Slouching Towards Utopia

Book-in-progress (to-come Sept'2022?) by Brad DeLong. What I call the “long twentieth century” started with the watershed-boundary crossing events of around 1870—the triple emergence of globalization, the industrial research lab, and the modern corporation—which ushered in changes that began to pull the world out of the dire poverty that had been humanity’s lot for the previous ten thousand years. What I call the “long twentieth century” ended in 2010, with the world’s leading economic edge, the countries of the North Atlantic, still reeling from the Great Recession that had begun in 2008, and thereafter unable to resume economic growth at anything near the average pace that had been the rule since 1870. The years following 2010 were to bring large system-destabilizing waves of political and cultural anger from masses of citizens, all upset in different ways and for different reasons at the failure of the system of the twentieth century to work for them as they thought that it should. The end of American Exceptionalism—where the U.S. was near-universally regarded as an important model for at least some degree of emulation—an apparently permanent productivity growth-rate downshift; the failure of global north institutions to adequately deal with the Great Recession that started in 2008, the COVID-19 plague, or global warming; the rise across the globe of political movements that are called (politely) fascist-adjacent, neofascist, or (impolitely) fascist: all these told us that the Grand Narrative of the long 20th century could no longer be made to fit. It was a new set of stories, needing to be made comprehensible by a new Grand Narrative or Narratives. What it or they are we cannot yet know.

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