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The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State Paperback – 18 Jun 2015
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Brilliantly incisive ... sparkling (Daniel Johnson Standpoint)
The cost of government is no longer an ivory-tower whinge . . . [a] splendid diatribe (Simon Jenkins Mail on Sunday)
About the Author
John Micklethwait is the Editor-in-Chief of The Economist; Adrian Wooldridge was its Washington bureau chief until 2009, and now serves as Management Editor and 'Schumpeter' columnist. They have written fi ve previous books together: The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea; A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Promise of Globalization; The Witchdoctors: Making Sense of the Management Gurus; The Right Nation: Why America is Different; and God is Back: How theGlobal Rise of Faith is Changing the World.
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They also make a reasonable case for why the social contract between individual and State probably needs to be revised and are even quite creative when it comes to suggesting how this could take place.
The book is full of "Economist-like" quotations and statistics. Many are not properly sourced, seem questionable and the book could benefit tremendously from a few tables, charts and more rigorous analysis to support its recommendations. Having read the book you end up thinking "interesting, but weak and unsupported argumentation".
I have noted that there are a few 1 Star ratings. Some of these seem to suggest that the book takes the view that the US and Europe should emulate the Chinese economic model. Obviously the reviewer has never read the book!
It is also important to understand that the authors are politically liberal (in the UK sense of the word and with small L) and not libertarian.
The book begins largely as a philosophical examination of the early theorists of the state, mostly Thomas Hobbes and John Stuart Mill, and proceeds with a history of both the development of the modern welfare state and the comparative state models worldwide, notably China, USA, Scandinavia and France.
The book offers a conclusion that the current model of the state is unsustainable, and offer policy prescriptions, such as sunset clauses in legislation, and making government more representative of the people.
Readers of different political persuasions may not initially like the books viewpoints, nor recommendations, but even in disagreement, the staunchest critics will be unable to deny the well researched and informed nature of this book.
However, a key strength of The Fourth Revolution is it's readability. Therefore, one has the best of both worlds, a scholarly, yet highly readable book.
Written by two writers from The Economist, it should be compulsory reading for all politicians of all colours or anyone with an interest in how Government should be run!
However I recommend the book as a starting point in understanding our options for ensuring we can provide a future that supports our current living standatrds.