Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Notes for a quadriformist manifesto — #5: a recap of basic notions, to help move me out of doldrums and back up to speed

The deepest systemic struggle underway in our society is barely noticeable at this point. It’s the struggle between a centuries-old “triformism” on the one hand, and an emergent “quadriformism” on the other. It’s a struggle that should grow to reshape all the divisive struggles that currently dominate philosophical, ideological, and political discourse in our country: e.g., those about conservatism versus liberalism (and progressivism), about capitalism versus socialism, about public versus private sector solutions, not to mention a slew of struggles over race, class, ethnicity, identity, and other social, cultural, and economic issues. All these struggles and the arguments behind them will likely remain irresolvably stuck to America’s detriment, or they will be redefined to America’s benefit, depending on whether the aging forces of triformism continue to prevail or give way to the awakening forces for quadriformism.

From a TIMN (Tribes + Institutions + Markets + Networks) perspective (see earlier posts for explanation), America is in the early throes of evolving (or failing to evolve) from an aging triform (T+I+M) system into a next-stage quadriform (T+I+M+N) system. Our triform system has served America well for over two centuries, generating abundant progress. But our society’s complexity has grown so much that the triform model is no longer well suited to enabling our leaders to address and resolve America’s growing accumulation of problems — our triform system is becoming evermore muddled, for our society is outgrowing its capabilities.

The emergence of the +N/networks form of organization is still in its early phases, and its still not clear what it means for the evolution of quadriform societies in the coming decades (and centuries). Yet, +N’s emergence already lies behind the loosening, both functional and dysfunctional, of our T+I+M system, and helps explain the reversions to a malignant tribalism (the dark side of the T form) that now plague our triform system.

The triform model has depended on the evolution of three sectors — an informal base sector of families, communities, and other kinship associations (from T), plus a public sector (from +I) and a private sector (from +M) — and for many past decades these three sectors have thrived and worked fairly well together. But today all three sectors are in faltering if not failing shape: families and communities are in distress and disarray all across America, while our public and private sectors are failing to work well together. Both of the latter two have extreme proponents who seek to overemphasize one or the other sector, in expansive ways that ultimately distort and confound the capabilities of the triform model.

This is especially true for policy matters that not only require public-private cooperation, but also that no longer fit clearly into either the public or the private sector. I refer in particular to health, education, environmental, and welfare matters, as I’ve explained in other posts. Such matters would benefit, as would American society as a whole, by enabling a new sector — by best accounts, a social or commons sector — to take hold formally alongside the other sectors, and by migrating into that new sector the policy matters and entities I mentioned above.

In short, America’s best hopes reside in adapting to and finding advantages in the rise of the fourth cardinal form of social organization and evolution — the information-age networks-based +N form. Our leaders should begin figuring out how best to use this form for society’s benefit in association with the earlier three forms. This may well mean consciously deliberately enabling the creation of a fourth sector — in all likelihood, a new social or commons sector — whose functioning will improve conditions for the other earlier sectors as well.

Triformism served our past growth, but it’s era is ending. It’s time to advance the idea of quadriformism, for it can provide a better organized and thus a brighter future for America.

More to follow, including on why these ideas should appeal as much to conservatives as to liberals and progressives.

[Revised from version posted on my FaceBook page, February 19, 2019.]

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