The Fourth Revolution
The Global Race to Reinvent the Sate

John Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge

The Introduction

The rhetoric of the Authors is the rhetoric of the people and institutions that they study and report. The authors channel the institutions and commentators that they describe. They seek the good points in the various cultures and governments that they study and report.

The “China Executive Leadership Academy” is at (N 31.1957753°, E 121.536943°) That rhetoric is of the form “All wealth arises directly or indirectly from central planning by politicians” despite Deng’s happy comment about local industries surprising Beijing.

But the next sections (L 99 thru 286) is in another minarchist voice. Yet the authors leave open the question of socialized medicine.

Part One

(L 381) “The core idea in Leviathan is that the first duty of the state is to provide law and order.” Perhaps so. Hobbes’ exhortations have been so successful that the modern mind may be unfamiliar with a place without at least an attempt by the state to provide law and order. It would be good to have a reference to literature that describes the world without.

(L 352:453) The author’s description of Hobbes’ life and precepts is hilarious and captivating; they describe a coherent philosophy and situate it well in his time. I am tempted, for the first time, to read Hobbes, for I don’t quite trust the authors.

(L 2434) I am particularly glad to hear a recent report on the Nordic and particularly Sweden’s evolution. I heard much at the turning point but I needed an update.

Fixing Leviathan

The authors begin to spell out their recommendations. I broadly agree with them but I fear they are largely preaching to the choir.

(L 3361) The authors ponder democracy and suggest that a democratic government never improves. Their own description of Sweden in the last 40 years is a counterexample. Few examples, however.

(L 3519) “Democracy has seemed less golden when so many of the spoils have gone to the top 1 percent.” The book has made this point several times but never in the context of an obvious question: Does the income of the rich detract from the income of the poor? Some of the rich get their money from rent seeking and the authors spell this out well. Those riches do detract from the income of the poor. Some of those riches are surplus to the activity of creating wealth. I wish I knew how much.

In the same paragraph: “But the 2007– 8 financial crisis stopped that: In an era of less, democracy is under more pressure.” For what it is worth we are not in an ‘era of less’. That is why it is so hard for the FED to create inflation, even printing money has failed!

(L 3534) “… politicians would try to bribe their way to power—as they have done by promising entitlements that future generations will have to pay for.” The authors omit a mechanism that thwarts. “Cookies now—pay later” requires people to buy bonds. Just now (2015) bond buyers are beginning to notice that some bonds are bad bargains. This does not solve promised pensions. I think the authors described a Swedish plan where the promise was to some fraction of a particular set of securities.