Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's Now Up to Us

The message—and it is not only for the lords of the feast—is that we aren’t great enough for our times.  The challenges are immense and exhilarating; too many of us are shabby and small.  We tread the endless circles of our own habits and ideas while around us the world is changed beyond recognition.  We accept shabby lies and conventional fictions for solid truths; we build our homes upon the sand, and demand government subsidized insurance in case the floods come.  . . .

I have written before of the challenges that face us in the United States and will not say more here except that stale quibbling over expense cutbacks that will not significantly reduce the deficits, and reforms that will change very little, is not what we need.  Americans have the opportunity and the duty and the urgent pressing need to move into the future, to do and be more than ever.  The thin rhetoric of a backward looking president, the obstreperous negativism of an opposition better at rejecting what it hates than building or even conceiving what it needs, the lotus-eating educational formation that cuts us off from our past, and the incessant noise of a superficial pop culture: none of this is worthy of America at its best and none of it will help us now.

—Walter Russell Mead

It will be painful for all of us to read Professor Meade’s sobering but soaring post, “The Invisible Hand Is Writing On Our Wall,” but it must be read and passed around, analyzed and meditated upon, by everyone who loves his country and is prepared to take the responsibility that that love engenders.

“Americans have the opportunity and the duty and the urgent pressing need to move into the future, to do and be more than ever.”  My friends, to achieve this is precisely why the Recovering Bureaucrat speaks out.

We do not live in “normal” tough times.  This is not a replay of any of the business recessions that our industrial economy experienced regularly over the past century and a half.  Nor, the RB thinks we can agree, is this a new rendering of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

This is something truly unique and unprecedented: the great and inevitable upheaval of a new world unceremoniously dumping an old and depleted one.  Formally, we are experiencing the Information Age impatiently thrusting aside the Industrial Age, but because we still have huge numbers of people still living in pre-industrial conditions across the planet, it’s a very complex and ultra-chaotic dynamic.

Regardless of the geometry of what’s going on—historians will straighten it all out later—what’s essential to grasp is that the old world is dead and never coming back.  Never.  All of the social, economic, and political institutions we grew up and depended on are collapsing.  Some may be disappearing more slowly than others, but there isn’t a one that will survive the next decade intact.  Not one.