Micklethwait and Wooldridge (co-authors: God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World, 2009, etc.), editor in chief and management editor, respectively, of the Economist, anticipate a coming revolution in methods of government on par with the emergence of the welfare state after World War II.
The authors represent the British brand of liberalism, which is actually closer to what many Americans call conservatism, on such issues as social welfare, government finance and debt. They offer a broad review of the evolution of governments over the last three or four centuries as a backdrop to their envisioned future state, which includes elements now emerging in Singapore, China and India, as well as Denmark and Sweden. Initially, the authors focus on the education of future government elites in the technical management skills required to address the increasing challenges of globalization. The Chinese program “is about delivering efficient government in the here and now, about providing cheap health care and disciplined schools.” Examples from Denmark and Sweden show how the “one-size- fits-all offerings” of the social-democratic welfare state are being transformed by incorporating autonomy and initiative modeled from the private sector and opening up state-operated services like health care. India's plentiful and cheap labor force provides a platform for a new phase of globalization. The United States and European Union figure in this model more as problems than participants. The American “mess” is “becoming increasingly costly,” write the authors, “taking a toll on America’s image—and, by extension, democracy’s image—abroad.” Micklethwait and Wooldridge stress that China now believes there is less to be gained from studying the West but much for the West to fear as China sets out to transform government as it did capitalism a few decades ago.
A different, provocative view of the challenge emerging in Asia.