Monday, August 08, 2011

Burn Baby, Burn?

Just in case the anemic economy, the debt downgrade, and swan-diving stock markets aren't providing enough material to keep you up at night, Walter Russell Mead throws more fuel on the fire with a post called American Tinderbox:

The conditions for a Category 5 hurricane are all there; it is easy to see a political reaction taking shape in this country that would make the Tea Party movement look like a PTA bake sale. They say that great storms start with trivial causes: a butterfly waves its wings and, when conditions are just right, the wind begins to grow.

The country is so angry now that it would not take much more than the right butterfly in the right place to take us to the next stage of struggle over the Great Society legacy. Just as the urban riots of the 1960s played a role in the hasty adoption of the sixties policy complex, so a rash of small urban confrontations that caught on à la française could dramatically accelerate and intensify the current upheaval in American politics.

If that happens, the result is very unlikely to be a strengthening of the foundations of the Great Society state.

Just as 9/11 was a wakeup call from the false sense of security that America no longer faced foreign threats, we may be on the verge of something similar on the domestic side. Let’s hope that we don’t have to go through something quite as cataclysmic to get the message.