Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blue Social Model: That's All There Is?

Our liberal friends live and work and write as though the "developed" model for western countries, the bureaucratic social welfare state and the bureaucratic corporate model were the final end point of social development. Thus: "developed."

But Walter Russell Mead argues that they must be kidding us.

The "blue social model" had its good points, but putting working people onto unionized bureaucratic life-employment tracks and putting white-collar people into corporate bureaucratic life-employment tracks pretty obviously can't go on much longer.

Ironically, many social critics on the left were appalled by the bureaucratic system.

Social critics spent decades, rightly in my view, denouncing our school system from Pre-K through Ph.D. Mediocre, conformity inducing, alienating, time wasting: the school system trains kids to sit still, follow directions, and move with the herd.

And what we have seen over the last generation, the years after the "developed" moment in 1970, is that the economy is much more fluid and entrepreneurial than the "blue social model" assumed. We've seen remarkable changes, technological and social, in the last generation.

As the economy becomes more fluid, more entrepreneurial, it is clear that raising one generation after another of aspiring time-serving bureaucrats is not very effective.

We have a stuff-rich society where even the "poor" have a lot of material comfort. But now it's time to think beyond material to meaning.

The blue social model, for all its merits, separates production and consumption in ways that are ultimately dehumanizing and demeaning for large chunks of the population. The true value of human life does not come from consumption, even lots of consumption. It comes from producing goods and services of value through the integration of technique with a vision of social and personal meaning. Being fully human is about doing good work that means something.

Our liberal friends have been very good at designed meaning for themselves. They are all in favor of extended education, of creative arts, of meaningful activism, of saving the planet. But all these paths of meaning seem to be accompanied by notices that say "conservatives need not apply." That is, after all, the meaning of assaulting conservatives about their hateful and violent rhetoric. It is to say that conservatives have nothing to contribute to social meaning.

But our liberal friends are heading for disaster. The next social model must include everyone in the conversation, and that means a moral/cultural model that includes not just liberal discourse but moderate and conservative discourse as well.

By denying ordinary Americans the right to contribute to the cultural conversation, liberals are denying them the right to live lives of meaning.

When liberals deny the right to a life of meaning, there is only one thing to say. Liberal cultural hegemony is unjust, and it will not stand.

No comments:

Post a Comment