The rise of populism in the West and the rise of China in the East have stirred a rethinking of how democratic systems work—and how they fail. The impact of globalism and digital capitalism is forcing worldwide attention to the starker divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” challenging how we think about the social contract. Renovating Democracy tears down our basic structures and challenges us to conceive of an alternative framework for governance.
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Nathan Gardels is Cofounder of the Berggruen Institute and Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost, a partnership with the Washington Post. He is the coauthor of Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century: A Middle Way between East and West, a Financial Times best book of 2012. His previous books include American Idol after Iraq, The Changing Global Order and At Century’s End.
Nicolas Berggruen is Founder and Chairman of the Berggruen Institute. He is coauthor of Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century: A Middle Way between West and East and is copublisher of The WorldPost. He is also Chairman of Berggruen Holdings.
“Democracy is in crisis. The rise of populism and nativism has been propelled by social media and propaganda. This fascinating and timely book provides great ideas—sometimes even radical ones—for reclaiming democracy by using social media to bring us together and inform us, rather than the opposite. It offers welcome antidotes to the polarization and paralysis that threatens our society.”—Walter Isaacson
Democracy is in crisis. The populist uprisings in the US and throughout Europe are not the cause of the West’s crisis of governance, but, rather, have exposed the ways in which liberal democracies have failed their citizens by failing to address the dislocations of globalization and the disruptions of rapid technological change. Neither establishment nor populist leaders have proposed any systemic solutions, so governments have become further polarized and paralyzed, compounding the problem.
In Renovating Democracy: Governing in the Age of Globalization and Digital Capitalism Nathan Gardels and Nicolas Berggruen – founders of a think tank and publishers of a Washington Post-affiliated media platform – argue that if we are to save democracy from suicide, we must radically renovate our democratic institutions, our social contract, and our approach to globalization. Specifically, they propose:
• Empowering participation without populism by integrating social networks and direct democracy into the system through the establishment of new mediating institutions that complement representative government
• Reconfiguring the social contract to protect workers instead of jobs while spreading the wealth of digital capitalism by providing all citizens not only with the skills of the future but also with an equity share in “owning the robots”
• Harnessing globalization through “positive nationalism” at home, global cooperation where necessary, and partnership where interests converge to temper the strategic rivalry between China and the US
Gardels and Berggruen have researched, field-tested, and explored these recommendations through their work at the Berggruen Institute, a think tank designed to develop and promote long-term answers to the biggest challenges of the 21st Century, and The WorldPost, a global media platform in partnership with The Washington Post. Their first book, Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century, was named one of the best books of 2012 by the Financial Times.