The Mentality Revolution. An ever-consuming and ever-moving population — with access to more resources and information than ever before — has also undergone a massive cognitive and emotional transformation. The World Values Survey, for instance, has identified an increasing global consensus regarding the importance of individual freedoms and gender equality, as well as popular intolerance for authoritarianism. Dissatisfaction with political systems and government institutions is also a growing and global phenomenon.
Together, these three revolutions are eroding the barriers that have shielded the powerful from challengers. The More Revolution helps the challengers overwhelm the barriers, the Mobility Revolution helps them circumvent them, and the Mentality Revolution helps them undermine them.
Should we embrace this decline of traditional power? In some ways, yes — it has given us freer societies, more elections and options for voters, new ways of becoming politically active, more investment and trade, and more choices for consumers.
But the decay of power also poses dangers to our wallets, families and lives. It explains why the U.S. economy is at the mercy of self-inflicted crises in Washington. It explains why European nations struggle to act together in the face of crippling economic problems, despite spending decades developing institutions geared toward collective action. It explains why fragile states that have difficulty delivering basic services are proliferating. It explains why the world is paralyzed in the effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Given the end of power as we know it, our traditional checks and balances — originally meant to constrain excessive power — are now threatening to choke what little power is left. As Peter Orszag, Obama’s former budget chief,has observed, “Radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.”
Size no longer means strength. Bureaucracy no longer means control. And titles no longer mean authority. And if the future of power lies in disruption and interference, not management and consolidation, can we expect to ever know stability again?
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