The welfare-entitlement state is likewise a relic. Only a few political dinosaurs are calling for more spending, more entitlements and more taxes. Fairly or not, most Europeans and Americans accept that the limits of redistribution have been reached. President Obama's talk of "spread the wealth" and "fat cat" bankers has not done much to lower $1.3 trillion deficits and 9.4 percent unemployment. So he has dropped the high-tax, more-benefits, class-warfare rhetoric in favor of writing editorials in the Wall Street Journal assuring business of less regulation and more government help.
Race relations are being redefined as never before. Interracial marriage, integration and immigration have made the old rubrics -- "white," "black," "brown" -- obsolete. Rigid, half-century-old affirmative action preference programs have not caught up with everyday reality. Their overseers are likewise ossified, now that millions in an interracial America do not fit into their precise racial slots, and being white -- to the degree that it can be easily defined -- is not synonymous with innate privilege. The notion that Tiger Woods' children need an admissions or employment edge over natives of Appalachia or immigrants from India is surreal.
Abroad, things are just as upside down. Russia is no longer the avatar of global communism but the world's largest cutthroat capitalist oil producer. China's cultural revolution is now about making tons of money and driving a luxury car. The European Union has been reduced to finger-pointing and standing in line to beg Germany for cash -- a far cry from its advertised 21st century utopian brotherhood. Our old neighbor Mexico is now a near-failed narco-state, bearing a greater resemblance to Afghanistan than to its brethren North American nations.
In response to this topsy-turvy world, the traditional media, tenured professors, well-paid public employees, rigid ethnic and racial lobbies, unions, organized retirees, open-borders advocates and entrenched politicians all are understandably claiming that we live in an uncivil age.
We well may, but we also are seeing the waning of an old established order. And the resulting furor suggests that the old beneficiaries are not going quietly into that good night.