A Return to National Greatness? Not so Fast!

The estimable David Brooks has a rare blend of historical, political, sociological, and psychological savvy which makes his columns in the New York Times so pertinent and enjoyable to read.


Making a reasoned plan for “A Return to National Greatness” in a February 3, 2017 column (http://nyti.ms/2jL7O6B) he describes the role of "myths" which create and animate excellence in leadership in culture and nations. A myth is much like a story. The story gives identity to people, communities, and culture. It encapsules values and morality. It inspires progress and innovation.


He describes a historical America where it once was animated by a myth of democracy, balance of private and public interest, personal dignity, inclusiveness, and more. That myth is weakened and a new one is competing for prominence among Americans – ragefull populism. That myth is much more regressive, intolerant, and emphasizes private over public interest. It characterizes Trumpism, nationalism, counterproductive  populism, and individualism at the expense of a sense of a collective America.


While the "little people" have good reason to be ragefull about an elite class which is primarily responsible for them losing their homes, jobs, pensions, health insurance, and more, the irrational efforts to disrupt American governance and culture is counterproductive. This is not an approach that is going to fix things for them. This is not the American myth which made America great. It is not the myth which will “Make America Great Again", as some espouse. It is almost guaranteed to return America to a belittled nation while pulling down much of the advancements and progressive rationality of other places, especially the European Union (the most progressive, rational culture on earth.)


We need a new myth, as Brooks suggests, but he doesn't have a vision of one or plan to get there. Nor does anyone else in a position to influence the culture.


That's where The Action Manual comes in. It does have a new paradigmatic vision of an advanced America and a practical plan to achieve it. It espouses a new social ethos and set of public values. They include collective interest and fairness, rationality in policymaking (a cultural “brain”), a balance of private and public interest, humanity elements built into the economic system, trustworthiness and professionalism in governance, tolerance and inclusiveness, and a new set of informal institutions called the “shadow government” run by the little people themselves.


The little people, like the ragefull populace now, actually can obtain what they need and want – balance in their lives, meaningfulness, and respect in the political-economic realm. They actually can "pushback" (via the shadow government and more) the dominance of the elite group which has kept them down for so long.



The Action Manual describes a myth that can work. It is the story of how the little people obtain Balance, Meaning and Respect, together with Smartness in governance and social relations.

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