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From the bestselling authors of "The Right Nation," a visionaryargument that our current crisis in government is nothing less than thefourth radical transition in the history of the nation-state
Dysfunctional government: It's become a cliche, and most of us are resigned to the fact that nothingis ever going to change. As John Micklethwait andAdrian Wooldridge show us, that is a seriouslylimited view of things. In fact, there have beenthree great revolutions in government in thehistory of the modern world. The West has led theserevolutions, but now we are in the midst of a fourthrevolution, and it is Western government that is indanger of being left behind.
Now, things really are different. The West's debtload is unsustainable. The developing world hasharvested the low-hanging fruits. Industrializationhas transformed all the peasant economies it hadleft to transform, and the toxic side effects of rapiddeveloping world growth are adding to the bill.From Washington to Detroit, from Brasilia to NewDelhi, there is a dual crisis of political legitimacy andpolitical effectiveness.
"The Fourth Revolution" crystallizes the scope of thecrisis and points forward to our future. The authorsenjoy extraordinary access to influential figures andforces the world over, and the book is a global tourof the innovators in how power is to be wielded.The age of big government is over; the age of smartgovernment has begun. Many of the ideas theauthors discuss seem outlandish now, but the centerof gravity is moving quickly.
This tour drives home a powerful argument: that countries success depends overwhelmingly ontheir ability to reinvent the state. And that muchof the West and particularly the United States is failing badly in its task. China is making rapidprogress with government reform at the same timeas America is falling badly behind. Washington isgridlocked, and America is in danger of squanderingits huge advantages from its powerful economybecause of failing government. And flailingdemocracies like India look enviously at China sstate-of-the-art airports and expanding universities.
The race to get government right is not just arace of efficiency. It is a race to see which politicalvalues will triumph in the twenty-first century the liberal values of democracy and liberty or theauthoritarian values of command and control. Thestakes could not be higher.