What is the cause of the extreme divisiveness in American society? New York Times columnist, David Brooks, in his October 21, 2016 column “Repairing Moral Capital” (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/21/opinion/how-to-repair-moral-capital.html) has a good explanation. It is the lack of shared habits, norms, institutions and values, that make common life possible.
I would describe that characterization as generally accurate but would substitute the conflict between “private citizens” and “public citizens” as a more theoretically-sound and practical concept. Private citizens are self interested only and follow the logic of the capitalist imperative. Public citizens, on the other hand, find a balance between the necessities of the capitalist imperative and human values and needs. They see themselves not as mere individuals competing in a system of self interest only (like private citizens do) but as both individuals and members of communities.
It is the dominance of the private citizens and the capitalist imperative which has become so extreme that our society has been riven in such a way that we cannot govern ourselves in any competent matter, we radiate hate instead of shared experience and values, and have created an extreme economic and political separation of the elite and the “little people.” lThe lttle people have become sick of it and are doing the only thing they can do, given our political system, “poking the elite in the eye” (Trump, Brexit, etc) in highly ineffective efforts having serious negative consequences for everyone.
The situation is a paradigm of the excesses of self-interest and capitalism. There is no way out of this paradigm without a substitute paradigm. That would be a comprehensive program of balancing private and public interests together with an updating of American institutions and governance principles and how we relate to each other socially.
Nearly everyone has a diagnosis of the various problems of the excesses of self interest but no one has a way out of it. That’s where “An Action Manual” comes in. It is a theoretically-sound vision and practical plan to balance private and public interests and to repair the moral capital which is necessary for any worthwhile society.