New times require new methods of governance, and our own troubled era is no exception. The great economic and technological convergence that is the consequence of “Globalization 1.0” has also given birth to a new cultural divergence: the wealthier emerging powers are asserting their individual cultural norms, looking to their respective historical foundations as they define themselves against the waning hegemony of the West. If “Globalization 2.0” is to be successful, it must accommodate both greater interdependence and greater pluralism.
Unfortunately, none of the existing governance models, including Western liberal democracy, is adequate to the task of ensuring a peaceful and prosperous Globalization 2.0. Our world today requires levels of technical expertise, long-term planning, legal and regulatory consensus, and cosmopolitanism that are not consistent with nation-based democracy as currently practiced in the United States and elsewhere. At the same time, the emerging neo-Confucian intellectual, cultural of China, and some similar state-dominated models, cannot hope to remain stable—or to lend stability to the developing global order—without finding ways to attract and channel the free consent of the governed, who increasingly are demanding the dignity of meaningful participation. We need, in short, to find a middle way, both in theory and in practice.
Globalization 2.0 means, above all, the interdependence of plural identities instead of one model for all. The once regnant Western liberal democracies must now contend on the world stage not only with neo-Confucian China but also with Turkey’s model of an Islamic-oriented democracy with a secular frame, a model that has been a beacon for the newly liberated Arab street. Historically, a power shift of this magnitude often ends in collision and conflict. But given the intensive integration that the post–Cold War round of globalization has wrought, this power shift also presents entirely new possibilities for cooperation and cross-pollination across a plural cultural landscape.
Striving for intelligent governance does not mean imposing a one-size-fits-all template. Different political systems are at different starting points, and each must reboot according to its own cultural preferences and needs. While China needs more citizen participation and meritocratic accountability to achieve balance, the United States needs to depoliticize its democracy, finding a system in which governance for the long term and the common good is insulated from short-term populism and a special-interest political culture. China needs to lighten up, while the United States must tighten up. In Europe, the institutional infrastructure necessary to complete integration—a strong but limited political union—must be invested with democratic legitimacy, or it will fail to attract the allegiance of European citizens over the medium or long term.