Sunday, May 3, 2020

What Would Governmental and Social Forms Adapted To Change Be Like?

At the end of my post “The End Of 20th Century Democratic Capitalism” I commented that “Our system is not equipped to handle revolutionary change, but the history of the USA has been a story of nothing but. It demands a quick, disciplined response. Instead, we have panic and proposals of revolutionary change and reaction” and it has been this way for over two centuries.

What would institutional forms that responded to change look like?

There is a paradox at the heart of that question: creating lasting institutions that respond to change means to conserve as well as change.

What do we want to conserve? What changes can we allow in order to conserve it?

And here this post ends, at least for the moment because I have no idea how to finish it. In US governmental forms, we have the Executive, which can react quickly, but is autocratic in form, and the Legislative, which is democratic in form and has operated too slowly since the foundation of the Union. What might we reasonably put in place of this system?

1 comment:

Ron Steenblik said...

I presume that your full question is, "What would governmental and social forms BEST ABLE TO RESPOND AND ADAPT to change look like?"

I guess my thinking starts with the question of what is the right balance between prudence and caution, based on knowledge and experience, and boldness. Assuming that your concern is with the United States, I'd say the society suffers no unwillingness to bend with the wind, indeed in many aspects of social life I see a penchant for foolhardiness, almost for its own sake, an embrace of fads and an inability or unwillingness to acknowledge lessons that might be gleaned from the past. Those may be great liberating traits for the arts and entertainment, and the development of new consumer luxuries; I'm not convinced that they help when confronting an existential crisis.

Based on my own experience being schooled in the United States, one topic that is insufficiently taught is history -- both the warts-and-all history of the United States, and broader world history. I had maybe two history classes during my whole public school years, and those classes never got past the Reconstruction period. I don't know whether that was just bad planning by the teachers, or an expectation that we would have learned about the two world wars and the depression from our grandparents and parents. World history was an optional class in high school, and regretfully I did not take it.

Language instruction, an important adjunct to understanding history and other cultures, is also done poorly (compared with the best of the courses I've taken in Europe), or at least was in my day. One message many of us -- sons and daughters, or grandchildren of immigrants -- received was that English was the language of the United States, that previous immigrants had to learn it, and so learning a foreign language was not important.

I was required, in my senior year, to take a class in civics. I have no idea about the extent it is still offered, much less required, nowadays. The teacher tried to make it entertaining, but did not personalise it enough, show why policy and politics mattered to us individually, so most of my classmates were bored stiff. In retrospect, the teacher could have made drafting a piece of legislation the core of the course, and also at least taken us on a field trip to observe the local city council in action.

I'll stop there for now, having not really answered your question, but perhaps having started to address a few of the fundamentals.