Monday, August 15, 2011

Hardening class divisions?

Joel Kotkin writes extensively about the future of cities. He is pessimistic about the lessons of the London riots.

The hardening of class divisions has been building for a generation, first in the West but increasingly in fast-developing countries such as China. The growing chasm between the classes has its roots in globalization, which has taken jobs from blue-collar and now even white-collar employees; technology, which has allowed the fleetest and richest companies and individuals to shift operations at rapid speed to any locale; and the secularization of society, which has undermined the traditional values about work and family that have underpinned grassroots capitalism from its very origins.

Incidentally, Kotkin is not usually one to stress class. The article originally appeared in Forbes.

Walter Russell Mead adds:

Kotkin’s vision of the future is bleak, and highlights the challenges we face going forward. As globalization and new technologies accelerate the pace of destabilizing social change, old solutions to these problems become increasingly obsolete. Nobody yet knows the way forward — least of all established intellectuals, who are mostly still in love with the paradigms of the past.  A return to the blue model ideas of the 1960s is not the answer; neither is a return to the Victorian capitalism of the 1880s.  The 21st century demands something new, and if history is any guide, life will be scary and hard while we blunder our way toward something new.

I couldn't agree more, which is why I am trying to think through some of this on this blog. We have enough material abundance. But something deeper is going wrong.

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