A crisis of governability has beset the Western world. It is no accident that the United States, Europe and Japan are simultaneously experiencing political breakdown; globalization is producing a widening gap between what electorates are asking of their governments and what those governments can deliver. The mismatch between the growing demand for good governance and its shrinking supply is one of the gravest challenges facing the West today.
Globalization was supposed to have played to the advantage of liberal societies, which were presumably best suited to capitalize on the fast and fluid global marketplace. But instead, for the better part of two decades, middle-class wages in the world's leading democracies have been stagnant and economic inequality has been rising sharply.
The plight of the West's middle class is the consequence primarily of the integration into global markets of billions of low-wage workers from the developing world. Globalization is not just bringing economic distress to Western electorates, but also confronting them with intensified transnational threats, such as international crime, terrorism, unwanted immigration and environmental degradation.