Global Weirding Coming At Us All
Published on: July 14, 2011
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  • John Barker

    The mainstream media appears to be a dried up stream. I am beginning to find many of my old favorites such as Commentary and Economist rather dull and predictable. I turn to WRM for entertainment and enlightenment.(There is an element of gallows humor in these pages.) I can learn much about many things I wish were not happening but are. At least I can take some action to better prepare myself and those who depend on my leadership.

  • Jay Dugger

    Please separate the longer essays and the short form posts into two different feeds. I value Via Meadia’s essays more, and I prefer to read only those.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      The tech wizards will look into this and send you a reply. Thanks for bearing with us while we pull the new system together. In the meantime, the essays are clearly marked on the site.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      I should have also mentioned that the “Mead in Depth” column lists only the longer pieces; you can click on any one of the pictures and it will take you directly to the essay of your choice.

      I’m chuffed as the Brits would say that so many people care so much about the long pieces, and thanks again for your interest in what I’m trying to do.

  • I’m glad for the announcement of your new short form blog, and plan to follow it – but don’t you think you overdid the paragraph with our technocratic elites being mostly a bunch of rule followers and incrementalists?

    You seem to be looking at America and Europe through one point of view, and then you change it when you look at East Asia.

    But what if we view China and India through the same lens you apply to us? Where are the Stowes and Hamiltons of China? If these country-continents, as you call them, did rise as far as they did, how come we don’t know their Roosevelts and Churchills?

    And if they are bound to shift the paradigm, how come their technocrats are just as bureaucratic if not worse than our technocrats?

    Because you write about our elites in the US:

    “…They got where they are by scoring well on tests, manipulating the platitudes of conventional wisdom a little better than the next guy and by pleasing their supervisors.”

    But that’s no different from China and India – if anything, their tests are more ruthlessly selective, and they begin earlier on, with consequences attached to students.

    As to the culture of pleasing supervisors, can’t speak for China, but it is a distinguishing feature of how things generally work in India.

    So what is it then? What will put India and China ahead of us?

    Ah, you’ll say, their work force dwarfs us and they’ll get ahead of us not by quality but just by sheer numbers. It’s not their individuals which will get ahead of us: it’s their societies.

    And implicit in that thought is something perhaps you should have acknowledged when taking about the challenge from China and India: it is the fact that they have a culture of individual-within-society which we lack, and from which we could learn, which will challenge us and will force us to adapt.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      The piece doesn’t actually say that China and India will replace us, or even that they will succeed in overcoming their problems. Those societies also are facing forces that nobody really understands and that they aren’t ready for. Nobody there or here knows how all this will work out. I actually think the US is a bit better prepared than other countries for what is coming, but nobody is guaranteed a quiet life in the 21st century.

  • Luke Lea

    Good luck on the short-form. It is largely a matter of taste (editorial judgment?) what you decide to include and exclude. Just do a better job than the NYT and NPR!

    You can provide the titles and links to your long-form essays in a column to the right of the main text area; lots of blogs do that.

    I hope the future is not as wild as you predict. But if it is here are a couple of fascinating links to ponder: one about China and Africa, the other on why our nerdy elites are so clueless. For some even unkinder remarks about nerds see here. (Written by a nerd I would guess!)

  • Toni in Texas

    We may need a TR, Churchill, Stowe or Hamilton but I fear it’s a fond wish. Their world was a fraction of its present size, in population, economic complexity, technological sophistication, and incalculable other ways. During Teddy’s lively, strenuous 60 years, he found time to write 38 books. We shall not see his like again, because our times aren’t his.

    I humbly request you to reconsider what you call “the small ‘c’ conservative ideas of our leaders and chattering classes.” At bottom, political conservatism is about conserving the best of the past, the values and traditions to which we can hold in a tumultuous world.

    For example, nobody would like to go back to the 1950s and Jim Crow and pre-forensic police forces. But is there any doubt that the family ideal of the Cleavers, Ozzie & Harriett, the Petries and their like remains the best situation in which to raise children? Not with women chained to the kitchen, but aren’t married couples trying to do the best by their spouses and their children the best guarantors of a healthy society in the future?

    Statistically, these circumstances are the best for children. Yet the blue social model considers the traditional nuclear family to be merely one among infinitely elastic permutations of adult/child households, all of them valid choices. Are they really equally valid for the children?

    I’m not the most articulate spokesperson for conservatism, but please consider the possibility that conservatism is more than a catchword for trivial, irrelevant ideas.

    Between China and India, I suggest that India is far less dangerous. China is a beast we’ve never seen: a large post-Marxist country with military ambitions. Whatever ills the British might have inflicted, they created India as a country and left behind the world’s largest democracy with an embedded rule of law and, now, the world’s largest middle class. I believe India to be similar to 19th-c. America: plenty corrupt but plenty ambitious, with individuals striving in a more or less free economy to make what they can of their lives.

  • Toni in Texas

    In what century was anybody guaranteed a quiet life?

  • Tom

    Amid all the noise of the presidential race and the budget/deficit battle, there is one candidate who has a plan for eliminating the deficit today, not ten years from now, and getting the U.S. and the economy back on track. He’s not well known but that’s changing. He’s not only written on how to balance the budget and get the economy going, but on tax reform, how to rein in health care costs, and a host of other issues facing America. His ideas are based on common sense and logic. Check out his “about us” page. He’s been a soldier, a businessman, and is currently a teacher. A citizen president perhaps? http://www.gradyforpresident.com.

  • @ #2, Jay Dugger:
    Here are the links to the feeds for the short and long posts:

    Essay RSS

    Quick Takes RSS

    They’re going into the sidebar shortly.

  • The one thing we can control collectively — our government and its interactions with the private economy—need to be changed to ensure that those who do understand what is going on (entrepreneurs, mavericks and renegades) can pass the value of their innovations to the rest of us without the hindering gave of those technocratic elites.

    Just like you are changed your blog format to work keep up with and better explain the urgency of our times, our economic governance needs to change too. The analogue to your new blog in this context is the LMAD Plan, a plan that gives free range to the mavericks while still maintaining the safety nets of modern society.

    The LMAD plan is comprehensive. Healthcare-for-All? It’s in there. Balanced budget? It’s in there. Carbon tax? It’s in there. Rational taxation? Amnesty? Border Security? Limited government? Social Security and Medicare solvency? It’s all in there; it’s all paid for and it’s all optimized to grow the US economy in these austere and urgent times.

    It’s time for progressives concerned about rising temperatures and conservatives concerned about rising federal debt to realize the obvious: they need to BUY each other off in order to effectively address their pet ideological concerns-there is no other way. This means trading, among other things, a carbon tax for a balanced budget amendment and a more limited government. This plan is outlined at http://letsmakeadeal-thebook.com

    Plan Blog: letsmakeadeal-thebook.com/

    Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Lets-Make-A-Deal-The-Book/143298165732386

    Twitter: twitter.com/#!/lmadster

    Or just Google “LMADster” for more info.

  • Peter

    New formate is good and very useful.

    And I feel you’re 100% correct on the power of blogging.

  • don

    Hum, Marshal someone and the message is the medium? Problem is we only think we know what has happened (subject to semantic games over pragmatic interests), are pretty much pre-reflective with what’s currently happening, and have no idea (experience) of what the future will bring. No wonder we generally think life will be more of the same, but on a higher post industrial level. I wonder if the monks thought the same–there will always be the primacy of the monastery– even as the printing press got going?

  • Lulu

    I don’t totally agree with your take on this. My guess is that there has been at least two generations in which academia and the culture at large has been trying to embrace “upside down” logic.

    It likely started with religion – the idea that science could somehow completely replace religion has been a subtle movement in all public education for quite some time now, and yet with greater scientific knowledge much of Darwinian evolution is proving to be incompetent. Most likely survival of the fittest as an answer to the “how’s” of evolution is going to fail – and due to the dogmatic adherence to this idea in the face of it’s obvious failures for so long it will throw both science and philosophy into a tailspin.

    This idea that science replaces religion has lead to many political ideas that are proving to be fallacious as well. For example Communism which holds as it’s central tenant atheism. It must in order that the Proletariat to self govern through their own conscience and live communally. Many religious sects have lived communal lives throughout history – but that was always achieved out of deference to a deity. Communism argued that a group of selfish greedy Bourgeoises were enslaving the Proletariate and so must be murdered at which point an oasis of communal living would result. While in Europe and America these ideas weren’t embraced full bore they did result in very upside down social and political models. From graduated income taxes to tax funded day care we have been trying to replace the healthy natural results of human failure – which is necessary for capitalism to succeed – and in so doing have been replacing the obvious benefits that came as well.

    This, almost stubborn determination, to do away with centuries of wisdom in the face of our superior knowledge (again a throw back to the insistence of a Darwinian belief that we must know more than our forefathers as we are more evolved – all evidence of amazing human ancient history to the contrary) has blinded us to how our decisions are failing us. It’s turning out that spending more money than you have is still just a bad idea. Just like people thought it was for thousands of years… we didn’t somehow magically evolve out of the reality that debt costs far more in the long run and is terribly dangerous for the person indebted to others – what a surprise?? It turns out that raising children to have manners and to learn hard work and discipline is still best – of course after tons of parents have attempted “creative expression” and find 30 year olds still living at home and borrowing from mom and dad – a college education was supremely necessary in the face of the fact that the graduate often has no actual work skills. Or a Mother and Father can work full time and put their children in day care 60 hours per week from 6 weeks of age and they will be fine. Have you been around a child who has spent this kind of time without a primary care provider from birth?? They are often psychological damaged, angry, violent, children. All because in our upside down world kids don’t actually need time with their mother and father (and God forbid we ever make anyone feel guilty for choosing money over family).

    I agree that we are in for a virtual Armageddon as all of these bad philosophies get worked out or our global system. Please understand that I’m not saying that Darwinian evolution isn’t still a valid thought, or that all social programs are awful – but the knee jerk reaction by several generations to replace “common sense” with their superior ideas have consequences that we are all going to have to deal with. Common sense was common for a reason – but as a great many ancient philosophies (taoism for example) would argue, this will simply be an interesting swing of a pendulum as humanity had gone through a time of experimentation and is now ready to return to more well reasoned behavior. An ancient idea – still valid – that will remain so long after our “evolved special wisdom” has found it’s way to the ash heap of history.

  • Dick Hanson

    Both forms will be appreciated very much and I will look forward to reading them.

  • Owen

    Your long essays are a (for me, newly-found) treasure and I look forward to them; and now, also, to the short-form digests. (You rightly cite Instapundit as a “genius” of blogging: economical, timely, catholic, honest, drily funny).

    Regarding “global weirding,” I hope you will develop your basic argument that change is a-coming. At that level it’s trivial; but, just as your foundational remarks about our cities and the fate of urban poor seemed trite, they were unassailably true, and allowed you to build toward inferences that are useful, strong and even somewhat surprising. So, please continue: your thinking makes a real difference out here. Thanks again.

  • Harold

    And in all this, not mentioned is another HUGE social change that always brings instability to a culture- an imbalance of males over females. A much larger imbalance then nature has ever produced- and in India and China.

    There will be changes in both societies because of that. Or war between them- the traditional way to get rid of excess males.

  • Tom in SFCA

    As long as we’re making technical requests, would you please in the future include a button we can push for a printer-friendly version?

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Over to the tech wizards…

  • Gene

    Toni in Texas, I’d like to turn around your point about “great leaders” to make the opposite argument. All of the leaders arose in worlds that were not only smaller, but featured societies that dramatically restricted the groups of people from whom those “leaders” could arise. Suppose that the greatest genius in human history had been a contemporary of Hamilton or TR, but also a black woman or an Indian untouchable? That person would have had no chance to be a member of the Continental Congress or president of a powerful nation. Clearly there are still groups whose members are at clear disadvantages in their ability to rise to positions of power, but we do live in a world with a far larger population (i.e., offering a far larger opportunity for human genetic outliers) and with far fewer insurmountable barriers to prominence. Don’t be so pessimistic.

  • Bonfire of the Idiocies

    The problem is exacerbated by the fact the technocratic elites apparently have no introspection; it doesn’t even occur to them they can be wrong or perhaps a change of course is required. A fool who knows he is a fool is less dangerous in a command position than a fool who believes himself to be a genius. The former is reluctant to rush in where the latter charges full speed ahead.

  • SteveL

    You express here, with more eloquence, many of the points I’ve raised in other groups. Change and the human capacity to adapt to it are behind most issues, everywhere. Technically, socially, economically, morally, we’ve been on a wild ride since about 1990. Whole industries have been rendered moot almost overnight. Ways of life have been lost.

    With an ever accelerating pace of change, we may ask, who has the brake? It isn’t difficult to see how some can come to embrace Islam (or fundamentalist Christianity) as the brake, as the only way they can recover or retain what they had in the past. Never before in human history has a single generation been expected to endure a lifespan in which little is the same at the time of death as it was in their youth. The sheer stress of that is staggering.

    It’s going to be a wild ride indeed.

  • dhornatlan

    My personal advice is to simultaneously read more history (a tip of the had to Brendan) and more science fiction (since Bear, Card, Ballard, Pournelle, Pynchon, et all) have seen the changes coming before anyone else, and are brutally honest that they have no answers.

    Yes, that and let’s all keep posting and blogging. Professor Mead, you help me order my world!

    My own vague theory is that to understand the global economy, we will need to meld macroeconomics, microeconomics, liquidity theory and institutional economics into a new synthesis that borders on anthropology with a honestly radical, nonpolitical, objectivity. This essential effort would seemingly require the temporary abandonment of all political shibboleths both left and right. Indeed, “what will come out of economics?”

  • Paul Manner

    “We then place them in large, bureaucratically run institutions and expect them to deal creatively with the unexpected, the revolutionary and the totally new.”

    Well, no. They place themselves there, and then bitterly resist any attempt by outsiders to change things. It’s the triumph of the credentialed Mandarins, like 19th century China. I keep expecting to see the Dowager Empress wander in.

  • My long-term projection has been, for the past 20 years, that China
    is facing great turmoil in the 2019-2021 era.

    The lack of 50 million women, a sexual imbalance from the one child
    policy, combines with uneven growth that sent millions from the cities
    back to primitive villages with no jobs, land problems, etc, etc.

    Politicometrically, regimes get a major shakeup at their 72-year points,
    as the US did with the Civil War, and dozens of other examples.
    (See Politicometrics.) That is 2021, and part of a 36-year cycle, that
    also appears in dozens of nations.

    1912 Revolution
    1949 Communist takeover
    1985 Deng’s Reforms
    2021 ??

    Russia for Compoarison
    1881 Narodnik Reforms
    1917 Russian Revolution
    1953 Reforms at Stalin;s Death
    1989 Perestroika

    US for comparison
    1788 Constitution passed
    1824 Jacksonians
    1860 Civil War
    1896 Progressive era
    1932 New Deal
    1968 Southern Strategy
    2004 Tea Party Era

    The largest American problem comes if, during this crisis, a desperate China dumps alot of our debt due to their extreme need. Other than the Islamic Terrorist problems, this is the greatest foreign policy problem.
    But there are impacts on other questions, such as how many troops we continue to have in Iraq after the Occupation ended in 2005, when sovereignty was returned to Iraqi authority.
    The answer on China: Sharply REDUCE our national debt before the crisis.

    I plan, around 2019 to put most of my resources into “selling short” on Chinese stocks.

  • MarkD

    Ah, yes, the Ozzie and Harriet 1950s. They raised my generation, the one the best and brightest sent to Vietnam.

    Everybody is going to be wrong. The trick is to make sure that their wrongs do little harm. The best way I know to do that is to limit their power over me.

  • Jacknut

    Shouldn’t the short form blog be called Meadeias In Res?

    *ducks to avoid brickbats*

  • I defined “Global Weirding” in the Urban Dictionary a few months ago. You guys might like it. It needs some more thumbs up. Here it is:

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=global%20weirding

  • Walt,

    Unlike your point of viewbut maybe you need to get out of Queens every so often. What happens when we burn all that fuel … Does the air get any better?

  • Pete E

    The master of short news links was John Hawkins at RightWingNews. He used to compile the daily news in neat categories with amazingly effective one sentence summaries. Others do it. No one else did it as well.
    Unfortunately, this wasn’t his passion. He gave up on this part of his blog years ago. I can’t even find it in his archives.

  • Carl

    Great essay. I predict that the next great leader will be a reader of Science Fiction, and not afraid to say so.

  • Anthony

    WRM, you have been on to systemic permutation for quite a while and have quite well via American Interest sounded alarm; the general cry goes out for acknowledgement by our “ruling class” (governing classes) to see what is happening (an outworn, patched politico-economic system cracking); while to the average American it appears no serious steps are being taken to ascertain the causes and remedies. WRM, can one venture to say the causes of American insufficiency at home and abroad is political (cultural).

  • Nate Whilk

    “…the internet can be a comfortable home for the traditional personal essay.”

    Absolutely, when the style and content are clear and concise, like yours.

  • Luke Lea

    On the technical front, in commenting windown how about a link button and an edit button and a delete button?

  • Toni in Texas

    Greg, you make a very valid point. But I still believe that this world is so much more complex, the odds of finding someone who can master it all and make a TR-style difference are in inverse proportion to the complexity.

    Remember to be careful what you wish for. History has also thrown up leaders like Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler, Hitler and Mao. What if the gene pool produces someone who *can* master today’s vast complexity, but with pernicious and/or misguided motives?

    Isn’t it wisest to be not optimistic or pessimistic, but realistic? To the best of our always fallible abilities.

  • diana

    John D anticipated my comment: you left out the massive sex ratio imbalance in both India and China. I am interested to see how you deal with this in future blog posts.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      One of the interesting facts about our world: there are so many factors pointing toward massive instability and change that no single blog post can list them all.

  • Usually I’m a little suspicious about writing that claims things are fundamentally different now than they have ever been in the past – things are always changing, always have, always will – but your observations on elites and the frightening promise of the future do ring true.

    When I hear our “leaders” speak, I am constantly amazed and appalled at their myopic worldview and lack of understanding of basic logical precepts. I can’t help but compare that to the insight and genius that is on display when I sit down and talk with successful “small” businessmen and try to glean what I can from their experience.

    I quoted you in my Friday “What I learned this week” thing. http://wp.me/p1A7bl-c5

  • Jim.

    A note about India —

    Look at some graphs of world electricity consumption. China’s has grown at an astonishing rate. (The old East Bloc’s collapsed with Communism.) India’s has remained largely flat; or at least, has not grown nearly so much as we would expect or hope from an ally presumed to be some kind of tech powerhouse.

    We need more than just India. We need Japan to recover.

  • Interesting read, long form and all.

    Learned predictions based on the recent past will never serve in times of upheaval. Who, amongst the Byzantines and Sassanid Persians of the sixth century, predicted that the untidy tribal societies of Arabs between their two warring empires would dominate the coming century? Who would have believed that the upheaval would come within years, and that its stupendous progress might best be measured in months? Is it reasonable on our part to expect such foresight, then or now?

    It’s terrible luck that we can’t know the big stuff till it happens. It’s terrible judgement that we promote and enrich those who claim to know.

    “Put money in thy purse.” Iago was right. A general preparedness is the West’s best defense. True liberalism may yet win out. Our worst defense is the self-maiming and self-loathing currently promoted by our Green Betters, who, like all the worst people, are guided by the “settled science” of a brief historical moment.

  • WigWag

    “Except for some entrepreneurs, mavericks and renegades, our technocratic elites are mostly a bunch of rule followers and incrementalists. They got where they are by scoring well on tests, manipulating the platitudes of conventional wisdom a little better than the next guy and by pleasing their supervisors.” (Walter Russell Mead)

    It is unclear to me whether Professor Mead is confused about the definitions of the words “technocrat,” “elite” or both. At the very least he is conflating the enormous world of America’s “middle managers” who may very well have achieved whatever success they’ve garnered by “scoring well on tests” with American elites most of whom have achieved their success based on their talent.

    Perhaps the Professor will enlighten us about exactly who these “elites” are who have reached the pinnacle of power in the United States by “manipulating the platitudes of conventional wisdom a little better than the next guy.”

    Is he talking about the elites who reign in the world of high tech? Is he speaking about Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison or Eric Schmidt? It’s true that Professor Mead exempts “entrepreneurs” from his tirade about elites but neither Steve Ballmer nor Eric Schmidt (whom I believe Professor Mead knows personally) can be called entrepreneurs; they merely took over companies founded by other people.

    When he refers to “technocratic elites,” is he referring to the world of high finance? Does he think George Soros (whom Professor Mead also knows) reached elite status because he pleased his supervisor? How about hedge fund manager John Paulson who made $5 billion last year speculating in gold; what supervisor did he suck up to?

    If the “technocratic elites” Mead is referring to are in the banking industry, does he mean to suggest that Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase who figured out how to steer his bank away from the calamity that nearly sunk so many other banks can attribute both his success and his elite status to how well he performed on a standardized test? What about Bob Rubin the former Secretary of the Treasury, Goldman Sachs, CEO and Citibank Vice Chairman; is Professor Mead referring to him when he snarks about our untalented elites?

    Does Professor Mead care to extend his comments about technocratic elites to elites in other fields? In the world of music, does he think that Yo Yo Ma, Renee Fleming or Lady Gaga have reached elite status by manipulating conventional platitudes? What about elite actors like Kevin Kline or elite figures from the world of sports like Peyton Manning or Mariano Rivera; whom did they trick into bestowing the status of “elite” on them?

    What about the world of academics; are Harold Bloom (the great literary critic from Yale), Peter Berger (the brilliant emeritus sociologist from Boston University) or Leon Botstein (the extraordinary musician and President of Bard) elites in the intellectual community because they scored slightly better on standardized tests than their colleagues?

    Even in the world of politics, few candidates who have achieved elite status succeeded for the reasons Professor Mead assures us are important. In the political world the two most likely roads to success are being an outstanding communicator like Bill Clinton or a member of the lucky sperm club like George W. Bush, Jerry Brown and numerous members of the Kennedy clan.

    And what about Professor Mead himself; how are we to account for his elite status? It seems to me it is well earned and deserved; he didn’t fool anyone to get where he is. What makes him so sure that most of the other members of the same elite class he belongs to are so much less deserving than he is?

  • Doug

    So I guess we can call these folks Global Weirdos.

  • I agree with some aspects of your long and thoughtful post, but I detect a certain underlying gloom about human activities over the next hundred years and an acceptance of failure. I question that.

    The future is always in doubt. History can always be interpreted to indicate potential disaster. This was true in the pre-teen 1900’s and in the 1930’s. There was significant misjudgement and human failure during both periods. Ultimately this lead to world wars and terrible calamity. Leaders with known and previously unknown abilities came forward to point the way. So too with the future. Human calamity may be on the way, but the leaders of the near-term future probably exist on earth now. By leaders, I mean true born men and women endowed by their creater with extraordinary abilities to lead. Our current crop of leaders don’t fit in this group. Our current leaders are politicians, not true born leaders of men. When crisis strikes; however, the true leaders will come. Societies, countries may change to some degree, but not all that much. We are on the upward curve of the life cycle of man, world wars are minor anomalies on the upward trend. With the exception of some world shattering natural disaster, man has a long and beneficial road ahead. On a human time scale the future looks dangerous, but on a geologic time scale things look fine.

    Doug Santo
    Pasadena, CA

  • Ken

    I actually think the 21st century will be better than you think. I think right now we’re going through a period similar to Great Britain in the 1680’s, and that we’ll see something akin to the Glorious Revolution in this country, followed by some foreign wars that will essentially end as limited victories. Over the next 80 to 90 years I think we’ll see the space frontier opened up commercially, which will greatly enhance standards of living.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      I hope you are right and that is one of the scenarios I can see as possible. The trouble is, some other and grimmer ones are also possible. Best guess: a mix.

  • Luke Lea

    @WigWag: Ouch!

  • Whit

    A decade ago while an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, I argued in a World Politics class that change is natural and should be acknowledged rather then loathed. I was not as brilliant or witty as our humble Professor Mead but I made my points. This was not through any special insight of mine but rather my response to the topic of layoffs and job description changes that came up in a discussion group about global economies. It was based on my, at that time, simple logical observations of life. Folks who lost their jobs were going to have to adapt- learn new skills, develop multiple income streams, etc, etc. My ideas were poo-pooed away by many students who decried the idea and unfairness of someone who having developed a career, could be forced to change midstream. Time has given me the conclusion that many of my classmates were children of families living in the DC area, used to the idea that careers are immutable and a right, once obtained in the federal bureaucracy and/or the attendant contractor class and that such protests to my thoughts may not have been coincidental. Time has since validated my observations, in my humble opinion. Of course opposed to making any productive use of this global change is our sclerosis ridden Fed bureaucratic class, deathly afraid of anything that might endanger its stranglehold on revenue streams from the more productive sectors of the national economy…the parasite is quickly becoming a danger to its host. Of course, the host will be blamed for running out of blood.

  • Well said! The thrust of your post strikes me as being consistent with Tom Sowell in the book Intellectuals and Society (and other places. That is, the world’s knowledge (problems, solutions, feasibility, current conditions, etc.) is in massive excess of that knowledge held by the bureaucracy/elites/chatterers. While there are a great many ‘blogs of observation’ it seems to me that a big part of the real challenge to observe the important things.

  • As the Chinese say, “May you live in weird times.”

    I wonder if all this punditry will make any difference? At least it will be there to record all the weirdness, and the thrills, and the disasters.

  • LMAD:

    No deal.

    Lulu:

    As we learn more details our knowledge evolves. None the less – selective reproduction explains a lot. And it may explain everything. Darwin is a work in progress. Does Darwin replace God? Well no. He just puts God in a different place than we imagined. No harm in that.

  • WigWag

    Comments not permitted on short posts so let me make an off-topic recommendation to Professor Mead based on his post about durian. If you like durian smoothies and ice cream (and who doesn’t) a great place in Queens to get them (as well as the fruit itself) is downtown Flushing. Get off the 7 train at Main Street and walk in any direction at random and you have a good chance of finding it (out of season you can buy frozen purée.)

    One place in particular you may want to try is the Hong Kong Supermarket. In addition to the one in Flushing there is also a branch in East Elmhurst; neither are far from anyone living in Queens. You can probably travel from the Mead mansion to either location in under 30 minutes.

    By the way, durian is awesome as an ingredient in frozen margaritas.

    Is the increasing popularity of durian a symptom of global weirding?

    Best,

    WigWag

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Many thanks for the durian coordinates. A trip east on the F train looms in my future. On short post comments, the next week should see the roll out of a comments policy. As you know, we invest a lot of time in curating the comments on the essays; we want to maintain the (generally) high quality of our commenting community. And thanks for your continued interest in the site.

  • eDub

    WRM:

    News that Michele Bachmann has ended her membership in a brand of Lutheranism that condemns the Papacy as Antichrist is a sign that the forces making America a tolerant country as well as a religious one are still at work.  In national politics, bigots can’t win…

    Peoria, it appears, is well worth a mass — and that is very good news for the United States.

    As a WELS Lutheran, I find it very offensive that you think it ok to call me (and my synod) bigots because we (and by we, I mean probably the 5% of WELS members who know of this belief) find il papa antithetical (much less controversial, no?) to what Jesus taught.

    But does that mean 1) I am anti-Catholic or 2) necessarily anti-papal? No. Indeed, I have many Catholic friends who I believe are saved, and I am of the belief that the papacy has much less control of the Catholic church now than in Luther’s time.

    In his day, I agree that the popes had so distorted the Bible that church members didn’t really know the certainty of their salvation. Today millions of Protestants (and I sincerely hope Catholics) do and are therefor part of the holy catholic (note the lowercase) church.

    However, the more interesting thing in my pov revolves around a different doctrinal issue. I (and I would freely state that a much larger percentage of communicants will confess) to young earth creationism. Strangely, I had wondered how a WELS candidate would be received by the public, and I (mistakenly) thought that YEC would be the disqualifying factor. But apparently I was wrong. It was a much smaller and, in my view, a much less controversial point that “convinced” mrs. bachmann that she was no longer a WELS Lutheran.

  • eDub

    Sorry that I didn’t post to your newer blog format but to be honest, I didn’t know that there was a way.

  • We have installed a service called Print Friendly for printing individual articles, or for saving them as PDFs. There’s a little green printer icon at the top of each article now by the title. Please give it a whirl and let us know what you think.

  • yush

    The problem with the American elite is that they live in a world of intellectualism so finely constructed, that they rarely look on the outside for solutions and inspiration. Not the case with China’s rising elite class. Can’t say about India. This might be a generalization, but from what I’ve experienced, the American elites are a lot close-minded than I thought they would be, be it with the students or those who are already working.

  • Salman Rushdie may be a fine novelist,but as a film critic of SM he simply falls flat..One can clearly see that he is jealous of SMs success..I prefer that he keeps his big mouth shut and concentrate only on writing novels..

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