From Dream Factory to Dystopian Nightmare.
America was once the world’s dream factory. We turned imagination into reality, from curing polio to landing on the Moon to creating the internet. And we were confident that more wonders lay just over the horizon: clean and infinite energy, a cure for cancer, computers and robots as humanity’s great helpers, and space colonies. (Also, of course, flying cars.) Science fiction, from The Jetsons to Star Trek, would become fact.
But as we moved into the late 20th century, we grew cautious, even cynical, about what the future held and our ability to shape it. Too many of us saw only the threats from rapid change. The year 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Great Downshift in technological progress and economic growth, followed by decades of economic stagnation, downsized dreams, and a popular culture fixated on catastrophe: AI that will take all our jobs if it doesn’t kill us first, nuclear war, climate chaos, plague and the zombie apocalypse. We are now at risk of another half-century of making the same mistakes and pushing a pro-progress future into the realm of impossibility.
As with almost every problem in the Western world, if you want to find the roots of what Pethokoukis calls the Great Downshift there’s but one place you need to look: cherchez le shitlib, mon frere. Sounds like another likely candidate for Mike’s Iron Laws, I believe.