By Chet Yarbrough
The Retreat of Western Liberalism
By: Edward Luce
Narrated by: Julian Eifer
Edward Luce (Author, English journalist, Financial Times columnist and US commentator.)
Edward Luce offers a troubling picture of 21s century America. His argument depends on one’s definition of “…Western Liberalism”. If the definition is belief in human individuality and a relaxation of public custom, law, and authority, there is evidence to support Luce’s argument.
Luce notes the election of Donald Trump is not an American aberration but a symptom of “The Retreat of Western Liberalism”.
The advent of the internet has reinforced a group think driven by belief in alternative facts that create conspiracy theories. It is a discontent coming from many Americans ignored by rising wealth of a nation controlled by special interests. Trump taps into that discontent.
The irony of Trump’s rise is his personal wealth when the American gap between rich and poor is skyrocketing. Putting that irony aside, Trump suggests America can be “Great Again” by returning to a past.
Trump creates a false hope of re-industrializing America with new jobs. The falseness of Trump’s pitch is that new jobs in America are not being created by industrialization but by technology and human services. Trump’s appeal is loaded with false representations, amplified by media trolls. Public custom, law, and authority are undermined by conspiracy theories that convince Americans they have been cheated out of their fair share of America’s wealth. In truth, they have, and that is why Trump’s false pitch about “Making America Great Again” got him elected.
Trump’s anti-immigrant falsehoods feed conspiracy theories about jobs being taken from poor Americans. Equal opportunity is a function of rising wealth in the hands of the few. Public education and health care are unequally distributed in America. The wealthy can afford higher education and the best health care, the poor cannot.
Americans are poor because they are being denied equal opportunity, not because of immigration.
Education and health care are critical for American labor’s adjustment to a changing world. Private industry and the government have equal responsibility for assisting all Americans, not just those who have benefited from the technological revolution.
Job transition requires re-education and on-job training by employers that offer decent wages and health care.
Luce’s point is a “rising tide has not lifted all boats”. The technological revolution offers the same potential for western liberalism as the industrial revolution. The election of Donald Trump was America’s “wake up” call.
A large part of America’s population has been left out of the American Dream of western liberalism that came from opportunities provided by the industrial revolution.
Western liberalism needs to be reinvented by investment in a technological revolution for all Americans, not just those who have benefited from the industrial revolution. The question is whether private industry and the government are up to the task. Will western liberalism be reinvented and promoted by ossified industrial leaders and elected representatives? Most industry leaders and elected representatives are satisfied with the status quo while too many Americans struggle to make mortgage or rent payments. Luce defines the problem but offers no solution.