Inside America: The Rise and Fall of An Empire

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Some commentators saw the Sixties as a new American Civil War. Not unlike the old one between the North and South during the 1860's. Yet, it was a cultural civil war with almost no bloodshed fought in the media, the schools, and the culture instead of on the battlefields like the earlier civil war which had killed over half a million Americans. Many cross-currents during the Sixties and Seventies clashed with each other as American society became more fragmented and polarized from multiple directions while business and government became more and more centralized. Life became more speeded up as consumer-led activity became more and more socially dominant and new technologies created shorter and shorter production cycles.

By the turn of the century, all these trends finally began to go global. America became just another arena for global production and consumption even as it set new global trends for the rest of the world. America was caught in a new bind. It had always had a strong Puritan work ethic which favored hard work and frugal living. Which now had given way to constant consumption and debt accumulation. This tension was now creating new problems as many Americans from all walks of life became poorer and less educated. While a minority of Americans became even richer and more isolated from the rest of America.

Many cultural creatives began to see that the birth of three kinds of America could actually be leading to the birth of three new kinds of worlds on Earth. The struggle between traditional and modern Americans before the Sixties was now playing out globally as traditional societies became sucked into the modern consumption machine created by the American and foreign Multinational Corporations. The first serious echo of this struggle was broadcast live on CNN on September 11th, 2001.

Yet, in 1999, in Seattle many Cultural Creatives joined the protest against global big business for the first time. For many Americans, all American institutions were now suspect, but from different cultural angles. The attack on America from traditionals coming from other parts of the planet helped unite all Americans temporarily, but also helped to high-light many of the same tensions within America itself. Those between moderns and traditionals. And those between moderns and cultural creatives.

Many Americans were also now living longer. In traditional and early modern societies most people lived until age sixty-five if not less. Adulthood began at age eighteen, if not earlier. Now many Americans were living until age seventy-five if not longer. This was creating new demographic shifts especially as less Americans were born in general. For many Americans, adulthood now did not really begin until age thirty and a second adulthood often did not start until age forty-five. Many Americans now had greater life choices with more time to make them. This was all very new and confusing.

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