Berggruen’s prescriptions for fixing society can raise eyebrows. In his view the West has become a slave to populism and other excesses of democracy. A man who surrounds himself with former heads of state, policymakers, and academics (GABRIEL KAHN’s interview for LA Magazine was delayed as Berggruen brokered a dinner meeting between L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the mayor of Berlin), Berggruen tends to put more trust in elites than voters. At one point in our conversation he suggests that perhaps the Senate should be appointed rather than elected. Western governments, he says at another, have something to learn from more autocratic regimes like China’s, and vice versa—a notion reflected in a book he coauthored, Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century: A Middle Way Between West and East.

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