A Conservative Era or a Radical Era?

Those on the Left tend to think that this is a conservative era. They are partly right. In the United States and to a lesser extent in other Anglophone countries inequality has skyrocketed. We are living in a new age of inequality.

But those on the Right tend to think this is a radical or liberal era. They are also right. The old norms and values of our civilization have been upturned by cultural radicalism. Among the locomotives of revolution have been feminism, multiculturalism, migration, and globalism.

Could it be that the new inequality and the new cultural radicalism are linked? That one has caused the other, or that the two reinforce each other?

Is anyone interested in a grand bargain – less inequality in exchange for less cultural radicalism? That seems to have been what happened after World War II. Low inequality and low cultural radicalism meant high social cohesion.

But neither side wants such a compromise now probably because peace means there is less incentive to maintain social cohesion.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “A Conservative Era or a Radical Era?

  1. 1. The compromise would be difficult, for the first is a political shift, the second a cultural one. It is a lot easier to make political compromises than it is to make cultural ones. Who has the authority to make them?

    2. The interesting thing about the Great Depression was that it hit the elites as hard as it hit the man on the street. In periods like the panic of 1893 and the current “Great Recession” where elites come away unscathed, if not prospering, there is little incentive for them to make bargains at all. (See Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy (New York: 2001), ch. 1-2 for a breakdown of how the elites fared through the different booms and busts of American history. Other parts of the book touch on similar dynamics in the British Empire and old Dutch Republic)

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