America’s economic boom and civic depression


Here are the paired facts about contemporary America.This economic 850,000 jobs were added in one month; one-third of voters believed that the last presidential election was StolenThe unprecedented blockade in peacetime cost only 3.5% of national output; states as large as Georgia are restricting the independence of election officials. This year’s projected economic growth rate is 7%, compared with China in the mid-2000s; a president who has been impeached twice is almost the most likely to win the next Republican nomination.

The economic and civic prospects of the United States are very different.The war against clichés prevented me from reciting the first sentence A Tale of Two Cities. But Americans can really say “nothing” or “nothing”, savoring the warmth of spring and winter all at once. Their country has reached some kind of dysfunction of wealth.

For a certain materialist, it is unpleasant to determine that the economy drives everything from personal crime to national politics. China’s affluence has not made it a multi-party and diverse Netherlands, which is bad enough. To make matters worse, even the United States ignores the link between economic and political progress.After it surpassed Western Europe and Japan, it could not achieve bloodlessness Power transfer.

The U.S. is now one quarter to one Third richer Than the UK. Which country’s 2024 election makes you uneasy?America has higher Per capita income Even better than Germany. Do you bet which democracy will work in the middle of this century?

Beyond a certain point, the civic return to economic growth seems to be zero or even negative. The leftist theory is that distribution is more important than the size of the original wealth or its growth rate. The excessive gap between the rich and the poor is testing the strength of their citizenship. However, there is a darker explanation: prosperity itself allows voters to freely play politics. Call it entertainment extremism.In the end The end of history and the last manProbably the most cited book that no one has read, Francis Fukuyama also warned.

Whatever the reason, the decoupling of the U.S. economy and citizens can easily be reversed favorably. The story is not that a wealthy country is so politically broken, but that a politically broken country is so rich. Therefore, American declineism has not grasped the point. Weimar, Germany Rome before Caesar was one of the fragile republics compared to the United States. In fact, its production entropy shows that nothing is more disturbing than post-war France.

[From1945to1975Franceenjoyedmanyyearsofmaterialwealthanditisstillhailedas”thegloriousthirtyyears”Duringthisperioditspoliticalrecordsinclude:analmostassassinationofthepresidenta[1945年至1975年间,法国享有多年的物质财富,至今仍被誉为“光荣的三十年”。在此期间,其政治记录包括:一次险些的总统暗杀、一次Algerian War It was a formal civil war, the Suez Canal crisis, the semi-detachment from the West led by the United States, the disintegration of the Fourth Republic, the near-monarchy rule under Charles de Gaulle, and the worst for the quiet May to come alive. Civil strife In memory.A good life in France Big project Is partially banned in France Sadness and pity, A whole generation after the Nazi-France collusion it records.

Depending on taste, the lesson here is comforting or chilling. A country can prosper regardless of politics. In addition to the minimum requirements of the system-tax bureaucracy, clean courts-it is possible to escape almost crazy dysfunction. A large number of people in the United States cannot be reached in their reactionary paranoia. It also has a progressive edge, treating color-blind liberalism as an old idea.

All the way to the paramilitary right and the left with campus training and eloquent theory, this is the portrait of the United States held by France in the middle of the 20th century. However, it, like other republics, subtly isolates its grim public squares from an economy that only does what it does.From this perspective, California is not an independent world, but a country in miniature: a Miserable politics And unbelievable vitality Cohabitation.

I praise it without mentioning this resilience, at least not without doubts. All in all, this must be causing trouble in the future.If flirting crankThe demagogues and nihilists have paid a heavy price, and voters will shrink from it. In fact, the cost of these flirting is so low that only bastards can blame them. As long as extremism is free, at least economically, what is the mild motive of a wrong citizen? Maybe it’s just honor, and the hunch that even a superpower can only rely on luck so far.

janan.ganesh@ft.com

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