About the speakers:
Nicolas Berggruen is the Chairman of Berggruen Holdings, a private company, which is the direct investment vehicle of The Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust. Through the Nicolas Berggruen Institute on Governance, an independent, nonpartisan think tank, he encourages the study and design of systems of good governance suited for the 21st century. Mr. Berggruen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy.
Nathan Gardels has been editor of New Perspectives Quarterly since it began publishing in 1985. He has served as editor of Global Viewpoint and Nobel Laureates Plus (services of LATimes Syndicate/Tribune Media) since 1989. Mr. Gardels has written widely for The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Harper's, U.S. News & World Report and the New York Review of Books. He has also written for foreign publications. Since 1986, Gardels has been a Media Fellow of the World Economic Forum (Davos), and he has been a member of the Councilof Foreign Relations, as well as the Pacific Council, for many years.
From Winston Churchill at the end of World War II to Francis Fukuyama at the end of the Cold War, liberal democracy has been extolled as the best system of governance to have emerged out of the long experience of history. Today, such a confident assertion is far from self-evident. Democracy, in crisis across the West, must prove itself.
It is time, the authors argue, 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.
While China must lighten up, the authors quip, the US 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. 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” to meet its challenges. Greater complexity of diversity requires a calibration of institutions that balances 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 by “devolving, involving and decision-division” will make the difference between dynamic and stalled societies.