0 Items  Total: $0.00

Foreign Affairs

Why Societies Decline

November 2nd, 2010 // 2:00 am @

Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is often cited by people trying to see where America is on the long path of her place in history.

Certainly the detail of Gibbon’s work is full of specifics and nuance. But another work may be even more helpful.

Although it is more general in treatment, Arnold Toynbee’s great A Study of History covers many civilizations through history as he tries to understand the overall patterns and principles of societal successes and failures.

Neither Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization nor Paul Kennedy’s research on the rise and fall of great powers gets to the crux of things as well as Toynbee.

Why Societies Grow and Succeed

Toynbee shows that through history, certain things have helped civilizations grow and succeed, while other things haven’t had such an impact.

For example, it is neither a society’s institutions nor an economic division of labor that are responsible for success (as some historians have suggested).

Even societies that don’t grow or succeed have their institutions and divisions of labor. Nor do race or environment cause success or failure, as some have erroneously argued. Neither are religion and beliefs the cause (more on this later).

The one thing all great civilizations in history have in common, the thing which has spurred them to greatness, is adversity.

Indeed, the challenges of the world are necessary, historically, for any people to become advanced.

Sometimes such challenges spring from environment, but in such cases it is the difficulty of the environment rather than its ease which incentivizes progress.

Likewise, religions which teach of a great battle between good and evil and elicit individual involvement in this battle serve as pacers of accomplishment.

Adversity may include the stimuli of hard countries, frontier, outside aggression, external pressures, and of weaknesses or failures. And, according to Toynbee, “the greater the challenge, the greater the stimulus.”

As long as adversity doesn’t actually destroy or cause a society to burn out, it is the major spur to growth, progress and success.

Three other things can cause a civilization to slow and eventually fail.

  1. First, strong slave, caste or class systems ineffectively harvest the leadership/creativity pool and lead to failure.
  2. Second, little success occurs where significant specialization creates a mass of focused workers and the managers of society are political and/or financial experts.
  3. Third, a major challenge or crisis just as a people is becoming powerful can at times be insuperable.

This third eventuality, however, can also be the catalyst of much greater success, wealth, growth and power.

For example, in U.S. history, the Civil War had the potential to end the American experiment or solidify the U.S. as a major world influence.

Clearly the latter occurred, positioning the New World as the greatest global power less than a century later.

Becoming Powerful

In short, societies become powerful when they avoid caste and too much specialization, and overcome the various challenges they face.

Peoples who do these things grow, and growth means that formerly disparate individuals, families and tribes become a self-determining group.

“[S]elf-determination means self-articulation,” for Toynbee, meaning that the people in a society share a common understanding of the past, unity against current challenges, and a vision of the future.

Moreover, they reform or establish their institutions to achieve the shared goals.

During the growth phase, societies go through various periods of “withdrawal and return,” sometimes focusing on themselves (like America’s isolationist periods of after the War of 1812 and World War I), and other times emphasizing major involvement with other nations (such as U.S. expansionary eras in the 1830s-40s and after World War II.)

During this long period of facing and overcoming challenges, sometimes turning inward and other times seeking broader interactions, the people grow, gain in power, and grow weary of the continual challenges.

A desire for utopia arises, and part of the shared societal vision for the future is a yearning
for a time of lasting peace, prosperity, kindness and ease.

Toynbee calls this the Second Coming motif.

Over time, a growing nation attempts to adopt many of the idealistic values of the utopian motif, and the society begins to see itself as a Great Society.

Eventually, it sees itself as the Great Society, and it starts to attempt to impose its views and models on the rest of the world.

The upside of this is that the society increasingly attempts to improve itself, adopting many positive practices and customs and serving more and more elements of society.

The downside is that during this phase people become arrogant.

If the first step of decline is arrogance, the second is “a time of troubles” where the actions of society and its institutions too often fall short of the people’s lofty ideals.

For example, consider the era when Americans saw themselves as the land of the free, the best place in the world — but they were besieged with problems like youth revolution, Vietnam, the struggles of minorities and women, Watergate and other political corruptions, and so on.

A third major step toward decline occurs when the “…creative minority degenerates into a dominant minority which attempts to retain by force a position that it has ceased to merit…”

Nurturing the Creative Minority

Societies achieve all the steps of self-determination, growth and power through a partnership of the masses and the “creative minority” — the group of leaders who envision, articulate and guide the civilization to progress and success.

In American history, for example, the creative minority included the American founders and framers, the educated class through most of the 19th century and the wealthy classes in much of the 20th century.

They are Jefferson’s “natural aristocracy.”

In times of societal growth, the creative class leads, overcomes challenges, builds institutions and
wealth, and helps pass on core values and ideals to the rising generations.

It succeeds because it is fundamentally creative, entrepreneurial, enterprising and innovative. It leads, and the masses partner with its creativity and help the nation grow.

Unfortunately, when arrogance and attachment to institutionalism set in, this leadership minority stops building through creativity and begins trying to maintain its status and dominance.

Solutions are less important than votes, and staying in power trumps overcoming our challenges.

Today this group is what Arthur Brooks has called the 30 percent elite class that rules the 70 percent in our nation.

Diagnosing the Decline

At this point in decline, the masses divide themselves into two groups: 1) those who don’t want anything to change, who want everything to go back to how it was in their youth, and 2) those who loudly and sometimes violently demand change and different leaders.

Toynbee calls this period “…the failure of administration and the ruin of the middle class.”

A next step comes when the people, masses and leaders alike, begin to “…ascribe their own failure to forces that are beyond their control.” This comforting (sort of) thought turns out to be false, but the people usually stick with it and accelerate the decline.

Despite the widespread feeling of despair a society feels at this point, Toynbee goes to great lengths to show, using numerous historical examples, that decline is not caused by Acts of God, environmental or natural disasters, failures of business or technology or even government, nor from foreign attack or dangers.

Stagnation

Decline is not a homicide, but always suicide from within the society itself, and it has two main causes.

First, the creative minority that leads the economy and government builds creative institutions which eventually become too big and unwieldy to achieve their original purposes.

Instead, they focus on bureaucratic survival and budgetary growth instead of their initial mission.

In this environment, leaders become so stifled by attachments to institutional policy, methods and personnel that they stop making effective, efficient, innovative or commonsensical decisions.

Toynbee:

“Indeed, the party that has distinguished itself in dealing with one challenge is apt to fail conspicuously in attempting to deal with the next.”

He says that leaders fail when they start to depend on the successes of past institutions and techniques. They stop being leaders and start just trying to keep their power.

As a result, problems remain unsolved even while new challenges continue to pile on.

Second, as a result of the first problem, the masses lose faith in the leadership minority and refuse to support them. The elites respond by trying even harder to maintain their power, and nearly all the energy is spent on being dominant rather than on leadership.

Of course, in this environment, the problems get worse and worse.

The next step is for the power minority to attempt to justify its own leadership existence by engaging multiple military conflicts abroad.

Since it has much greater power in military force than it does to solve its own internal challenges, the dominant minority (whatever political party it represents) energetically engages (and escalates) its international conflicts.

As the society becomes more militaristic, the government naturally begins to turn a wary eye toward its own citizens.

Internal freedom decreases, and the split increases between the dominant minority, the non-dominant minorities who wish they were in power, the masses who want to quietly leave things to the experts, and the masses who want to vocally and forcefully cause things to change.

If all this sounds familiar, remember that Toynbee outlined this scenario in the mid 1940s. It is not prophecy, scenario planning, or simply a summary of current events.

This outline is based on the patterns of history, and as Santayana famously said, if we don’t know this history we are bound to repeat it.

Six Choices For Citizens

The good news is that Toynbee’s book is widely available. We only need a citizenry that will read it, ponder, consider what does or doesn’t apply to our situation, and take appropriate action.

I don’t agree with everything in Toynbee, but there is much for our generation to learn. Specifically, Toynbee tells us that we must make six major choices if we want to turn our current challenges into a great future rather than a declining society.

Note that these are choices for the citizens—the regular people—not just for those in power.

These choices are brilliant. They really do offer a chance for us to turn our struggles into a solid foundation for a free, prosperous and happy America.

I could outline these six choices, share my views on them, and discuss how I think they apply to our world today.

Unfortunately, such commentary would probably be just one more opinion.

Next Steps

What we really need in our day is a citizenry which reads the originals, thinks about them, and applies them.

We need a new creative minority that engages wise study, deep thinking, innovation, initiative and creativity.

I am anxious to discuss the potential in Toynbee’s commentary with others who have also read the original.

His six choices are found in chapter 19, and in chapter 20 he shares several warnings that are relevant and vital in our day. The title of his great book is A Study of History. I hope you will read it.

Toynbee’s six choices offer real solutions to current challenges, and I hope that more and more regular citizens will read Toynbee and other great classics and apply their ideas to modern concerns.

Successful societies progress from strong foundations to challenging growth, and then they face a period of decline. They can come out of this decline—or not—depending on the choices of the citizens.

Note that the traditional leaders of society always stop really leading at some point during decline, and that it is then up to the citizens to restart the nation toward success.

I firmly believe we are that point.

If we, as regular citizens, choose wisely on all six decisions, or even most of them, we will help build a more free and prosperous future.

Otherwise, we are following all the historical patterns of serious national decline.

But, as Toynbee put it:

“The divine spark of creative power is still alive in us, and, if we have the grace to kindle it into flames, then the stars in their courses cannot defeat our efforts to attain the goal of human endeavor.”

The poet Shelley wrote:

The World’s great age begins anew,
The golden years return,
The Earth doth like a snake renew,

Her winter weeds outworn:
Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream…

To make another great and gleaming age, we need to make six important choices.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Culture &Featured &Foreign Affairs &Generations &Government &History &Leadership &Liberty

O Canada: Lessons From Our Northern Neighbor

October 28th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Two words that haven’t shown up together very much since the 2008 economic meltdown are “austerity” and “Canada.”

That’s quite an accomplishment for our neighbor to the North. Austerity has been paired with Greece, Portugal, Spain, Great Britain and France in just the past 18 months.

Austerity means having your economy controlled and run by international regulators, and right now the idea of austerity for the United States is growing.

Not only is the federal government in financial trouble, but so are many of the individual states. In addition to struggles in 2008, 2009 and 2010, 31 states project major budgetary shortfalls in 2011.

Prospects are getting worse in many states, rather than improving.

Unemployment numbers are knocking on double digits (which is to say that in some places they already exceed 10 percent), and the U.S. deficit and debt promise to be major issues in the 2010 election — to say nothing of their impact on America’s future for years and perhaps decades to come.

Canada’s Example

But Canada faces a much smaller challenge.

Ironically, for decades U.S. conservatives have pointed to Canada’s health care system as the example of what not to do — often referring to it as a failed icon of “socialized medicine.”

Many liberals have idealized the nations of Western Europe, looking past Canada and preferring Britain, France and Germany as examples.

The Great Recession has changed all this — mainly because Canada avoided the worst of the global financial meltdown.

As Ken Kurson put it:

“When the worldwide system collapsed…Canada didn’t have a single bank poisoned by toxic assets and not a penny of public money was used to bail out its financial institutions.”

Of course, many businesses and individuals suffered, but it would have been much worse if Canadian banks followed more European-U.S. policies.

Israel, India and China all fared pretty well in the meltdown — as did Canada — while the U.S. and Britain were hit very hard. Canada’s traditional liberalism and conservatism helped shield it from the worse financial collapse other nations faced.

Modern liberalism and conservatism are mostly focused on winning office and promoting partisan agendas, whereas the traditional strains of both conservatism and liberalism are more interested in ideas, values and ideals.

Traditional liberals in Canada used government to put caps and controls on the nation’s financial institutions, keeping them from simultaneously posing as both lending institutions and speculators in the Japanese style that most European and U.S. banks have adopted.

And traditional conservatism kept banks and business from leveraging their resources at the high levels which brought down so many institutions in other nations.

One can argue with either the underlying Canadian liberalism or conservatism, but the results were a traditional kind of system that is too often seen in many advanced (and broke) nations as outmoded, quaint and passé.

For example, most U.S. mortgages were intended for sale while nearly all mortgages in Canada are still held by the banks where they originated.

In other words, Canadian bankers only made loans to people they intended to have as long-term customers; the happy result is that when the housing bubble burst such banks remained solvent.

Of course, all nations were hurt by the global economic downturn. Certainly, Canada, Israel, and other nations have their share of problems, but simple financial frugality and common sense are never old-fashioned.

What We Can Learn

There are at least two important lessons America should learn from this.

First, the traditional models of either liberalism or conservatism seem better for America than the modern, partisan styles of liberals and conservatives.

The commonsensical use of government combined with a free and flourishing private sector is vital to the future of freedom and prosperity. And the ideal is found in earlier American history rather than modern Canada, India or China.

Still, when China incentives free enterprise more effectively than the United States, the results are predictable. Freedom works, and when America ignores its own legacy it loses its strength and economic resiliency.

Second, technology doesn’t trump wisdom.

We live in a world where checks can be deposited through cell phone cameras, current events are taught better on QRANK than the nightly news, and mobile phone applications like Avoidr “allow Foursquare users to select the ‘friends’ they want to avoid” (and their phones keep them abreast of where their friends are at any given moment).

Amazon sells more books on Kindle than in hardback, and online media is causing many newspapers and now book publishers to disappear.

On a macro level, nanotechnology makes surveillance, theoretically, ubiquitous — it is becoming ever-present, everywhere, always.

As Graeme Wood wrote in The Atlantic:

“If the past several years in the shadow of a war against terrorism have taught us anything, it is that, once available, surveillance technologies rarely go unused, or un-abused.”

And governments are pursuing increasingly deeper rings of secrecy even though technology makes transparency possible.

All of these are ultimately the tools of human values and decisions. Indeed, the more powerful the technology, the greater the need for wisdom, limits, checks and balances.

It matters whether we learn these lessons or not. When the global economy broke down in 2008-2009, many businesses, industries and even states were bailed out by the federal government.

But the next round of major decline could easily force Washington to follow the majority of non-industrialized nations and even European countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, and France in turning to international lenders for bailouts.

If this comes before 2012 or even 2020, as it certainly could, we will have to borrow from those who have money to lend — meaning banks in nations such as China, Israel or Canada.

Of all the possible candidates, we will most likely go hat in hand to Canada.

Revisionist History

The other option is simply to adopt fiscal responsibility on our own. A little common sense — both the conservative and liberal kinds — can go a long way.

Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be gaining momentum. After the end of the Cold War in 1989, the common wisdom seemed to be that capitalistic nations had overcome their communistic rivals.

But for many, the Great Recession has revised this conclusion. Now the theme seems to be that Soviet-style communism and Americanized capitalism are just the age-old battle between power and greed.

The emerging winner appears to be government-run industry, what The Economist called “Leviathan Inc.: The State Goes Back Into Business.” Indeed, these are the models followed by nations like China, Israel, Brazil, India and Canada that fared better than most in the recession.

Some leaders in Washington are taking note:

“[F]rom Berlin to Brussels, demand for industrial policy is back. Japan’s new government is responding to what it sees as the increasingly aggressive policies of foreign competitors by deepening the links between business and the state.

In America Barack Obama, the effective owner of General Motors and a chunk of Wall Street, has turned his back on the laissez-faire approach of the past: a strategic-industries initiative is under way.”

Unfortunately, the politicians are ignoring the rest of this report:

“Yet the overwhelming reason for China’s miracle is that the state released its stifling grip and opened the country to private enterprise and to the world…

India’s wildly successful software and business-process-outsourcing industries blossomed not because of help from the government, but precisely because its [government] did not understand these nascent fields well enough to choke them off…

In the rich world, meanwhile, the record shows, again and again, that industrial policy doesn’t work.”

The Real Need

I’ll take traditional liberalism or conservatism – either one – over the current modern Democratic or Republican models.

Commonsensical uses of government spurring a free economy, or a truly free-enterprise system with a limited government effectively taking care of the basics—either would be much better than the current reality.

Canada, Greece, Israel, China, Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, many other nations, and the United States — all could use a free-enterprise upgrade.

A constitutional, free enterprising, federal democratic republic which believes in freedom and applies its principles sounds like a utopian dream.

Or, it could just be a nation run by a truly educated, wise and active citizenry.

Without citizens who are effective overseers of the government, freedom doesn’t last anywhere. Because of this, even those nations which were less hurt by the Great Recession face difficult futures.

It remains to be seen what nation (or will it be a tribe, or something else?) in the world will become the new standard of freedom.

Such leadership will naturally flow to the society whose common citizens become a new generation of great citizens—like the American founding generations.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd..

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Current Events &Economics &Foreign Affairs &Government &Leadership &Politics &Technology

Freedom Leadership: America’s Opportunity

October 15th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Futurist John Naisbitt wrote in Mindset that success in the 21st Century will go to the opportunity leaders, not the problem solvers.

America hasn’t yet figured this out. The focus of our leaders — political, corporate, media — seems mostly on problems.

As Fareed Zakaria argues, the current debate in the United States is totally out of touch with the global reality.

The news covers Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea, as have weekly talk shows. Americans are “obsessed with issues like terrorism, immigration, homeland security, and economic panics.”

But these all represent a preoccupation with the global losers of the past twenty years. Zakaria argues that the “real challenges that the country faces come from the winners, not the losers, of the new world.” (See his excellent book, The Post-American World.)

Rising — & Falling — Stars

How much are Americans thinking of the real challenges ahead, from China, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, India and Russia?

These emerging powers are on the rise economically and politically, yet most Americans are alarmingly unaware. The economic growth of these nations is increasing their clout and “producing political confidence and national pride.”

The American people and the U.S. government are unprepared to deal with these new powers and their demands, choices and might. The central role of the United States in the world is about to drastically shrink, right when Washington sees America as the world’s last super power.

American political, economic and psychological letdown is inevitable.

Many of the rising powers have sectors with free economics, less regulation, lower taxes and more opportunity than the U.S. Entrepreneurs are increasingly courted and rewarded in these nations, while they are increasingly regulated and put down in the U.S. and Western Europe.

America’s Critical Choice

The United States has a great choice ahead: increase taxes to protect jobs and benefits or free up the economy in order to really compete in the decades ahead. The first is socialism, the second is free enterprise.

But here is the great challenge: the first is seen as “fixing the economy” and the second as scary, and probably depressionary.

A scarcity mentality is the cause of socialism; abundance is the foundation of free enterprise. Clearly, America today is caught in the grip of scarcity.

Welcome to our current irony. The story most Americans know is of a powerful but fearful great nation that leads the world against dark and sinister forces of jihadism and dictatorship.

What is left out of the story are the two dozen nations who are growing, prospering, and not affiliated with either side.

Washington will be forced to rethink its domestic and global strategy; forced not by its enemies but by its competitors. They are refusing to allow its meddling, and they are starting to attract those who are seeking free markets, opportunity and freedom.

On top of all this, at the same time that Americans are losing faith in their government, the new powers are experiencing a surge of nationalism; they want to be seen as strong and to spread their ways and power like the U.S. has for so long.

As the U.S. mires itself in the worst problems around the world, the new powers are attracting capital, technology and leadership by offering opportunity and freedom.

The Simple Solution

Of course, the U.S. can solve this all in one simple way — become the most inviting nation on earth. Get rid of massive regulation and simply re-establish freedom, free enterprise, free markets, true opportunity.

To do this, it will have to stop interfering in world conflicts and trying to be more socialist than Russia or Sweden.

If it fails in either change, if it doesn’t deregulate and stop policing the world, it will decline and collapse in power as did Rome, Spain, France and Britain — all of whom followed the same sick path to failure. China, Russia and India will be the new super powers.

But America’s biggest problem is that it has lost its purpose. It became the world’s leader by promoting freedom, and it lost its purpose when its major goal became power.

The freedom purpose had enlivened its domestic and international actions, and this made it great. Power as purpose — both at home and abroad — turned Washington into a place hated around the world and by its own citizens.

The United States is powerful in many ways but not in one critical way — legitimacy. Much of the world sees the U.S. as powerful, yes, but only powerful. Not good, or great, or standing for something.

What Do We Stand For?

For America to maintain a leadership role in the decades ahead, it must stand for something.

Thomas Friedman thinks it should stand for global Green. But I’m convinced that freedom is its only path to success. Without a renewed commitment to freedom, free government, deregulation, free enterprise, America doesn’t deserve to lead the world.

America must stop policing the world, and start standing for its greatest export: freedom. Unless this happens, it won’t solve its own problems or be able to help anyone else.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Economics &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Foreign Affairs &Government &Leadership &Liberty &Politics

The New Global Aristocratic Class & the Decline of Free Enterprise

October 14th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

While regulation increases and economic freedom decreases in America, other nations are going the opposite direction.

In order to remain prosperous and strong, America must revive the principles of free enterprise that made her great.

Three New Hotspots

In a two-day span, the New York Times ran two articles — “The Tel Aviv Cluster” and “Is China the Next Enron?” — on the strengths and weaknesses of China and Israel.

Written by Thomas Friedman and David Brooks, respectively, the articles arrived at surprisingly similar conclusions.

First, at the time of the articles, both nations were economic hotspots, primarily because of the high numbers of entrepreneurs within each.

Where America has become a capitol of employeeship, in Israel and China the American Dream of “making it” through business initiative and entrepreneurial enterprise is alive and well.

India could certainly be included in this.

Second, both are zones of technological growth. Of course, this stems from entrepreneurial innovation.

Where the U.S. trains most of the world’s attorneys, Chinese, Israeli and Indian students dominate many engineering and technology enrollments in many of the world’s leading schools.

Entrepreneurship, Technology & Progress

China has low interest rates, easy credit for private and business capital, and lots of investment money flowing.

Israel, as Brooks puts it,

“…has weathered the global recession reasonably well. The government did not have to bail out its banks or set off an explosion in short-term spending. Instead, it used the crisis to solidify the economy’s long-term future by investing in research and development and infrastructure, raising some consumption taxes, promising to cut other taxes in the medium to long term.”

Friedman wrote that China has:

“…a mountain of savings…China also now has 400 million Internet users [in context, the entire population of the U.S. is just over 300 million people], and 200 million of them have broadband…Now take all this infrastructure and mix it together with 27 million students in technical colleges and universities⎯the most in the world…Equally important, more and more Chinese students educated abroad are returning home to work and start new businesses.”

Brooks wrote that:

“Tel Aviv has become one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurial hot spots. Israel has more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other nation on earth, by far. It leads the world in civilian research-and-development spending per capita. It ranks second behind the U.S. in the number of companies listed in the Nasdaq. Israel, with seven million people, attracts as much venture capital as France and Germany combined.”

Challenges Coming

Third, both China and Israel appear to be on the verge of major shifts.

The Chinese challenge ahead is to bring its political institutions up to speed with the rapid spread of economic liberties.

The Soviet Union collapsed because it tried to reform by expanding political liberty while maintaining a command economy.

Traditional Chinese communism also rejected freedom at all levels, and the attempt now is to offer economic freedom while keeping a totalitarian government.

The huge amount of savings, including “$2 trillion in foreign currency revenues” available to the Chinese government gives it a lot of power into the future.

What kind of volatility is ahead for a nation with an authoritarian and oppressive government which also has the world’s largest entrepreneurial class?

As for Israel, the challenge is that increased economic and technological success further widens the gap between Israel and its already estranged neighbors. This is a huge destabilizing factor.

As Brooks says, “Israel is an ‘astonishing success story, but also a highly mobile one.’” He suggests that if the region destabilizes, the entrepreneurial class already has connections and homes in Palo Alto, for example.

American Decline

Perhaps the most telling message of these articles is the contrast with the U.S.

We’re cutting technology programs and increasing the regulatory, tax and red-tape obstacles for entrepreneurs.

Positive gains in U.S. social justice since 1964 have unfortunately and unnecessarily coincided with the dismantling of American incentives for entrepreneurial free enterprise.

Current levels of U.S. business regulations don’t allow many American entrepreneurs to compete with their international counterparts.

Trends in China, India and Israel provide more evidence for one of the most important developments in our world: The rise of a new global aristocratic class.

Interestingly, Friedman and Brooks have both written books about the new elite (see The Lexus & the Olive Tree, On Paradise Drive, Bobos in Paradise, and others).

For example, Friedman introduced the concept of the “Electronic Herd,” a new, highly mobile elite class that manages the world’s capital from their laptops and lives in places like Mediterranean beach towns on the Spanish or French Riviera, Ashland (Oregon), Austin (Texas), the Bahamas, Buenos Aires, London and so on.

This group parties in Manhattan and Switzerland, reads the great classics of humanity and today’s latest financials, and has little connection with or allegiance to any government.

Rediscovering The American Dream

America became known around the world for two great ideals: 1) freedom, and 2) a classless society where anybody could become whatever they were willing to earn and achieve.

Together, we often called these ideals “The American Dream.”

As the U.S. regulated away our free enterprise strategic advantage — especially since 1989 — its cities become more and more like the class-based European models that many American cultural elites idealize.

Today, America’s “aristocrats” are likely to be less loyal to the United States than to their corporate connections, and Americans who consider themselves patriots are likely to be dependent on job wages and living paycheck to paycheck.

Canada and various other nations are in the same situation.

The irony here is thick.

Those who care about freedom (many of whom are Independents) may have more to learn from examples like Israel, China and India than from contemporary Washington D.C. and its increasingly Europeanized institutions, dreams and objectives.

The Effectiveness of Liberty

Just like during the American founding era, freedom in our day will flourish again in any place emphasizing entrepreneurship, free enterprise initiative and major deregulation of small business and class-oriented structures.

While many nations can learn from America’s current example of religious and racial freedoms and freedom of the press, the U.S. needs a healthy renaissance of economic and political freedom.

Until our leaders, institutions and laws once again lead the world in allowing and incentivizing entrepreneurial initiative, our freedoms and prosperity will decrease.

It is time for America to import its most valuable resource: A widespread belief in free enterprise.

The world needs less of a growing elite class and more nations where freedom is adopted and applied.

Learn More:

To learn more about the current state of geo-politics and economics, and how to revive freedom, read The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom and listen to The Four Lost American Ideals by Oliver DeMille.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Aristocracy &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Foreign Affairs &Liberty &Technology

Subscribe Via RSS & Email

Click the icon on the left to subscribe in an RSS reader, or have new articles delivered to your inbox by entering your email address: