Jul 18, 2022
Nations rise and fall, succeed or fail in rivalries, and enjoy stability or descend into chaos because of a complex web of factors. One critical component is a nation's essential social characteristics. This report examines the characteristics of highly competitive societies, explores the relationship of a nation's social condition to its global standing, and then applies these lessons to the United States today.
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Nations rise and fall, succeed or fail in rivalries, and enjoy stability or descend into chaos because of a complex web of factors that affect competitive advantage. One critical component is the package of essential social characteristics of a nation. The ultimate story of the Cold War is that the United States was simply a more competitive society than the Soviet Union: more energetic, more vibrant, more innovative, more productive, more legitimate. Through analysis of comparative studies of historical eras and trends, historical case studies, and the findings of issue-specific empirical research, the report explores how seven characteristics of a society determine its competitive standing and distinguish dynamic and competitively successful nations.
If the history surveyed in this report provides an accurate guide to the future, the fate of the United States in today's rivalries will not be determined solely, or even in significant degree, by the numbers of its weapons or amounts of defense spending or how many proxy wars it wins but by the basic characteristics of its society. The author applies the seven leading characteristics that affect national standing to the United States to create a snapshot of where the country stands. That application provides some reason for optimism. The United States continues to reflect many of these characteristics, and the overall synergistic engine, more than any other large country in the world. However, multiple trends are working to weaken traditional U.S. advantages. Several, such as the corruption of the national information space, pose acute risks to the long-term dynamism and competitiveness of the nation, raising the worrying prospect that the United States has begun to display classic patterns of a major power on the far side of its dynamic and vital curve.
The Sources of National Competitive Advantage
Factors Other Than Societal Qualities That Determine Competitive Position
National Ambition and Will
Unified National Identity
An Active State
A Learning and Adapting Society
Competitive Diversity and Pluralism
Assessing U.S. Standing in the Characteristics
Findings and Implications