In his book, Rupture, the Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells argues that what we are witnessing today is not some normal turn of political cycles, but an historic rupture of the institutional relationship between the governing and the governed in liberal democracies.

Yet he sees no new relationship on the horizon that might supplant the old ways of representation, only fragments of the former mainstream parties and upstart populists vying to put their team in power through the exercise of electoral contests in which ever fewer believe. The resulting polarization and paralysis has divided nearly all societies in half or splintered them even further into a multitude of tribes, unable to reach a governing consensus.

This disaffection with and distrust in governing institutions has gained more traction than ever before because of the participatory power of peer-driven social media. It levels the…


In October 2019, a group of some 40 U.S. state attorney generals announced they were following the lead of New York state in looking into platform antitrust issues, and the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission said that they were taking new looks at Google and Facebook for potential antitrust violations. A number of Democratic presidential candidates, led by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, have included antitrust planks in their campaign platforms. There are good reasons for the U.S. …


Often referred to as the “father of framing,” Professor George Lakoff is a renowned cognitive linguist whose work has contributed to a new understanding of the ways that conceptual frames and metaphors shape our social and political lives.Lakoff retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley in 2016 and is currently Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society. He has authored dozens of books, including Metaphors we Live By with co-author Mark Johnson, Moral Politics, and most recently, Don’t Think of An Elephant! …


One year ago, the jurors for the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture were excited to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the 2019 recipient. We were thrilled to meet her at the award ceremony to celebrate her life and her influence on the law and social justice. Now, we mourn her death.

Along with all of our colleagues at the Berggruen Institute, we are saddened by the passing of a warm, witty, and remarkably strong human being. She was a crusader for social justice and equality. And as jurors who examined her writings, we are grateful for having learned from…


LOS ANGELES, CA — The Berggruen Institute has welcomed its sixth cohort of Fellows to research transformative ideas that will shape human society while promoting both academic and cultural exchange. Former Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Yuk Hui, Vilas Dhar, Drew Endy, and Michael Specter have joined the Institute as Senior Fellows. …


In this podcast, Yakov Feygin , Associate Director of the Future of Capitalism Program speaks with economist Michael Pettis about his latest book, Trade Wars Are Class Wars

Michael Pettis on the Ideas Matter Podcast

Pettis argues that trade surpluses arise not from cultural reasons, but rather from distortions in the way income is distributed. A trade surplus simply means that households are not consuming as much as they are producing, allowing for their production to be consumed elsewhere. Thus, countries that run persistent trade surpluses restrain the real wages of their populations, driving domestic inequality. This “beggar thy neighbor”…


In recent years, American society has been increasingly burdened by economic stagnation and pervasive inequality. 40% of adults in the United States don’t have $400 to spare in an emergency, and medical emergencies are now the primary cause of most personal bankruptcies. Without universal minimum provisions covering health, disability, and retirement, anyone’s household’s wealth can be destroyed by a random personal calamity.

A popular proposal that has garnered much public attention has been Universal Basic Income (UBI). UBI addresses many problems for very simply delivering support income but it fails to meaningfully address the roots of the vast disparities in…


In this fascinating presentation, Alta Charo (Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and former Berggruen Fellow) charts the landscape of heritable and non-heritable human genomic editing and respective efforts globally to reduce actual and projected harms through legislation.

From the legal quandaries that have arisen since the recent controversial CRISPR tinkering of twin baby girls in China to be resistant to HIV infection, to the deliberate elimination of undesirable traits in non-heritable procedures, she covers the full spectrum of challenges and approaches to legal and moral frameworks.

Watch this Rapid Fire…


Innovation engineering, abstract wallpaper by Shane Rounce
Innovation engineering, abstract wallpaper by Shane Rounce

On July 15, 2020, the Berggruen Institute was pleased to welcome Arati Prabhakar as a guest speaker for an internal discussion moderated by BI Executive Vice President, Dawn Nakagawa.

Arati has had a remarkably unique and multi-faceted career that speaks to her wide-ranging areas of expertise from engineering to venture capital to the social sciences. As director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), she led programs to rethink military systems, harnessed information to address national security challenges, and founded the Microsystems Technology Office. Following her time at DARPA, she went on to join the Berggruen Institute’s Fellowship Program…


On July 29, 2020, the Berggruen Institute was pleased to welcome Berggruen Fellow Amitav Acharya as a guest speaker for our internal lecture series. Moderated by BI Vice President of Programs, Nils Gilman, the two discussed the ways in which COVID-19 might reshape Asian security.

Professor Acharya, a leading scholar on non-Western International Relations theory, outlined three possible scenarios:

  • Continuing engagement with the United States and China without “taking sides”;
    * Bandwagoning with either the United States or China;
    * Increased suspicions among some countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines) and other middle powers (Australia, India, South Korea) of both the United…

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