This is an excellent article. I might paint a different future in detail, but not particularly in substance. That is, until I get to the point of trying to figure how we avert such a future.
The essence of the American experiment was never democracy per se. Rather it was in the division of power. So the elites were divided in powers they held. We see this has emerged as a sign of hope across the world. When all power is centered on one person things go disastrously bad. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. No way out of that, except the death of the person.
I see the American experiment not only distributing government power among agencies of the federal government, but also the states, and then also companies, and finally to some degree individuals. If Law fails, the considered distribution of power fails. Geo. Washington said it well in his Farewell address:
"The Constitution of Government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy has a just claim to your confidence and your support."
The distribution of power cannot be a whim, it must be constructed. Both West and East have advanced by developing more stable governments by various ways of intelligently distributing power among their elites.
Washington warned explicitly, as the main theme of his farewell address, that such a system has one flaw that it cannot survive. Lies and deceit that seek to divide groups of people led by elites that want more power than proper law (and habit -- norms) allow.
To quote the beginning of his address:
"Your welfare urges me to offer the result of much reflection which appear to me all-important.
From different quarters many artifices will be employed to weaken your minds, covertly and insidiously directed."
We must not vote for or install elites who lie divisively. Give them a little power, and they will readily find this a method of achieving more. Washington is clear on this. It is inescapable.
If we do allow divisive liars to have power, George Washington promises, again in his own words:
"Sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty."
Seen through this vision, which has in fact been adopted in many countries both West and East, there is a way to save us, if we simply follow the one rule that Washington set out when we can effect who has power, whether in government, business, Religion, or NGO.
Here is a full summary of his Farewell Address, in Geo. Washington's own words.
Frank, Thanks for a great article which is a very possible future.
We must understand our individual obligations on how to grow our social capital, and not revert back to the dark ages.
There are times when everyone has a say in who has some power, and when you do, never ever admit a person who is a divisive liar no matter what the excuse.