The Lost Disequilibrium Method For Getting Better

Until 3 or 4 years ago it could be argued that modern societies are adaptive. Even then there were reasons to doubt this proposition. All kinds of impediments to adaptation remained from long ago or had been created over the course of the twentieth century. Among new sets of obstacles to adaptation are the consequences of (a) the apparently unstoppable growth of government, and (b) the tendency of education systems to distance themselves from one of their important functions, that of servicing the economy.

Yet there was hope after the cold war that the great ideological divide had been narrowed if not eliminated. You could reasonably be confident that capitalism was not seriously under threat. Come the next big economic crisis, the institutions would be forced to adjust to the market rather than the other way around.

Now the suspicion is growing that something larger and more disconcerting threatens. I won’t deal with the topic today, only as introduction. The old division of capitalism against socialism could be replaced by something worse; worse because it is more insidious and deceptive, as when someone treacherously passes himself off as a member of the family to which he does not belong.

In the minds of people there now coexist two forms of capitalism -- the one we are familiar with because it was described carefully in the classics, and the new type which, to give it an innocuous name, may be called ‘managed capitalism’ (a name suggesting mild contradiction in terms). Managed Capitalism defends the growth of government. Most astonishingly in the context of today’s economic crises, it has come to regard or portray economic growth -- hence prosperity -- almost entirely as a product of discretionary government monetary, fiscal, industrial, and welfare actions.