Archive Nota Bene Steven Wedgeworth The Natural Family

A Future for the American Family

Michael Lotus offers some optimistic predictions about the social upheaval currently underway in America:

Despite many current troubles the future will be bright for the United States. We are not in a period of decline, but a period of transformation. America has already once made a change on the scale what is happening now. That was when it transformed itself from the rural and agrarian society of the founding era — which James Bennett and I call America 1.0 — to the urban and industrial society that peaked in the mid-20th century — which we call America 2.0. That earlier transition, from roughly 1860 to 1920, was more painful than most people think. Yet the transformed, industrial America became the wonder of the world.

The American political and economic regime now in crisis was built for the world of America 2.0. Today, we are in the midst of a dramatic transition to a new technological and political configuration — which we call America 3.0. Institutions that once looked permanent are cracking at the foundations. Technology will drive the transition, and the shape of future technology can be known at most in broad outline.

As the 2.0 state fails, we are seeing increasing awareness, urgency, and activism in response to a deepening crisis. The emerging America 3.0 will reverse several key characteristics of the 2.0 state: decentralization versus centralization; diversity and voluntarism rather than compulsion and uniformity; emergent solutions from markets and voluntary networks rather than top-down, elite-driven commands. Strong opposition to the rise of America 3.0 is inevitable, including heavy-handed, abusive, and authoritarian attempts to prop up the existing order.

But this “doubling down” approach is doomed. It is incompatible with both the emerging technology and the underlying cultural framework that will predominate in America 3.0. It is imperative that conservatives and libertarians begin formulating policies and reforms to adapt our government institutions to these changes, including an orderly dismantling of the legacy state we inherited from industrial era America. We cannot merely oppose the destructive rear-guard actions of the inaptly named “progressives.” We need to aggressively and creatively develop and promote policy initiatives of our own. An awareness of the cultural foundations of America, and the fact that we have made one major transition already, should help to develop policies which will work for us in the future.

This is part of Mrs Lotus and Bennett’s argument in their book America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity- Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come. Their optimism is not so obvious, but perhaps their perspective will offer some helpful new considerations for community choices.

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the Rector of Christ Church Anglican in South Bend, Indiana. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a founding member of the Davenant Institute.