Bernie (Sanders) and Steve (Bannon) meet at the local bar, the visual of which resembles, “Cheers”, to talk about “What we have in common.” “We need a Political Revolution.” Bernie repeats as he did so often during his 2016 campaign and thereafter. We are in a “War against The Establishment” and the “Deconstruction of the Administrative State” says Steve echoing his Breitbart inspired refrain which he reiterates without fear of getting some more attention than his former boss since he departed The White House.
“Be careful what you ask for, you may already have it” replies the wise in the ways of the world, bartender a former world renown Sociologist and author, Theodore Caplow, now bartending to have some fun in his later years and try his sociological theories and observations out on the Bernies and Steves of the world.
There is no evidence that this meeting ever took place. But there is ample evidence that it could have occurred.
Particularly in the last year, the world has, at times, seemed to be spinning on its axis and emitting rapid changes, which are not as geographically or culturally confined as they once were. Equally significantly and noticeably the pace of these changes do not seem to be coordinated or even controllable by governments, “establishments”, “elites” or any other human made organization or entity.
Evidence of this trend just in the last few months and weeks, includes the back and forth between the governments and the leaders of North Korea and The United States, with at least in the U.S., the appearance of a disconnect between The President of the United States and his Secretary of State, and even between The President’s twitter feed and whomever wrote his speeches which were fed into the teleprompter during his travels in Asia. This, coupled with the dynamic (Traumatic for Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, Senator Al Franken, and other heretofore protected alleged sexual predators and harassers) of women coming forward on a large scale almost daily, disclosing and complaining about sexual assaults and harassment taking place as far back as 40 years ago. These daily “late breaking news” events, along with the continuing multiple investigations of Russian interference in the U.S. and other western nations’ elections by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and various Congressional Committees serve to create the impression of events moving too fast on too many fronts to control.
Whether these events are described as a “political revolution” and/or a “War against the Establishment”, they are constantly and inevitably injected into our daily lives by Cable News, talk radio, and the internet. If these events and their coverage individually, collectively or cumulatively cause any of us anxiety, it may be because the level of certainty and predictability we desire in our lives is routinely, electronically shattered every day.
“The World is Flat” announced columnist and author, Thomas L. Friedman in his book of the same name published in 2005. In that book, Tom Friedman described the dramatic effect of what he labeled “Globalization 3.0” on the “newfound power of individuals to collaborate and compete globally.” Friedman then explained that “individuals must and can now ask where do I fit into the global competition and opportunities of the day, and how can I, on my own collaborate with others globally.
In turn, this increased power of individuals, particularly women, has produced several societal trends which the eminent sociologist Theodore Caplow noted in his book “American Social Trends” first published in the 1990’s. These trends have obviously accelerated in the twenty-first century.
The most discussed and probably the most dramatic was, and continues to be the movement of women into the labor force. This trend was emphasized in the report entitled “A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything a/k/a “The Shriver Report” jointly produced and edited by the Center for American Progress and Maria Shriver. That report noted that married women are now the breadwinners in a majority of American families even though they still do not earn equal pay for equal work. This trend is contemporaneous with other trends including the legitimization of unmarried consensual unions of both opposite and same sex couples, a sharp decline in fertility, the reduction of paternal responsibilities, in some ways and the increase and diversification of those responsibilities in others as well as a massive shift from blue-collar to white-collar employment.
Caplow characterized these changes as “transformative” and goes on to describe the events that led up to them as “a revolution against society rather than against the state.” Caplow observed that “every form of personal authority by which social control has in the past been exercised has been weakened and replaced at least in part by a form of bureaucratic regulation “in the Twenty-First Century.”
That “revolution against society” and the accompanying weakening of every form of personal authority by which social control has been exercised and maintained mostly by men in the past in the opinion of this writer directly accounts for the comparatively recent and sudden willingness of women to now come forward to report sexual harassment. They previously did not disclose these incidents for fear of the repercussions on their jobs and careers over which mostly males had the unchecked authority to administer in almost every industry and most of government until recently. The fact that this authority has been atrophying in the face of increased media scrutiny and replaced by external and internal bureaucratic regulation for a while has not until recently been noticed by many women who were too busy multi-tasking in their daily lives to observe it. Now that the media has highlighted it, the complaints will likely increase exponentially as the culture change accelerates.
This observation is demonstrably true. Among the relationships clearly altered for better or worse, depending on your perspective, are those between managers and workers, men and women, parents and children, teachers and students, clergy and parishioners as well as politicians and electorates. Even the most authoritarian relationships that can still be found amongst which Caplow includes physicians and patients and judges and litigants are increasingly regulated by third parties and constrained by bureaucratic regulations. We see this in the enhanced regulatory and disciplinary authorities and regimens regulating lawyers and judges as well as the increased “access to Justice” accorded to our citizens many of whom can now be seen and heard representing themselves in and out of our courthouses.
What this means says 76-year-old scholar Theodore Caplow is that institutions with reduced authority must be managed more skillfully than those which still have stronger internal authority which is accepted by its stakeholders. That means the judicial branch of government can no longer efficiently manage its limited resources and those of its supporting agencies and staffs by reacting to societal trends and developments rather than planning for them. It means that the leaders of the justice system must accept the need for the same transformation and organizational change that is well advanced in many other private institutions all around us. This includes specialization and multi-disciplinary collaboration.
The managers and judges of the judicial branch of government should therefore institutionalize the means to continuously recognize and research present and future societal trends and then plan for the impact on the courts. In doing so, judges and lawyers should recognize that we do not have exclusive right, title and interest to, the expertise to fairly and efficiently resolve all of our fellow citizens’ disputes and that consequently justice is not to be found exclusively in our state and federal courtrooms or obtained after costly and time-consuming litigation.
The access that most of our citizens want is to justice regardless of where they have to go to get it. We should begin to plan for them to have access to justice quicker and easier than they do today, and we should not in the future restrict its availability only to courtrooms or even courthouses. As we progress through the twenty-first century those who will be leading the judicial branch of government must recognize that its mission to serve justice by providing a comprehensive and diverse public dispute resolution service capable of resolving disputes fairly and efficiently and in a manner, that enables the resolution of the dispute to be final and enforceable within a reasonable time. This is more than a trial service. It is a conflict resolution service.