The Future Still Belongs to America

Dateline: Thu 07 Jul 2011

An especially upbeat take, from the Wall Street Journal, Saturday July 2, 2011, by Walter Russell Mead, a professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College; editor of the American Interest.

I liked it because, as Mead says, sometimes all we hear is doom and gloom about the future of the nation. I've always believed our excellence comes from two sources: the melting pot/blended salad of people and ideas which still defines the nation, and the keen sense of competition in the pursuit of creating new wealth and inventions.

Here are Mead's sentiments:

Especially this:

"...This is shaping up to be an even more American century than the last. The global game is moving towards America's home court.

"The great trend of this century is the accelerating and deepening wave of change sweeping through every element of human life. Each year sees more scientists with better funding, better instruments and faster, smarter computers probing deeper and seeing further into the mysteries of the physical world. Each year more entrepreneurs are seeking to convert those discoveries and insights into ways to produce new things, or to make old things better and more cheaply. Each year the world's financial markets are more eager and better prepared to fund new startups, underwrite new investments, and otherwise help entrepreneurs and firms deploy new knowledge and insight more rapidly.

"Scientific and technological revolutions trigger economic, social and political upheavals. Industry migrates around the world at a breathtaking—and accelerating—rate. Hundreds of millions of people migrate to cities at an unprecedented pace. Each year the price of communication goes down and the means of communication increase.

"New ideas disturb the peace of once-stable cultures. Young people grasp the possibilities of change and revolt at the conservatism of their elders. Sacred taboos and ancient hierarchies totter; women demand equality; citizens rise against monarchs. All over the world more tea is thrown into more harbors as more and more people decide that the times demand change...

"This tsunami of change affects every society—and turbulent politics in so many countries make for a turbulent international environment. Managing, mastering and surviving change: These are the primary tasks of every ruler and polity. Increasingly these are also the primary tasks of every firm and household.

"This challenge will not go away...

"Everybody is going to feel the stress, but the United States of America is better placed to surf this transformation than any other country. Change is our home field. It is who we are and what we do. Brazil may be the country of the future, but America is its hometown"

The fourth graph strikes me as especially true for all times: young people grasp the possibilities of change and revolt at elders' conservatisim...I know we all spend a lot of time worrying about the murky future (debt crisis, public education, hardline conservatives dictating restrictive social policies, etc.) But never underestimate the power of young people to remake the world.

Agree? Disagree? Or is it all too jingoistic for consumption? For me, Mead's clarion call is what we need to hear  right now.


hendy [Member] said:

This article is behind a paywall. It's on a site owned by Rupert Murdoch, whose other publications regularly hack into victim's cellphones for tawdry news. He also owns Fox News.

I can't therefore see the ostensibly rah-rah, potentially jingoistic treatise you describe. However, your summary seems to be the need and desire to have hope in an age that is in your face with ugly news. I see signs that the US is well-positioned to continue to have economic leadership, but its moral leadership is somewhat suspect. I could write volumes on why I believe that our bribed legislatures and contentious politics is stressing the living hell out of people.

I also believe in the acumen and sense of social justice in a significant portion of America. Educational values are still strong. Work ethic, where you can find work, is good. Crime is somewhat down, but we also have the highest per-capita prison population on the planet, so right now, the bad guys are in jail.

When I go overseas, I see America's leadership waning recently, especially after 9/11. My business segment is small, but also has strong market capitalization. We're not exporting enough, and the sanctioned monopolies in business segments and speech are frighteningly onerous.

Divide and conquer is the old aphorism. I'd like to re-unite and move on-- and up if not for me, for my children's children.

2011-07-07 11:10:53

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

I am not able to get out much these days. But I was feeling well enough yesterday (thank you, Lord) to go out to a county fair and enjoyed it very much - especially sitting and watching all of the little children having such a good time.

Being diabetic, I have to watch what I eat in such places. My wife and I went to a little charity organization's stand where they were selling home-made french fries. She got us a small order each.

While I was sitting at a table waiting for my better half, a sweet elderly little lady was sitting across from me all by herself. I started up a conversation with her and she told me she also has diabetes. Then, she said:

"But even if I didn't have diabetes this would be all I could get to eat because it's all (a small order of fries) I have the money to afford."

I do TRY to be optimistic about the "good life" in America, Ruth....but my eyes and ears keep letting me down.

2011-07-07 11:57:32

VladtheImpaler [unverified] said:

America is only as good as Americans.

Oh crap -- we're screwed ...

2011-07-07 16:55:50

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

A sibling works in the diplomatic corps. This is her observation:

Under Pres. Bush, we were openly mocked around the world. The Iraqi invasion greatly diminished our core value to most nations worldwide. We had few true friends among the family of nations...and the governments are usually a whole lot more friendly to us than their citizenry.

Since 20098, more nations, particularly in Africa, are open to US views, culture and values. We are still viewed as war-mongers, but: if any of those African nations need someone to help them overthrow a ruthless dictator, guess whom they expect to ride a white horse into the fray?

This writer's optimism is palpable, and welcome. Hendy's observations about the writer's potential paycheck source, is troubling. But:

Even a blind squirrel can find an acorn once in a while.

2011-07-07 17:19:06

ruthholl [Member] said:

Yep. But then there's News of the World.
Thanks to all for comments.

2011-07-07 20:56:39

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