Perhaps the foremost trend our nostalgia keeps us from seeing is the vast decentralization of American life, which has characterized the early years of this century and looks only to grow. The postwar order was dominated by large institutions: big government, big business, big labor, big media, big universities, mass culture. But in every area of our national life—or at least every area except government—we are witnessing the replacement of large, centralized institutions by smaller, decentralized networks.
Younger Americans are growing up amid a profusion of options in every realm of life, with far more choice but far less predictability and security. Dynamism is increasingly driven not by economies of scale but by competitively-driven marginal improvements. Our culture is becoming a sea of subcultures. Sources of information, entertainment, and education are proliferating.
Blinded by Nostalgia | Yuval Levin | First Things. This seems very wrong to me. Not because the “smaller, decentralized networks” don’t exist but because they tend to be totally dependent on the “large, centralized institutions”: a handful of massive companies (TimeWarner, Comcast, Microsoft, Google, Apple) govern our access to our personal networks and keep them under close surveillance — gathering data they may well share with the NSA and other governmental agencies. Levin is confusing the appearance (decentralization) with the reality (increasing consolidation of data in the hands of a few powerhouse organizations).