By Nicolas Berggruen
Governance matters in whether societies move forward or backward. That has never been a more true – or more complex -- proposition than in today’s world. Because of the interdependence wrought by globalization, how we govern ourselves is inextricably linked to how others govern themselves.
There is a power shift underway today: political awakenings sweep the world; emerging economies rise as Western dominance recedes; and the spread of creative, but disruptive, technologies changes the ways we live. All of us must adapt our societal operating systems to the new realities, or else face stagnation and decline.
Nobel Laureate Michael Spence was right when he said that effective governance “is the central issue of our time.” And for that reason it is the central focus of this institute and the common thread that runs through all our endeavors.
Democracies and autocratic systems alike are at risk of failure on a broad front. Our response as an “action and think tank” is to seek out pragmatic alternatives beyond the uninformed and gridlocked populist versions of democracy, on one hand, and meritocratic but unaccountable bureaucracies on the other. As Spence sees it, democracies are “trapped in the present, and make demonstrably poor long-term decisions by failing to invest, and by adopting dangerously unstable, defective growth models.” The autocracies in Asia that have been notably successful over the past three decades in producing rapid growth, Spence continues, “tend to corruption and abuse of power, and the loss of the consent of the governed.”
Over the past two years, this institute has launched ambitious efforts to address such challenges where we believe we can have an impact.
Through the Think Long Committee for California, we have sought to reboot dysfunctional democracy in America’s bellwether state;
Through the Council on the Future of Europe, we have sought to stimulate debate and action among elites and public alike on the future shape and legitimacy of the governing institutions of a united Europe;
Through the 21st Century Council we have sought to influence the agenda of the G-20 as the “mechanism of adjustment” in the global powershift from American-led globalization to an interdependence of plural identities in which no one power or set of powers dominates.
Now that all these projects are established there is much to report on an ongoing basis. This bimonthly newsletter will keep you posted on all of our various activities.
We will also note news about the activities of our many eminent members around the world and bring your attention to ideas, articles and videos relevant to our key concerns.
We also very much hope that each of you readers will use this venue to communicate, connect and network with each other. Shared intelligence benefits us all.