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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Reconstruction of Authority

David Warsh on how attitudes toward authority have changed over time:

Public Turmoil, Then and Now, Economic Principals: ...The protests of the ’60s and ’70s – not just in the West, but in the communist countries as well – were mainly criticisms of overbearing governments, dedicated to modernist principles of growth by means of administration and planning, but subject to capture by special interests of every sort, and often completely uninterested in obtaining the consent of the governed. The dissent of that time was remarkably effective. In the end Jane Jacobs and Milton Friedman (and Rachel Carson, Martin Luther King, Betty Friedan and the Stonewall generation, for that matter) had pretty much the same effect. The world has become much more alert to the problems involved when regulation is top-down.

Today, we are in the early stages of very different times – an era of reconstruction of authority. The broad symbols of this are everywhere: an American president seeking to govern by bipartisan consensus, a Russian premier bare-chested on horseback in a Siberian stream, Chinese central bankers chiding their American counterparts about responsible borrowing (while conjuring a worrisome financial asset bubble of their own). The subtler mechanics of impending changes – in health care, in climate change, in national security – are harder to grasp. ...

Meanwhile, don’t worry overmuch about those raucous meetings, as unpleasant as they are. They’re a sideshow, further signs of the breakup of the traditional Republican Party. It will take another generation to work out the colossal differences of opinion that exist today within its ranks. Something new and worthwhile will replace today’s GOP, though not without a good deal more travail. But that’s a story for another day.

    Posted by on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 01:41 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (14)


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