The Unwinding

In The Guardian is something about The Unwinding, by George Packer (seen here). Packer’s thesis is that around 1978 American character changed and the social contract came apart. In a way it seems like a photographic negative of what I might say.

“In Youngstown, Ohio, the steel mills that had been the city’s foundation for a century closed, one after another, with breathtaking speed, taking 50,000 jobs from a small industrial river valley, leaving nothing to replace them. In Cupertino, California, the Apple Computer Company released the first popular personal computer, the Apple II. Across California, voters passed Proposition 13, launching a tax revolt that began the erosion of public funding for what had been the country’s best school system. In Washington, corporations organised themselves into a powerful lobby that spent millions of dollars to defeat the kind of labour and consumer bills they had once accepted as part of the social contract. Newt Gingrich came to Congress as a conservative Republican with the singular ambition to tear it down and build his own and his party’s power on the rubble. On Wall Street, Salomon Brothers pioneered a new financial product called mortgage-backed securities, and then became the first investment bank to go public.” — Decline and fall: how American society unravelled

He makes some good points about what’s wrong, but he only partially understands the causes. It seems to me that starting in the late sixties the left got what it had demanded, and then didn’t much like it.

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