21st Century Council

A forum for dialogue on global governance, with a focus on the G-20 as the governing body of globalization. Members include former heads of state, global entrepreneurs and political thinkers.

Council for the Future of Europe

This Council gathers a small group of the region's most eminent political figures to research and debate ways forward for a united Europe.

Think Long Committee for California

Develops comprehensive approaches to repairing California's broken system of governance while evaluating policies and institutions vital for the state's long-term future.

Intelligent Governance

“Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century: A Middle Way Between East and West,” by Institute President Nicolas Berggruen and senior advisor Nathan Gardels, will begin to be published in October. The formal UK launch (Polity Press) will be in early November, with events at the Oxford Union (Nov 5 & 6) and in London (LSE Nov 7 and RSA Nov 8). The Spanish (Santillana) edition will be launched at the Guadalajara Literary Festival on Dec. 3, and in Mexico City on Dec. 4 and 5. The Spanish and Portuguese (Objetiva) tour will be in January. The North American tour will be in February with events in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago. The South American tour will be in March. The Chinese publication date (Century) is yet to be determined.

The authors’ essential thesis is that a post-post Cold War world, characterized by the interdependence of plural identities and the spread of information technology, both requires and enables a new system of “intelligent governance.” Greater complexity and diversity require institutions that balance the distributed, participatory power of social media with smart governing capacity at the systemic level for the common good and long-term sustainability. Getting that balance right will make the difference between dynamic and stalled societies.

Liberal democracy has long been extolled as the best system of governance. But today democracy is in crisis across the West, and the authors argue it is time to take another look at democracy as we know it, not just because of the sustained success of non-Western modernity, notably in the more authoritarian Asia of Singapore or China, but because the West itself has changed.

In the West today, particularly the United States, we no longer live in “industrial democracies,” according to the authors, but in “consumer democracies” where all the feedback signals -- in politics, the media and the market – are geared to immediate gratification, political passions of the moment and special interests instead of the common good. We live in “a Diet-Coke Culture” that, just as it promises sweetness without calories, expects rights without duties, consumption without savings and government without taxes.

It is not surprising that such a governing ethos has ended up drowning households and governments in debt and resulted in paralyzing partisanship. Divided against itself, democratic governance is unable to manage the changes underway due to globalization and rapid technological advance. Unless the West can figure out new mechanisms that institutionalize the long-term perspective and common good in governance, the authors foresee continuing decline.

In contrast, the long-term focus of China’s leadership -- nominally Communist, but in reality neo-Confucian -- is boldly moving that nation into the future. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty. Glittering megacities linked by high-speed trains have been built in record time. Students in Shanghai score highest on international tests. With its vast financial reserves, China has become the world’s largest creditor, just as the U.S. was in 1950.

But China too, say the authors, faces challenges arising from its very success. Its burgeoning middle class will increasingly demand more participation and less corruption, accountability of government, and the rule of law.

While China must lighten up, the authors say, the U.S. must tighten up.

As the 21st Century unfolds, both of these core systems of the global order must contend with the same reality: a genuinely multi-polar world where no single power dominates and in which societies themselves are becoming increasingly diverse.

To cope, the authors argue that both East and West can benefit by adapting each other’s best practices.

Not content with being armchair theorists, the authors are seeking to implement their ideas in widely varying political and cultural contexts – state government in California, the European Union, the G-20. The second half of this book documents their ambitious efforts.

This highly timely volume is both a conceptual and practical guide of impressive scope to the challenges of good governance as the world undergoes profound transformation in the coming decades. It is a must read for political leaders everywhere.

The book’s core arguments are presented in a new anthology from McKinsey’s Center for Government, “Government Designed for New Times: A Global Conversation,” which also features articles from Berggruen Institute council members Mohamed Ibrahim and Tony Blair.

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Advance praise for “Intelligent Governance”:

With existing structures of democracy producing widespread alienation, there is an urgent need to reconsider governance in the 21st century. Berggruen and Gardels propose hybrid institutions that combine accountability with expertise, inclusiveness with meritocracy. Bringing together Confucian traditions with a European sense of history and American pragmatism, this is that rare book that combines radically innovative thinking with extensive practical knowledge. It should be on the reading list of anyone—politicians, CEOs—concerned with good governance in a time of globalization.

- John Gray, Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics, author of “The Two Faces of Liberalism”

Berggruen and Gardels seem to be everywhere --from Beijing to Rome to Mexico City-- and know everyone, cross-pollinating ideas beyond all kinds of boundaries. And they have the determination and resources to put their highly original and worthy ideas into action.

- Nouriel Roubini, Roubini Associates

Berggruen and Gardels bring invaluable insights into why our Western democracies, from Greece to California, have become so dysfunctional. They argue that unless we develop a long-term governance perspective, today's "consumer democracy" -- in which all feedback signals from the media, the market and politics are short term -- will undermine its own future. The authors take us beyond theorizing to describe their efforts to implement their ideas in the US, Europe, and the G-20. A brilliant starting point in an urgently needed discussion about how we govern ourselves in this new era.

- Arianna Huffington, Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post/AOL

A brilliantly insightful and provocative book on the central issue of our time: effective governance. Democracies and autocratic systems are both at risk of failure on a broad front. Berggruen and Gardels courageously invite us and the next generation to tackle this problem head on, with humility and open minds.

- Michael Spence, Nobel laureate, Chairman of the World Bank Commission on Growth and Development, author of “The Next Convergence.”

Berggruen and Gardels offer an unconventional take on what good governance should mean in the 21st century, going beyond exasperated accounts of East versus West to offer something far more compelling and pragmatic.

- Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google

Do we have something to learn from China's political experience? The authors breach the taboo and say yes, imagining a political system that combines accountability and meritocracy and sketching an emergent globalization that could reenergize multilateralism. Truly a thought-provoking book.

- Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organization

Drawing on precepts and practices from both West and East, Berggruen and Gardels provide a thoughtful and attention-grabbing view on what constitutes “intelligent governance.” Required reading for anyone reflecting on how best to deal with the multiplying challenges faced by all our societies.

- Zhang Weiwei, author of “The China Wave: Rise of a Civilizational State”

The rise of the West once led to the subjugation of the East. Will the rise of the East lead inevitably to another cycle of war and revolution in the world? Or will we, finally, have the wisdom to break that cycle? This moral challenge confronts each of us as political citizens of the communities we live in and of the planet we share, and Berggruen and Gardels put it squarely before the reader.

- George Yeo, former foreign minister of Singapore