The Rate of Change

But the digital revolution suddenly increased the rate and scale of change in almost everyone’s lives.
- Edward Mendelson, In the Depths of the Digital Age, New York Review of Books, June23, 2016

Jeff Greenfield, a political columnist who was a campaign aide to Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, called it ludicrous to liken the current political atmosphere to that election. But Mr. Trump, he said, was tapping into a sense of wariness that for many voters has begun to override the more benign realities of 2016.

“The country seems to be in a pretty unhappy mood, so even if law and order may not be the direct answer, there’s a sense of conflation,” Mr. Greenfield said. “The loss of jobs, the sense of cultural unease or upheaval, the sense that things are falling apart in some way.”
- Michael Barbaro and Alexander Burns, It’s Donald Trump’s Convention. But the Inspiration? Nixon., NYT, July 18, 2016

The national political reactions are playing out against a backdrop of global change in which terrorism is only one element.

“The world has been changing and we see that manifested in many ways, with new power centers, the power of the individual and the corporation, the disenfranchised finding a new voice and a sense that the governing infrastructure is no longer fit for purpose in today’s world,” said Xenia Wickett of Chatham House, a London foreign-policy research institution.

Institutions, she said, are struggling to deal with new challenges from Islam, inequality, terrorism and globalization. “We’re trying to manage that change and people don’t like change,” she said.

- Steven Erlanger, String of Attacks in Europe Fuels a Summer of Anxiety, NYT, July 25, 2016

According to Thomas Friedman, America's 2016 election is a contest between people (supporters of Trump and Sanders) who want a president "who will turn off... the violent winds of change that are now buffeting every family — in their workplace, where machines are threatening white-collar and blue-collar jobs; in their neighborhoods, where so many more immigrants of different religions, races and cultures are moving in; and globally, where super-empowered angry people are now killing innocents with disturbing regularity" and those who "understand that... a 21st-century party needs to build its platform in response to the accelerations in technology, globalization and climate change, which are the forces transforming the workplace, geopolitics and the very planet." The instinct of the latter, he says, "is to embrace the change in the pace of change...." The notion that Trump and Sanders supporters want to stop change is overly simple, but it is true they are unhappy with some aspects of the way the world has changed. Those who have lost their jobs or otherwise suffered from recent changes do not want to stop change so much as see changes that will improve their situation. In any case, it is interesting that a major commentator sees both sides focused on dealing with the same fundamental issue: the rapid change disrupting modern society, for better or worse.
(Thomas Friedman, Web People vs. Wall People, NYT, July 27, 2016)

Asked if the Geneva Conventions are out of date, Trump asserts that everything is out of date:

QUESTION: Do you think the Geneva Conventions are out of date?

TRUMP: I think everything’s is out of date. We have a whole new world.

- Steve Benin, Trump sees Geneva Conventions as ‘out of date’, MSNBC, July 27, 2016

Change in early 20th century Britain:

The solid core of agreed religious belief was gone. The Bible had lost its grip on Englishmen. People were groping for a substitute. ...
But perhaps the most influential ideological works were William James's Varieties of Religious Experience, appearing in 1902, and Sir James Frazer's eleven-volume Golden Bough, which was published intermittently, in revised editions, throughout the decade. Guided by James and Frazer, the children of nineteenth-century Christian evangelism moved towards a broadening tolerance of all creeds - which is to say, a vulnerability to radical speakers whose dogma provided hard, specific, simple answers to all complex questions.
That vulnerability was enhanced by a growing concept of a mechanistic universe - the obverse of traditional faith in the soul - which was an unanticipated by-product of the era's scientific and technological triumphs. Edwardians were bombarded by news of discoveries: glands, hormones, vitamins, genes, Einstein's E=mc2, Pavlovian conditioned reflexes, Rontegen's X rays, Madame Curie's radium, and the subconscious as revealed by Freud, Adler, and Jung. ... Because of Guglielmo Marconi, the King talked to President Roosevelt in 1903 by wireless. That same year two Americans flew the first heavier-than-air machine, and Eric S. Porter produced the first feature-length film, The Great Train Robbery. ... In 1904 heels clicked all over Germany when the North German Lloyd steamer Kaiser Wilhelm II set a new transatlantic record of five days, eleven hours. ...
But the cumulative effect of all this change, which should have broadened the human vision, gave men a sense of confinement and helplessness. There were new powers at large, many of them incomprehensible, none in accord with the tidy, distinct images of reality they had been taught as children. Apparently there were no limits to the ways in which the world could be transformed. ... The long peace of domestic law and order was shattered, the framework of Edwardian society shaken. ...
Finally, the balance between the sexes, the linchpin of the English home, came under ferocious attack. The attackers were idealistic wives. Their issue was the vote. Fewer than a third of all Edwardian Britons were entitled to go to the polls. Voters had to be heads of households, lodgers unencumbered by debts, owners of property, or educated. And they had to be male.
- William Manchester, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, pp. 306-307

In conclusion, let me point out that we are living in a revolutionary period. All our established institutions are in a state of flux and in these circumstances both fallibility and reflexivity are operating at full force.
- George Soros, Remarks delivered at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, January 25, 2018

He [Nobel prize winning economist Paul Romer] said he was attracted to growth theory because he was intrigued by the acceleration of innovation that is a hallmark of the modern era.
- Binyamin Appelbaum, 2018 Nobel in Economics Is Awarded to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, NYT, Oct. 8, 2018

“We’ve entered an entirely new way of buying goods and services, but our infrastructure is only adapting incrementally,” Ms. Kaufman said. “We need to completely rethink how we use our streets if we want to maintain our current shopping and delivery habits.”
- Matthew Haag and Winnie Hu, 1.5 Million Packages a Day: The Internet Brings Chaos to N.Y. Streets, NYT, Oct. 27, 2019, Updated Oct. 28, 2019

Everyone knows that we live in a time of constant acceleration, of vertiginous change, of transformation or looming disaster everywhere you look. ...
But what if the feeling of acceleration is an illusion, conjured by our expectations of perpetual progress and exaggerated by the distorting filter of the internet?
- Ross Douthat, The Age of Decadence, NYT, Feb. 7, 2020

The pace of technological change is outstripping the average person’s ability to adapt.
- Thomas L. Friedman, Another Age of Discovery, NYT, June 22, 2016

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