Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Updated States of America - Version 3.0

I read this article from the American.com website with the greatest of optimism, because, as people who know me well, know that I am a bubbly, upbeat, glass half-full kinda guy. OK you got me, I'm really not. I want to be an optimist, I really do. Things usually do turn out OK, right? But here I'm afraid things will not turn out OK unless a drastic course correction happens in America, and I just don't see it happening.

What James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus, writing for the American Enterprise Institute, fail to acknowledge in their article is that past transformations from one paradigm to another for America were not accomplished under the boot of an overwhelming and controlling central government like we have today. We have drifted ever so close, for all intents and purposes, to a powerful national government instead of a collection of states bound by a federal government.

Their supposition that versions 1.0 and 2.0 were wrenching transformations from an agrarian society to an industrial society with 3.0, just underway and just as wrenching, to the information society, has some real merit. Those earlier transformations gave rise to a powerful and dynamic nation that steered the entire world for decades starting with World War Two. But since the 70's the combination of a rebuilt Europe and Japan along with the meteoric rise of an Asian economic force has weakened that dominance to such a degree that very fabric of the nation is starting to unravel. The middle-class, which was a singular strength for America, has been devastated and current government and corporate policies are not only unhelpful they are accelerating the decline.

The American political and economic regime now in crisis was built for the world of America 2.0. Today, we are in the midst of a dramatic transition to a new technological and political configuration — which we call America 3.0. Institutions that once looked permanent are cracking at the foundations. Technology will drive the transition, and the shape of future technology can only be known in broad outline.

Most importantly, the cultural foundation of America, based on its unique type of family life, will remain intact. This is the continuous thread linking each of the three “versions” of America. Our deeply rooted orientation toward personal and economic freedom will allow us to dismantle America 2.0 and build a better, freer, and more prosperous America 3.0 in its place.

But wait a minute!!! I can't let that second paragraph go unchallenged. First, if our strength as a culture is based on families then my friends we have trouble coming. Unless you've been asleep for the last 30 years you know that the very definition of a family is being challenged. For those still in the traditional family mode we are seeing a troubling trend toward "child worship". Nothing is more unhealthy for a child or a parent than creating a mini-god that then goes out into the unforgiving world with an inflated sense of entitlement. For the nontraditional family it's anything goes, I mean anything. Today millions of young men are being brushed aside as unnecessary and millions of young women are expected to do it all and when it fails, and it will, men in general will be blamed. Families may have been the nation's strength, but ultra-liberal trends (and policies) are destroying it as we speak.

Secondly, they say our deep rooted orientation toward personal and economic freedom will propel us into the future!!! Both of these tenets are being destroyed by the government in D.C. at an alarming rate. In today's Washington crony capitalism is the name of game and nothing destroys economic freedom faster than the rule of law that favors some over others. Where is the opposition to the trends we are witnessing supposed to come from? Politicians? Hardly. The loyal opposition? What opposition? Both parties are fully staked in this game by their corporate benefactors. The Tea Party? The media crushed it with a flick of its middle finger. The people? Lemmings.

The authors acknowledge all this: FTA
As the 2.0 state fails, we are seeing increasing awareness, urgency, and activism in response to a deepening crisis. The emerging America 3.0 will reverse several key characteristics of the 2.0 state: decentralization versus centralization; diversity and voluntarism rather than compulsion and uniformity; emergent solutions from markets and voluntary networks rather than top-down, elite-driven commands. Strong opposition to the rise of America 3.0 is inevitable, including heavy-handed, abusive, and authoritarian attempts to prop up the existing order. But this “doubling down” approach is doomed. It is incompatible with both the emerging technology and the underlying cultural framework that will predominate in America 3.0.

I'm not buying it. The Internet was the emerging technology a decade ago, a real game changer, the governed rising up with powerful voices, and still the march toward centralization and government control into all aspects of our lives marches on. I agree that powerful industries, even monopolies may disappear. I could see cable TV companies, health care compaies, Microsoft and other software companies and even possibly things like massive power utilities lose out as new and fantastic technologies come about, but the government is not going away and despite their avowed benevolence they will crush freedom in all it's forms if not brought to heal. It's inevitable.

It was the at the corner of version 2.0 in the late 1930's when the coming of total war demanded a powerful government that a monster was born. The monster had two figures sitting on it's shoulders. One might have resembled an angel and the other a devil. In one ear the monster heard the spouting of the American Constitution and in the other pure socialism. You decide which was which. Fast forward to 2013 and it's fairly obvious which road version 3.0 will take.

God knows, I hope I'm wrong on this one...



Timothy Birdnow said...

Sadly you are absolutely correct, Craig!

Michael J. Lotus said...

Craig, you're wrong on this one! "Unless you've been asleep for the last 30 years you know that the very definition of a family is being challenged." Nope, not asleep! We say this in America 3.0, at 57-58:

Admittedly, we are in midst of rapid and even chaotic change in family
life in America. By many objective measures, and by simple observation,
the world has been turned upside down in recent decades. The birth
control pill, a transformative technology on the scale of the steam engine,
was a cultural supernova whose blast is still ongoing, and whose effects
are still impossible to estimate. Effective antibiotics, which reduced the
risk and virulence of venereal disease, had a related and compounding
effect. Other changes include:
◆ the liberation of women from back-breaking domestic work
because of the electrification of the home and advances in power
◆ the move of many women out of the house and into the cash
◆ the dissolution of traditional family life,
◆ the legality and widespread use of abortion,
◆ the sweeping impact of no-fault divorce,
◆ the effect of fragmented families on several generations of American
◆ the social acceptance of single motherhood,
◆ the appearance of a political and cultural movement demanding
civil rights and marriage for gay people, and
◆ the rise of ubiquitous pornography on the Internet.
These and other developments have changed or undermined the family
as it was known to Americans two or three generations ago. Each of these
phenomena is apparently at odds with our claim that the Anglo-American
style of nuclear family will continue to be a major determinant of culture
and institutions in America.
Although no one can know the future, we speculate that the momentum
built up over many centuries is nonetheless likely to continue for
some time to come. In foreign countries political attitudes are still shaped
by old family patterns that are no longer as pervasive as they were. People’s
expectations are shaped by upbringing, language, institutions, and
unconscious patterns of behavior that take centuries to form. ...
It is too early to say where the many novel developments we are living
through now will ultimately lead. We are in the early decades of changes
so massive, not only in family life but in technology and politics, that no
one can possibly predict how it will all play out. But although there will
continue to be changes to the American family, we do not expect to see a
total break with the past. Our attitudes and expectations are still shaped
by the momentum of centuries, and that will almost certainly continue to
be true for a long time to come. We do not anticipate a basic change in
cultural attitudes and expectations among the majority of people, at least
not soon.
Furthermore, the prospect of a reassertion or revival of family life
along more traditional American lines, either generally or among self-selecting
communities, cannot be ruled out in the decades ahead. Patterns
of radical change followed by partial retrenchment have happened before
and may do so again.

I hope you will read the book. Of course, I want you to buy a copy. But if you get it from the library, that's OK too. I care more about the ideas.

"It's inevitable."

It's not. It's up to us.

"... they will crush freedom in all it's forms if not brought to heal." No, Craig, you cannot use the passive voice here.

If WE don't stop it.

Things will get worse before they get better.

America 3.0 will not come like the incoming tide or the blustery winds of winter.

We have to make it happen.

Are you in?