Hacking Change™

The Quest for a New Humanism

Looking around the world from my perspective—that of a business person and social activist who has been working for years to help solve many of the most serious challenges faced by the human race—there is so much to celebrate today. 

As I write these words (in late 2016), global poverty, while still a major problem, has been significantly reduced, with hundreds of millions of people escaping the ranks of the world’s poorest in countries from China and India to Brazil, Argentina, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.  The impact of diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV that have killed millions of people is gradually being reduced through effective international health efforts.  In the decades since the fall of the Iron Curtain, dozens of countries have moved toward free markets and democratic political systems.  New technologies like the Internet and wireless telephony have made information and communication tools available to hundreds of millions of people formerly condemned to lives of isolation and ignorance.  Acceptance by more than 200 countries of the ambitious Paris Accord of 2015 creates the possibility that, for the first time, the peoples of the world will take concerted action to halt the worst effects of global climate changed caused by carbon emissions.  Armed warfare, while still claiming too many victims, has become markedly less common and less destructive in the course of the last seven decades.  And while groups that are marginalized because of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disabilities, or other traits continue to suffer unequal treatment in many parts of the world, acceptance of their right to equality, respect, and a share in power is rapidly growing, offering hope that a world with “justice for all” may one day be a reality, not just an aspiration.

For anyone who takes the long view of human history, then, there are enormous grounds for optimism.  And yet the dominant mood among countless people around the world, including in such centers of wealth and power as the United States, Western Europe, and Japan, is one of anxiety, uncertainty, even fear.  The hopeful spirit of globalism, liberalism, interconnectedness, and spreading democracy seems to be yielding to one of xenophobia, retrenchment, withdrawal, and authoritarianism.  Why is this so?  And what can and should we do about it?

The third law of Newtonian physics states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  Human behavior seems to embody a similar law.  History suggests that any significant movement toward progress, enlightenment, and brotherhood seems to evoke a powerful backlash and a counter-movement.  So the European Renaissance led to the Counter-Reformation and the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; the Age of Enlightenment led to rise of Napoleon and the wars of empire he provoked in the nineteenth century; and in the United States, the abolition of slavery and the passage of constitutional amendments guaranteeing citizenship and equal rights to all gave way to the era of Jim Crow, segregation, and racial repression.

The one hopeful signal that history sends us is that, contrary to Newton, the forward and backward movements in human history do not seem to be precisely equal.  Instead, progress seems to inch ahead, unevenly and unsteadily—“two steps forward, one step back,” in the words of a saying that President Barack Obama, political organizer and activist, likes to quote.  So there is reason to hope that the current mood of pessimism, anxiety, and hopelessness will be merely temporary—a short-term reaction to the dizzying pace of change the human race has been experiencing over the past few generations.

This essay is a response to the challenge posed by this unique moment in time—a moment when humankind seems to be poised between forward and backward impulses.  Building on the ideas I’ve laid out in my essays on Homo Nexus, applied empathy, the networked entrepreneur, and other subjects, I want to suggest some reasons for the current anxiety and some ways we can move forward in a positive hopeful direction.

In a time of incredible changes in the conditions of human existence, driven by complex and powerful technological, ecological, demographic, economic, and social factors, it’s understandable that many people may feel anxious and afraid.  But I contend that our best hope to not merely survive but thrive as a species will come not from any attempts to turn back change but rather from our ability to “hack change”—that is, to be adaptive in highly dynamic, innovative ways (a major step beyond the “adaptive steady state” advocated by the great management thinker Peter Drucker). 

Today’s circumstances, including the remarkable technological innovations now being made available by science, offer the potential for us to create and benefit from a new form of connectivity among humans, leading ultimately to the emergence and flourishing of a new kind of person—Homo Nexus.  Those who understand the revolutionary potential latent in this moment of uncertainty and risk have the choice of how they will shape and direct the new model of human society that is now being born.  If they use their powers of individual, group, business, and governmental action to guide this transformation in a positive direction, they will give our species its best chance to endure and to overcome the threats it faces from adversaries old and new—racism and tribalism, environmental degradation and climate change, rampant inequality and lingering poverty, new pandemics and resource conflicts, and more. 

The banner I’d like to raise is one of a new humanism—a philosophy that embraces the connectivity that technology provides as a tool to enable human beings to freely associate globally, generating prosperity, innovation, and creative fulfillment for all the members of our species through a shared spirit of empathy, freedom, and democracy.


Global Backlash: A Resurgence in Zero-Sum Thinking


As I write, the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the U.S., represents the latest shock that has awakened millions of people around the world to the potency of the current backlash against social, economic, and technological change.  The factors behind Trump’s election appear to be numerous and complex.  But it seems clear that anxiety about change played a central role in motivating millions of swing voters to choose Trump.  The candidate’s promise to “build a wall” to block illegal immigrants from Mexico; his threat to exclude Muslims from the U.S. altogether; his promise to bring back millions of long-vanished jobs in manufacturing and coal mining, in part by repudiating international trade agreements like NAFTA—all under the rubric of his “Make America Great Again” slogan—made it clear that Trump was promising to turn back the clock on economic and social changes that had made some voters feel lost and afraid in a country they no longer recognized.

But the U.S. is not alone in suffering a serious bout of change anxiety.  Other countries around the world have seen the rise of similar revanchist movements.  They differ in their details, of course, as do the factors that produce anxiety in different countries.  But all share common themes: the fear of immigrants and others perceived as “outsiders”; a rejection of globalism; resentment of the transformational impact of technology; and belief in the sacredness of some national or ethnic “essence” that is under assault by dangerous enemies.  As noted in an astute article in The Economist, “nationalist” leaders exploiting these emotions are currently on the rise in many nations.  They include the Brexit advocate Nigel Farage (in the UK), Viktor Orban (Hungary), Marine Le Pen (France), and Geert Wilders (Netherlands), as well as groups like the Law and Justice Party (Poland), the Freedom Party (Austria), and the Sweden Democrats.   Similar movements, taking slightly different forms, can be seen in China, Turkey, Russia, Egypt, and India.[1] 

Many cultural, social, economic, political, and psychological factors drive the success of these differing movements.  In some places, economic worries intensified by the global recession of 2007-2008 probably play a key role.  In other places, racial and religious prejudices are major factors.  In still others—China and Russia, for example—governments seem to be deliberately stoking long-standing social and cultural tensions as a way of encouraging nationalist fervor and rejection of groups advocating pluralism and increased democracy.  And in the U.S. presidential showdown between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, decades of animosity toward the Clinton family among Republicans probably combined with old-fashioned male chauvinism to help propel Trump to victory.

So each of these international movements has its unique context and history.  But one way of defining what they all have in common is to say that they all represent a resurgence in zero-sum thinking.  This is a way of looking at the world that assumes that the volume of resources is fixed, so that all forms of competition produce winners (whose share of resources increase) and losers (whose share decreases).  Any gain on one side is always offset by a loss elsewhere; there is no such thing as a “win-win” scenario.  Those who, consciously or unconsciously, accept zero-sum thinking as their baseline for understanding the world regard competition in a much harsher light than others.  No loss is a merely relative loss (for example, an increase in income that is a little smaller than someone else’s increase).  Any dollar that ends up in someone else’s pocket must, by definition, have come from my pocket.  This way of viewing the world quickly leads to a conception of society as, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, “the war of all against all.”

It’s easy to see how zero-sum thinking underlay the intensity of the hostility that arose in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, and that tends to underlie all the conflicts arising in the wake of the current global movement toward nationalism and anti-change backlash.  If African-Americans, or Mexican immigrants, or Muslim refugees, or, for that matter, gay people or women, are now demanding a share of America’s resources, where will that share come from?  Zero-sum thinking says it must come from someone else—which helps to explain why white males voted so heavily for Trump.  Many viewed themselves as members of beleaguered tribe, and saw Trump as the candidate who promised to help them win.

Zero-sum thinking is a simplistic and ultimately inaccurate way of viewing the world.  Some forms of competition are indeed zero-sum in nature; in a poker game, one person’s winnings have to come from someone else’s pocket.  But in a national or global context, countless economic processes interconnect in ways that generate new resources, wealth, and income for multiple participants, not just for one side in a transaction.  When an entrepreneur invents a new product, many people and groups stand to be winners—the customers who buy and enjoy the product, the retailers who market it, the factory workers who manufacture it, the miners and others who gather the natural resources from which the parts are made, the transportation companies that ship the product around the world, and of course the entrepreneur himself.  More broadly, as economies grow, the size of the pie increases, creating more resources for people to share—which explains how neighborhoods, towns, countries, and the entire planet can, over time, become more prosperous. 

In real-world economics, the emergence of “winners” doesn’t require the emergence of “losers.”  When the game is played correctly, there’s no reason why everybody can’t win.

Still, zero-sum thinking has a strong appeal to our instincts, especially in a time of accelerated change when people may feel anxious and uncertain.  No wonder some political leaders exploit zero-sum thinking and the tribalism it encourages as a way of attracting followers and gaining power.

The problem is that, because zero-sum thinking is, at bottom, fallacious, it offers no long-term solution to the economic worries of individual citizens or of an entire nation.  We can’t afford to let our world slide backward into zero-sum thinking.  The challenges we face as citizens of the world and members of the human species are too serious for that.


Applied Empathy—The Essential Solution


Of course, it would be very desirable for citizens of the world to come to realize the weakness of zero-sum thinking and simply conclude that a withdrawal from global engagement into tribalism, nationalist isolation—and perhaps authoritarianism or even tyranny—would be foolish.  But relatively few people are motivated, as voters, by appeals to economic theory.  Instead, we need to develop and share an alternative vision of human life that is more appealing than the dystopian vision of zero-sum, “all against all” competition.

The vision I offer is that of Homo Nexus.  In another essay in this series, I summarize it like this:


Homo Nexus is a person located within a thick web of relationships—personal, economic, informational, social, intellectual—who tends and maintains these relationships, building trust, reciprocating aid, looking for opportunities to help others succeed.  Not out of some abstracted, saintly sense of altruism, but because Homo nexus is highly aware that the success of others creates new opportunities that change his or her own world for the better. 


I add that this vision of Homo Nexus represents a contemporary version of what Adam Smith, the founder of modern capitalism, described as “self-interest, properly understood”—the motivating force supposed to be at a core of all economic activity in a free-market society.  The entrepreneur, the business owner, the manager, the working hand—all are driven by “self-interest, properly understood.”   Because all are members of a society made up of millions of people engaged in tightly interwoven, mutually-beneficial activities, they all understand that true “self-interest” requires understanding and respect for the interests of others.  (Note, again, the divergence from the simplistic logic of zero-sum thinking.)  The seller of goods and services knows he must offer a product that brings benefit at a fair price to his customers; the buyer knows she must offer a reasonable sum in exchange for the goods she buys; the business manager knows she must pay a fair wage to attract skilled and motivated workers; the employee knows he must give a good day’s work in return for his salary.  All the members of a wisely-run capitalist society recognize the need to understand and honor the interests of others.  In choosing to serve one another’s needs, they also benefit themselves, and in the long run, all grow together in wealth and happiness.

The concept of Homo Nexus updates Adam Smith’s understanding to a twenty-first century context.  Today we live in a world in which the web of relationships is broader, thicker, and deeper than ever.  In a world of global trade and communication, your customers, suppliers, clients, or employees may be across the street or across the planet; the health of communities, resource pools, and economies in remote nations may have a profound impact on your plans for tomorrow; and the next great innovative business idea or technological breakthrough that could transform your enterprise may arise without warning in any city or village on earth.

For this reason, as I’ve argued elsewhere:


Empathy is an essential element, not a peripheral element, of any serious agenda for world change.  Success in solving the problems that challenge humankind in today’s world will increasingly demand an empathic orientation from people in every field of endeavor.  Doctors without Borders and Engineers with Borders represent a good start.  But we also need Teachers without Borders, Bankers without Borders, Lawyers and Scientists, Artists and Programmers without Borders—since borders are becoming more and more irrelevant, and more and more destructive, as our world and our species evolve.


In the twenty-first century, empathetic business leaders, professionals, and social activists not only understand the perspectives, values, and interests of those around them in the world; they also act upon that understanding, devising solutions that serve the needs of people everywhere.  Thus, they help to create a contemporary version of Adam Smith’s enlightened capitalism in which participants play positive, constructive, mutually beneficial roles because they understand that this is best way to serve their own “self-interest, properly understood.”  I refer to this acting-out of empathetic understanding as applied empathy.

Millions of people around the world today are already living the life of Homo nexus.  (I profile a few of them in my essay on the networked entrepreneur.)  Many more are choosing to embrace this way of life every day.  This is perhaps the most hopeful sign of all, since the spread of Homo nexus to every corner of the world represents our best chance of devising, sharing, implementing, and bringing to scale solutions to the biggest challenges our species faces, from global climate change to income inequality.

The backlash against globalism, the return of nationalism, and the resurgence in zero-sum thinking are disturbing in part because they represent deliberate rejections of the way of Homo nexus and of the ethic of applied empathy.  Rather than striving to understand, care about, and respond to the needs and interests of people around the world, the new nationalists insist that their concerns stop at the border—and that, if anything, those on the other side of the invisible line are enemies to be defeated or exploited rather than fellow human beings to be served for mutual benefit.  It’s a selfish perspective, of course—but also, in the long run, a hopelessly self-defeating one.  A planet of border walls, immigration bans, punitive tariffs, and trade wars will be a far poorer one than one in which goods, services, people, and ideas flow freely in cross-fertilizing streams of resources.  A war of “all against all” yields, in the end, no real winners.


Hacking Change: How Technology Can Empower Global Empathy


I’ve suggested that one of the reasons the vision of Homo nexus is so important today is the way technology has transformed our civilization.  In the 18th century world of Adam Smith, where oceans, mountain ranges, and sheer distance constituted daunting barriers to people, products, and ideas, it was possible for some communities, even some nations, to build more-or-less successful economies and societies in conditions of near-isolation.  No more.  Communication walls have collapsed under the impact of a series of transformational technologies, from the telegraph and telephone to radio, television, and now the Internet.  Transportation barriers have fallen thanks to the railroad, the steamship, and the jet airplane.  And with the spread and improvement of digital technologies such as 3D printing, other near-miraculous feats of interconnection are becoming possible—for example, the virtually instantaneous replication of a newly-designed product in a thousand locations all over the planet simply through transmission of its digital specifications via the cloud. 

Under these conditions, no one who wants to be successfully engaged with the world can expect to withdraw inside a local or even national bubble.  We have no choice except to network with potential friends, colleagues, rivals, and allies wherever they may be in the world.

Thankfully, the same technological breakthroughs that demand the emergence of Homo Nexus could also help make it possible.  I use the conditional, because what follows is my own personal call to action.  There will have to be bedrock principles, coordinated governance, community reflection and assembly, and much social and political discourse and activity to ensure what follows.  It would be naïve to assume that technology will simply resolve all the major challenges, algorithmically or otherwise.  This said, the new digital tools of today, and still more those of the years to come, have the potential to make applied empathy dramatically easier to practice than ever before.  As more and more people become part of a spreading global infrastructure of digital communication and interconnected human intelligence, we have the opportunity to make empathetic understanding increasingly natural and obvious—and to make the barriers that tribalists seek to reinforce and hide behind seem increasingly bizarre and irrelevant.

Consider just a few examples of the way new technologies are beginning to interconnect experiences, ideas, and feelings across borders and boundaries, making empathy on a global scale easier to imagine than ever before:


  • Social media networks are creating amazing opportunities for people to go deep dives into the lives and perceptions of others.  Educators who seek to teach the art of empathy are using social media tools in precisely this way.  USC professor Sabba Quidwai offers this example: “Each day, Snapchat features a different city; and as I watch the snaps that people are posting, I am constantly reminded of my own biases, my own stereotypes, and my own lack of knowledge about many people and places. . . . Imagine asking students to watch the Snapchat story featuring the city of the day and respond to the visible thinking routine, ‘I used to think . . .  But now I think . . .’  Consider the discussions that could take place as we come to a self-realization about the depth of people around the world and what it means to be a global citizen. That moment of self-assessment, where you realize what you used to think and what you now have learned, truly leaves you feeling more cautious about the biases you develop towards people and places with which you are not familiar.”[2]
  • Virtual reality (VR) devices will allow individuals to immerse themselves in the lifestyles of other people, experiencing unfamiliar places, cultures, and societies with a vividness and concreteness surpassing what even a fine novel or brilliant motion picture can provide.  While VR is still in its infancy, some of its power is already available: for example, Google’s Pioneer Expeditions project, launched in 2016, has provided thousands of schoolteachers with kits providing everything needed to take an entire class on a “virtual trip” to a distant world destination.[3]
  • R70i Exoskeleton Aging Suit, an experimental project by Applied Minds, LLC, is a 40-pound garment that lets a young person experience many of the physical attributes of aging.  Arm and leg attachments limit joint movement in a way that mimics the impact of arthritis; headphones simulate tinnitus (ringing in the ears); goggles alter vision the way cataracts might.  The total package affects body and mind in an amazing way, almost as if you’re inhabiting a different body.  A number of participants responded to the experience by immediately vowing to be kinder and more understanding toward old people in the future.[4]


Hostility and hatred between national, ethnic, and religious groups becomes much more difficult to sustain when millions of people have walked in the shoes of someone from a different background.  Global communication and travel have already created powerful opportunities for people to meet, know, care about, and learn from people they once considered alien, even hostile.  Now digital technologies are on the verge of intensifying such opportunities and making them more widely available than ever.

Of course, as history and current world events demonstrate, all tools are subject to misuse.  My call to action is to develop our technological capabilities in a way that will bring us the kind of world in which we want to live.   The same social media networks that helped enable the Arab Spring uprisings and popular movements like the Orange Revolution in Ukraine can also be used to spread disinformation, false rumors, and messages of bigotry and hatred.  We’re just beginning to investigate the role played by Facebook and other social media platforms in the 2016 presidential election, but it seems clear that “fake news” generated by for-profit propaganda factories in Eastern Europe and elsewhere helped to inflame the partisan animosities of both left and right—particularly through the dissemination of fabricated stories trashing the integrity of Hillary Clinton and elevating the heroic stature of Donald Trump. This episode illustrates the damage that can be done when technology is used irresponsibly, to heighten distrust and hostility rather than to inspire empathy.

Leaders at Facebook and elsewhere are now grappling with the question of how to discourage destructive uses of the platform while encouraging positive applications.  Legal scholars, media experts, political scientists, sociologists, and software developers are all involved in this process.  It’s likely that, in the years to come, a series of institutional responses will evolve, each more sophisticated and effective than the last.  It’s not clear what the “perfect” solution will be, if there is one. 

Some say we need to move backward toward an “old media” model in which news is curated by trustworthy experts.  I doubt this is the answer we seek.  As techno guru Tim O’Reilly puts it, “the answer is not for Facebook to put journalists to work weeding out the good from the bad.  It is to understand, in the same way that they’ve so successfully divined the features that lead to higher engagement, how to build algorithms that take into account ‘truth’ as well as popularity.”[5] 

In other words, the solution to the misuse of technology is to develop better technology and governance that is more resistant to misuse—a major challenge that demands serious attention from a wide array of concerned citizens, not just technology experts.  Otherwise we run the risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater—of abandoning the enormous potential benefits of new technology because of our fears of the harm it can do in malevolent hands.


Revitalizing Democracy for the Twenty-First Century


A final crucial issue highlighted by the 2016 election is the enormous gap between the social changes being driven by new technologies and the ability of our political system to respond to those changes.

The U.S. Constitution, as it was drafted by the founders in the late 18th century and as it has evolved, through amendments and shifting practice, in the 19th and 20th centuries, is a remarkable system for governing a large, diverse, contentious population.  It has experienced serious times of crisis, especially with the outbreak of Civil War in the 1860s.  On the whole, it has maintained a track record of impressive success through a dramatic series of social, economic, and political changes, helping the U.S. achieve its stature as both the world’s greatest economic power and as its leading advocate for human freedom, equality, and justice.

Today, however, the U.S. Constitution may be in crisis as never before.  The imperfect, idiosyncratic system that the founders devised, partly in order to paper over deep internal divisions regarding issues like slavery, has become increasingly dysfunctional.  The symptoms are numerous and alarming:


  • Gridlock in the U.S. Congress, leading to historically high reliance on the filibuster to thwart the will of the majority and prevent the passage of essential legislation.
  • Use of gerrymandering to create legislative districts that are overwhelmingly single-party dominated, making turnover almost impossible—despite record levels of popular dissatisfaction with the legislative results.
  • A rigid two-party system marked by widespread voter apathy and unhappiness with both major candidates for president—all within a system that makes it virtually impossible for a third party to achieve national viability.
  • A distorted distribution of power, reflected both in the system of representation in Congress and in the allocation of seats in the electoral college, that has the effect of giving excessive influence to low-population, rural, older, and less-diverse states and localities at the expense of cities that are more populous, younger, and more diverse.
  • Steady erosion of traditional political norms of collegiality, bipartisanship, and mutual respect that once made governing in the national interest possible.
  • Increasingly numerous episodes of near-crisis driven by inflexible partisanship, such as threats to default on valid national debts and refusals to fill vacancies on federal courts—including even a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.


It shouldn’t be surprising that the system of government that has served our country well is now showing signs of breaking down.  Although we tend to treat the constitution as a near-sacred creation of human beings with semi-divine status, scholar Robert A. Dahl is closer to the mark when he describes it as "a document produced more than two centuries ago by a group of fifty-five mortal men, actually signed by only thirty-nine, and adopted in only thirteen states."[6]  For all their wisdom, James Madison and the other framers could never have anticipated the incredible changes the nation has experienced in the generations since they did their work.  The U.S. is now a vast industrialized nation of more than 300 million people drawn from around the world, engaged in enormous global commerce and maintaining a powerful political and military empire armed with weapons capable of destroying humankind in a matter of minutes.  Is it any wonder that a system of governance devised to serve a small population dominated by farmers and scattered among towns and villages along the east coast of North America may now need to be reconsidered and revised?

It’s time to apply the American genius for “hacking change” to our political system as well.  Some of the changes I’d like to see us consider are well within the realm of possibility; others, perhaps, are more far-fetched.  But all, I think, are worthy of a vigorous, thoughtful public debate.  They include ideas like eliminating the electoral college (which has thwarted the will of the people in two of the last five presidential elections), replacing it with a simple reliance on the national popular vote; converting our presidential/congressional governance model with a hybrid parliamentary system that provides proportional representation to multiple parties based on voter preferences; using contemporary technology to create digital national town halls, encouraging citizens from around the country to participate in live debates about crucial issues, perhaps using some of the techniques for information-sharing and education that have been developed under the rubric of “deliberate democracy”; using rigorously designed algorithms based on the latest insights of data science to redraw the district maps that designate seats in Congress as well state legislatures so that our legislative bodies reflect more accurately the desires of the voters; and using ideas from game theory to improve systems of decision-making in fields like criminal justice, taxation, and regulation so that more just outcomes can be achieved with a minimum of coercion by government.[7]

Any idea for hacking change in regard to our political system will inevitably be controversial.  By definition, change in the system will lead to a shift in power from one group to another—and history shows that those who stand to lose power never accept such change lightly.

This fact highlights another urgent need if we are to reinvigorate our democracy for the enormous challenges we face.  We also have a need for a national consensus on the values that underlie our democracy and our commitment to those values.

In this connection, it’s interesting to consider an example from abroad.  In today’s German republic, the concept of Streitbare Demokratie is a bedrock principle of governance.  This idea, which is usually translated as “militant democracy,” implies that the German government, parliament, and judiciary have both the power and the duty to defend the freiheitlich-democratische Grundornung (liberal democratic order) against those who want to damage it.  This means that government leaders are bound to push back even when the popular will seems to support the creation of a totalitarian or autocratic regime.  It’s an idea that obviously draws its inspiration from the tragic history of twentieth-century Germany.  If the concept of militant democracy had been widely understood and accepted at the time, the Enabling Act of 1933, which paved the way for Hitler’s dictatorship and all the terrible consequences that flowed from it, might never have passed.  

In the U.S., we’ve never experienced the horror of a regime like Hitler’s—not yet.  But we shouldn’t take the risk lightly.  The people of the United States need to agree upon a similar bedrock principle that defines the core elements of our democratic political system and establishes a clear duty to defend them against threats of any kind.  It’s true that the oath of office sworn by U.S. presidents, military officers, and others in authority includes a promise to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  But there’s all too much evidence that relatively few Americans truly understand the spirit of the constitution and the kinds of behaviors required to defend it, as reflected in public polls that show distressingly low levels of support for the basic freedoms that citizens have traditionally taken for granted.[8]

The spirit of “militant democracy” should be a key part of the new humanism we need to adopt to reinvigorate our nation for the challenges of the twenty-first century—and to make the U.S. once again the world’s leading model of freedom and progress.




Source Notes



[1] “League of Nationalists,” The Economist, November 19, 2016. 

[2] “Using Snapchat to Develop Empathy in a Technology-Drive World,” by Beth Holland, Education Week, February 5, 2016, http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/edtechresearcher/2016/02/using_snapchat_to_develop_empathy_in_a_technology-driven_world.html.

[3] “Overhauling How We Teach Our Kids in a World of Accelerating Change,” by Peter Diamandis, http://singularityhub.com/2016/11/14/overhauling-how-we-teach-our-kids-in-a-world-of-accelerating-change/?utm_source=Singularity+Hub+Newsletter&utm_campaign=39d71ff518-Hub_Daily_Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f0cf60cdae-39d71ff518-57971189. 

[4] “Can technology build empathy?  If so, can it lead to action?” by Caitlin Kossmann, Science & Media, September 1, 2016, http://www.sciencemediasummit.org/blog/can-technology-build-empathy-if-so-can-it-lead-to-action.

[5] “Media in the Age of Algorithms” by Tim O’Reilly, https://medium.com/@timoreilly/media-in-the-age-of-algorithms-63e80b9b0a73#.bhrgv1qxk.

[6] How Democratic Is the American Constitution? by Robert A. Dahl (New Haven: Yale UP, 2008).   

[7] See, for example, “What is deliberative democracy?” Center for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, http://deldem.weblogs.anu.edu.au/2012/02/15/what-is-deliberative-democracy/; and “Natural police,” by Suzanne Sadedin, https://aeon.co/essays/game-theory-s-cure-for-corruption-make-us-all-cops.

[8] See, for example, http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/15/us/poll-finds-only-33-can-identify-bill-of-rights.html; https://www.rt.com/usa/235567-republican-survey-christianity-national-religion/; http://www.constitution.org/col/half4constitution.htm.

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