Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Notes for a quadriformist manifesto — #11: anticipating a political realignment with new political parties

Here’s some of what I’m starting to conclude, based on my pursuits about TIMN theory and prospects for a prolonged phase transition to quadriform societies:

• At present, our two leading parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, look increasingly obsolete. Valiant thoughtful efforts by individual leaders in both parties keep generating hope that this is not so. But as collective institutions both parties seem evermore unable to work together, and too rigidly focused on immediate matters to generate truly new visions for the way ahead. The Democrats, especially those way to the Left, are stuck on old themes about reforming capitalism or adopting more socialism. The Republicans, especially those way to the Right, still talk about libertarian individualism but keep drifting toward tribalized corporatism. If Trump is reelected, that drift will surely deepen and harden.

• Meanwhile, both sides behave as though there are only two sectors for addressing policy problems: the public sector and/or the private sector. They may acknowledge, if pressed, that we live in a triform society — meaning there is also an informal civil-society homefront sector — but then they still act as though policymakers have only a binary choice: the government or the market. No one in either party foresees that an additional sector is emerging — a “social sector” (Peter Drucker’s term) or “commons sector” (David Bollier’s term)? — and that it’s rise will alter not only the policymaking framework but also the political-party landscape as leaders catch on.

• Looking ahead, there’s little reason to think that the existing public-private framework can provide durable solutions to the most critical, complicated matters our society faces, problems for which there are no easy answers and which keep coming to the fore: education, health, welfare, the environment, and related insurance issues — matters about care, broadly defined (I’ll elaborate in future posts). Decades ago these matters were manageable enough to fit, or be stuffed, into that binary framework. This is no longer the case, for they’ve all become too large and too complex, partly as a result of America’s continued growth, but more because they’ve outgrown that old binary framework in ways our parties’ politicians don’t perceive yet.

• Formal recognition and construction of a new sector, alongside and distinct from our existing public and private sectors, may prove so jarring, so disruptive, that our current Republican and Democrat parties will have to undergo, and survive, radical reconfigurations. Far more likely is that they are not up to the challenge — that ideological and political realignments will result in new parties with new names, thus a new party system. While such a reconfiguration or realignment may revolve around politicians voicing their views about particular values and issues (like today), the key underlying dynamics will be about the nature of each sector — the homefront sector, the public sector, the private sector, and the new social / commons sector — and what are deemed to be these sectors’ capabilities, responsibilities, boundaries, limits, and balances vis à vis each other.

• If TIMN is correct, it will be more essential than ever that America’s political leaders think, propose, and plan in terms of all four sectors, not just the two that dominate political dialogue today. A new sectorism should take hold, spelling the obsolescence of today’s triformist debates about capitalism and socialism, while resulting in new kinds of conservatism and liberalism suited to a quadriform society.

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The idea that the next/new/fourth/+N sector will engulf and focus on care-related matters — e.g., education, health, welfare, the environment, and related insurance matters — is my own, so far. The idea that its emergence will cause a political party realignment is also my own. But the idea that a party realignment may already be brewing comes from other analysts, as does an idea that the 2020s may give rise to increased political violence.

Here are three recent articles about all this:

— Frank Distefano’s marvelous article about “The End of the New Deal Era — and the Coming Realignment” (in The American Interest, March 2019), which proposes that “an entire stale order is crumbling down. The great debate of the 20th century is over. America is heading toward its next realignment.”
Source: era-and-the-coming-realignment/

— Adding to Distefano’s argument (without acknowledging it) is George Packer’s ”Is America Undergoing a Political Realignment?” (in The Atlantic, April 2019), which speculates that “A new Democratic coalition could be coming to power — but don’t count on it.”

— Peter Turchin’s “A Quantitative Prediction for Political Violence in the 2020s” (at his blog Cliodynamica, January 2017) that “the violence spike of the 2020s will be worse than the one around 1970, and perhaps as bad as the last big spike during the 1920s.”

[First posted on my Facebook page, May 9.]

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