Tyler Cowen and Parag Khanna at GDI

29 May 2017

Inertia, Gridlock, Populism: Democracy in Crisis

The economic figures conceal the truth: America is doing increasingly badly. Complacency, isolation, lack of innovation, stagnation... the challenges are only increasing. That’s the view of one of the US’s most talented economists, the professor Tyler Cowen. According to his recent book, The Complacent Class, the politicians’ motto is NIMEY (Not In My Election Year), while citizens are CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything).

And Europe isn't doing much better. Countries are drifting apart; populism is winning. Complacent citizens consume the bread and circuses, yet they only become more dissatisfied – without stepping up to change things. Participation in referendums and elections is decreasing, and politicians are giving up their positions. The militia system is a victim of its voluntary nature.

Democracy isn't an end in itself. It only serves people when it provides solutions. It needs a system update. In order to provide one, geostrategist Parag Khanna brings together the best of two worlds: Switzerland and Singapore. In his brand new book, Technocracy in America, Khanna proposes "direct technocracy", a system in which experts run the country, consulting citizens on an ongoing basis using democratic methods – and data.

We’ll be discussing the following questions with Tyler Cowen and Parag Khanna on 29 May:

  • Can democracy function without growth?
  • What kind of democracy will we be able to afford in the future?
  • Has globalisation really passed its peak?
  • What roles will Europe, Germany and France play in the future?
  • How is the US developing?


29 May 2017

Full price: CHF 190

The conference fee includes all food and beverages. Participants registering less than two weeks before the event can pay by credit card only.

GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute
Langhaldenstrasse 21
8803 Rüschlikon
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German/English (simultaneous interpretation)

Changes to the programme
The programme is subject to change. If an event does not take place, fees will be refunded. Further claims are ruled out.

Hotel reservation
To benefit from special rates, please use the following email adresses and refer to the following code: Democracy2017
Hotel Sedartis, Thalwil: info@sedartis.ch
Hotel Belvoir, Rüschlikon: info@hotel-belvoir.ch

If you are unable to attend, please let us have your cancellation in writing. The fee will be reimbursed on cancellation thirty or more days before the event. After this term and until five full working days prior to the event we will charge 75% of the fee. In the event of later cancellations we will charge the full participation fee. Substitute participants welcome.



“Countries that lose their dynamics end up making serious mistakes”, said Tyler Cowen. Read more in our summary of the conference. More...

New publication

Jenseits von Demokratie
Regieren im Zeitalter des Populismus
Author: Parag Khanna
Download now (in German)


Daniela Fässler
+41 44 724 62 13


Programm (PDF)



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