> The first revolution was the rise of the European nation-state after the Peace of Westphalia; the second was the late-18th- and 19th-century turn toward individual rights and accountable government; the third was the creation of the modern welfare state. Each revolution improved the state’s ability to provide order and deliver vital services while still fostering innovation. But as democratic publics demanded more and more, the state promised more and more, eventually overextending itself. In Revolution 3.5, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan tried, but failed, to shrink the state.
The second half of the book is less good where it predicts the eventual shrinking of the state towards an efficient Singapore-esque limited government (aka the fourth revolution). But they make very good observations about the current state where individual liberties are continually diminished, innovation is crippled, widespread government inefficiency is the norm ("94% of government IT projects failed in last decade"), budgets are bloated, and the economic growth needed to support social services stalls.
The cause may simply be that whenever a crisis happens everyone calls for something to be done, then laws get passed, regardless if they are effective or not (see: terrorism, drugs, etc) as well as the thousands of small regulations over business every time someone gets hurt or dies or were merely pushed through by incumbents protecting their market share. Combine that with constant crises over a couple decades and you have quite the large administrative state.
But I think it may be more simply the result of the "The Iron Law of Bureaucracy" . As organizations mature, without push-back, administrators end up taking over every aspect of an organization (happened at universities too) and the administrators favourite thing to do is creating new rules requiring more administrators. Which is how you end up with so many government agencies that they don't even know how many exist in the US .
The growth of the modern state is hardly a partisan issue, at least not in practice.
This is an issue in all modern liberal societies. Big government and centralized control has exploded over the last century, nation-states have become bigger than they've been in any time in history. The first half of the book "Fourth Revolution" has a really great history of how the state has massively grown, largely starting after WW2, to the point it becomes embedded in every parts of our lives (whether it's explicit or not). This type of thing always happens through small slivers and cuts, largely promoted via community complaints calling for government to solve issues - much like what Facebook has experienced.
This is the side-effect of a society where the hair-trigger response to every small problem is to look to government to solve it - not just economic but social issues too. Instead of resolving them internally or via community, or just moving on because the solution is sometimes worse than the problem (see: terrorism).
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