What comes next, after Liberalism?

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright September 2018


This essay was inspired by reading this 13 Sep 18 Economist article, A manifesto for renewing liberalism -- Success turned liberals into a complacent elite. They need to rekindle their desire for radicalism, which talks about their worry that liberalism is getting complacent.

From the article, "LIBERALISM made the modern world, but the modern world is turning against it. ...

For The Economist this is profoundly worrying. We were created 175 years ago to campaign for liberalism—not the leftish “progressivism” of American university campuses or the rightish “ultraliberalism” conjured up by the French commentariat, but a universal commitment to individual dignity, open markets, limited government and a faith in human progress brought about by debate and reform."

This worry about complacency is a valid one. But, as I thought about it, I also thought about how technology is still changing how we live. And one of those changes is political -- what are political and intellectual movements that are going to make sense in the upcoming decades when technology is making so many changes to how we live?

In the Neolithic Village (Stone Age) environment tribalism makes sense as a good form of government. In the Agricultural Age environment monarchy makes sense as a good form of government. Monarchy deals well with the well known issues that face Agricultural Age communities. When the Industrial Age burst upon the scene it brought lots of new and strange challenges to the communities that were embracing it -- factories and workers in addition to fields and peasants. These new issues needed lots of talk and experimenting to find good solutions. It was the democratic form of government that provided a better venue for this than monarchy did. This is why it got embraced first in North America and then in Western Europe.

Nowadays, in the first quarter of the twenty first century, times and technologies have changed again. We now have things such as big data and artificial intelligence which can reveal more about a community's condition and how a community is thinking. And these can change how community goals are accomplished. Is it time to change our political structure again?

If so, what will be the hot, new, post-democracy, post-liberal governing structures that will mesh well with our modern times and technologies?

Perhaps we will begin to find out over the next decade.

We will find out first in those communities that are embracing these new technologies to the fullest, and are not being complacent about their politics and political structures. These will be communities that currently have a compelling Big Vision and feel strongly motivated to achieve it. In this they will resemble the North Americans of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who were mixing Industrial Revolution with taming a wilderness and having a stimulating time doing so.



--The End--