Friday, January 22, 2010

James Fallows on American Decline

James Fallows has published an article in The Atlantic (Jan/Feb 2010) entitled "How America Can Rise Again". As usual, Fallows provides a thorough and considered report on the topic. He points out that concerns about American decline are as American as apple pie, and the tradition goes back to the founding of the republic. He dubs the attitude "declinism". He makes a number of salient points, most interestingly, about China. Fallows has been living and reporting from China for the last couple of years, so his insights bear some serious consideration. The short summary: the rise of China, in many ways inevitable, actually can work to America's interest (ditto India). In fact, in a point that I agree with him more and more, our greatest challenge lies in the failure of our political system. He believes, as I do, that it's not working at all well. Although he doesn't cite it, the health care problem is a prime example. We have a very clear majority of Congress who support some core reforms (badly needed), and yet it's fate languishes because a Cosmo-type centerfold dude has been elected senator from Massachusetts. It also languishes because of individuals like Joe Lieberman, who has made himself into a party of one. Congress remains stuck in a culture of rotten boroughs (corrupting, old, and unrepresentative political system) that would make the 19th century blush. I recommend the article for the thoughtful consideration of the concerns and the not necessarily pessimistic conclusions that Fallows reaches.

No comments: