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It is because older narratives about how the world works have broken down and no longer adequately make sense of how the world works. This process is, at root, I think a result of economic and technological changes, which have in turn broken down older community structures.

The manifestations of this are numerous:

  • The collapse of socialism as a credible intellectual alternative to capitalism, especially in western countries (and I would count myself in this category - if I had lived 30 or 40 years ago, I would have probably been a socialist. Today, I think socialism can't work.)
  • In the third or "developing" world, the rapid disruption of previously quite isolated rural modes of living and the susequent mass migration to megalopolises - Cairo, Mexico City, Manilla, Baghdad, Lagos, etc. - all places where fundamentalist religious has taken off in one form or another)
  • the breakdown of the European "social capitalism" model and the subsequent malaise afflicting countries like France, Germany, and Italy
  • in the United States, the collapse and offshoring of almost the entire manufacturing base, with the subsequent decimation of numerous inner-cities and the formation of minority ghettos
  • in general, an astonishing mobility of capital, facilitated by legal changes, but most importantly, by technological changes
  • while technology has given capital an advantage, it has also spurred a perhaps historically unprecedented round of migrations from third world to first world societies as well.

This is a start. Perhaps I should make this a diary as well : )
by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Thu Mar 2nd, 2006 at 06:59:59 PM EST
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