Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Futuristic Blues’

Full piece here.

Mead’s theory, in part, posits that liberalism 4.0 needs to become 5.0 and start to creatively solve the problems we’re faced with, including globalization, the decline of manufacturing and industry, and the rise of technology.  The ‘blue’ model is behind the times:

‘This view holds that the death of industrial society means the death of the mass middle class.’


‘The economy is making us more unequal, but a wise elite can mitigate the harm—if only we are willing to live under their tutelage. That is what liberalism 4.0 offers today; from an ideology of populism and reform it has mutated into a defense of the status quo.’

This would include Obama:

‘Those who think that the blue model needs to be preserved and extended into the future (including, I think, our current president and most of his top allies and advisors), tend to think that under those conditions we will both need and be able to afford an ever-more active redistributive state.’

Mead places Obama in the Anglo-American liberal tradition, a tradition which:

‘…does not seek state ownership of the means of production and it does not seek to crush freedom of expression. It assumes that the private economy and the creative power of gifted individuals will remain the wellsprings of innovation and prosperity.’

So, Obama’s liberalism may stop short of Marxism, and totalitarianism.  That’s hardly ringing praise. For Mead, there’s a longer thread back to the Magna Carta.  Obama’s continuing in the Anglo-American progressive vein, from Woodrow Wilson to the New Deal Democrats, to LBJ’s Great Society folks, and the 60’s generation onward.  The problem, especially with the 60’s generation, is that they now control many of our institutions, and are resistant to the changes Mead thinks are necessary.  In fact, both political parties may be behind the times.

On Mead’s thinking, libertarians who point out the lessons of Hayek’s ‘The Road to Serfdom‘, and Straussian conservatives who follow Strauss‘ end run around nihilism/moral relativism, and the three crises of modernity, may not be necessary.  We’ve not arrived at these particular problems of Continental Europe.

In the meantime, it’s not exactly comforting to know that small business owners, large business owners, political opponents and principled objectors to Obama’s statism are asked to either join Obama, tithe, or are called-out in the community organizing style, to be publicly shamed and pushed aside by the political coalitions he must develop and often exploit to maintain power.

It means a lot for political and economic liberty.

Addition:  I should add that I think Anglo-American liberalism has its own tradition, but there are many other continental strains of thought under the modern liberal tent, as well as in that tradition.

Related On This Site:  Where is Mead coming from?: Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead

 Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.

Francis Fukuyama And Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘None Of The Above’

Some thoughts on Fukuyama and Leo Strauss: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Charles Fried and Randy Barnett among others, testify as to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Nearly 3 hrs, but likely worth your time.  You can skip to the parts you’d like)

Originalism vs the ‘living constitution?” George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government’A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

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