in government, this book is good. Assessing the sad state of US governance, in all its aspects, it is adequate. For comprehending what contemporary governing has to accomplish it is poor. This book, as one would expect from writers of popular establishment financial magazines is still buried under 17th Century notions of Individual rights and the beneficence of market economies -- shibboleths of the now traditional right. This book provides no insight into the state of human volition in this century.
That volition has to be the concern of government: fostering the ability of humans to collaborate in the generation of productive processes that support the vitality of humans, other creatures and the earth, and do so with the awareness of what each person's actions, or more, responsibilities are for that whole. Individual rights, conceived as the right to accumulate, the right to keep what one "earns," the right to act out... Read more
John and Adrian write a compelling book on how to reform the state, which is in much need or a redo. However, I feel that there is more to the story than the two authors lay out. When talking about teachers, for example, they sing the gospel of charter schools and private enterprise running schools, but fail to mention that a school is as only as good as the teachers who are in it. The Nordic countries have a highers standard of entry into the teaching profession than America does, which raises the quality of education. They talk down to Obamacare in the book but also sing the gospel of it in The Economist, which Micklethwait was the editor. Also, the two need to brush up on their American History, which is not only a problem in the book but in the magazine as well. Otherwise, it is a good book for serious reformers. A bitter pill for left-of-center voters like myself, but as they said in the book: The first step to solve a problem is to admit you have a problem.
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