The Lost Decade

...Most often, wars are won and lost by a faction of a diverse ruling class. Victories validate the winners and what they stand for. Defeats usher in competitors waiting in the wings. So for example, the defeat of Lord North's cabinet in the American Revolutionary War empowered William Pitt the Younger's faction, including Adam Smith. When John F. Kennedy's old-line liberals lost the Vietnam War, their discredit empowered Democratic and Republican successors who embodied an America more collectivist at home and more timid abroad. Such changes, though big, are evolutionary because they simply bring to the fore people and ways that had been gestating within the Establishment.

When, however, the losers are a whole ruling class, and when that class is pervasive enough to have banished to society's margins any people and ideas that diverge from it, its discredit really does put society in a revolutionary situation. For example, the Soviet regime's loss of the Cold War plunged that country into a downward spiral because three generations of Communist rule had utterly destroyed living memory of anything but dysfunctional people and ways.

America's current ruling class, the people who lost the War on Terror, monopolizes the upper reaches of American public life, the ranks of those who make foreign and domestic policy, including the leadership of the Republican and Democratic parties. It is more or less homogeneous socially and intellectually. In foreign affairs, the change from the Bush to the Obama Administrations was barely noticeable. In domestic matters, the differences are more quantitative than qualitative. Dissent from the ruling class is rife among the American people, but occurs mostly on the sidelines of our politics. If there is to be a reversal of the ongoing defeats, both foreign and domestic, that have discredited contemporary America's bipartisan mainstream, heretofore marginal people will have to generate it, applying ideas and practices recalled from America's successful past....

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