Dr. Rose A. Dyson

Toronto – Canada







The Silent Revolution



The rise of authoritarian populism throughout developed nations in the Age of Trump is widely regarded as part of a growing backlash against immigration, economic insecurity, and globalization.  Xenophobic inclinations are increasingly common.  International rules are fraying and the old rules of trade agreements are being dismantled with trends toward protectionism.  At the Munk Center in Toronto, American public policy expert Ronald Ingelhart reminded his audience that for most of human history, survival was of paramount importance.  But in recent decades, in the absence of war, life-threatening diseases and imminent starvation, a better educated generation of young people has grown up more focused on identity, culture, social justice, peace-building and environmental issues.


Meanwhile, the growing income gap has kindled a longing, particularly among older people, for the good old days of less uncertainty and greater prosperity.  Middle class and professional jobs, along with those of the working class, are now threatened by automation. The resulting polarization between those Professor Ingelhart calls “materialists versus post-materialists” has brought the revolt against rapid, unfolding change into sharp political focus. Policy makers, dealing with challenges posed by climate change, find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.  Although the democratic process remains the governing order of the day, the complexity of problems involved is still poorly understood by the electorate.  It seems self-evident that good government, cognizant of the need for income redistribution, structural change, addressing climate change, and transitioning to renewable energy while upholding the principles of peace, order and humanitarianism, are theonly way forward. There are, however, some silver linings. Among G7 nations only the U.S. and Japan have not signed on to the Ocean Plastics Charter, initiated by Canada, which calls for reuse and recycling of plastics.  Corporate leaders now talk of the need for “a circular economy” that reuses any kind of waste.  In Canada, journalist John Ivison calls the federal carbon tax set to take effect on January 1, 2019 “a winner” politically for the governing Liberals.


Scientific evidence indicates we only have years left to turn things around.  The irony is that reaction to the urgent need for change may throw us all back into an era where the scramble for mere survival is, once again, paramount in the human condition.  It remains to be seen whether or not common sense will ultimately win out.





Comments are closed.