Making sense of the radical change surrounding us – a long-term perspective – 2

The change overwhelming us is simultaneously exciting, frightening, thrilling, unsettling, clear, and confused.  We have a scary and exciting future with incredible opportunities that we can only vaguely see.

How to make sense of it?

Two writers more than all others have helped me as I slowly sort things out: Seth Godin and Walter Russell Mead.

I’d like to highlight a few articles from Mr. Mead to give a sense of the major trends facing us. He regularly refers to the breakdown of the “blue model.”

The way we’ve done things since World War II isn’t working anymore. None of us have any idea today what the replacement way of doing things will look like.

Previous post provided a deep introduction from one of Mr. Mead’s articles..

For a very long read that provides deep explanation, check out The Once and Future Liberalism.

The article goes into great detail about the factors that have collapsed the ‘blue model’ in the private sector. The government sector has yet to deal with this:

The real crisis today in the United States is the accelerating collapse of blue government, not blue private industry, which is a phenomenon largely behind us. We are witnessing a multi-dimensional meltdown that affects our lives and politics in many ways.

We are seeing that meltdown in the headlines every day. The massive restructuring in finance and manufacturing is visible in the disappearance of life-time tenure and defined benefit retirement plans. Those transitions are only now hitting the government sector.

We need a redefinition of the term ‘liberal’ into the classical liberalism that describes all western democracies over the last 200 years.

He describes four different phases of our history in terms of Liberalism 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 (the pre-New Deal, laissez-faire that current political conservatives want to resurrect), and finally 4.0 (the post WWII prosperity model and Great Society activism that current political liberals are fighting to sustain).

As Mr. Mead describes the ‘50s and ‘60s, there are things that both liberals and conservatives, as we currently define them, would like and dislike. As he describes the current turmoil we are in, there are actually a lot of things that both liberals and conservatives, as we currently define them, should like a lot.

Yet people today are all fighting to go back in time to something that has departed, whether those people would today be defined as hard-left, liberal, conservative, or hard-right.

You need to check out the full article for a few thousand words to explain what I poorly summarized in a couple of sentences.

Where are we now?

For those blue Democrats clinging to liberalism 4.1, this is a time of doom and gloom. For those red Republicans longing for a return to liberalism 3.0, it is a time of angry nostalgia … This should be a time of adventure, innovation and creativity in the building of liberalism 5.0.

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