The Broken Society

David Brooks writing for the New York Times examines how American society has been eroded from both the left’s cultural revolution and the right’s market revolution. 

First, there was a revolution from the left: a cultural revolution that displaced traditional manners and mores; a legal revolution that emphasized individual rights instead of responsibilities; a welfare revolution in which social workers displaced mutual aid societies and self-organized associations.Then there was the market revolution from the right. In the age of deregulation, giant chains like Wal-Mart decimated local shop owners. Global financial markets took over small banks, so that the local knowledge of a town banker was replaced by a manic herd of traders thousands of miles away. Unions withered.

The two revolutions talked the language of individual freedom, but they perversely ended up creating greater centralization. They created an atomized, segmented society and then the state had to come in and attempt to repair the damage.

I don’t necessarily disagree with Brooks, on any of these accounts.  It’s one of the reasons I enjoy living in Portland, with the city’s focus on supporting local businesses and farmers and their progessive social norms.

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