Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

New Book “Disruption” Traces Revolutionary Change Through Western History

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Image credit: Oxford University Press

University of Michigan professor David Potter’s new book “Disruption: Why Things Change” offers lessons and warnings for America in 2021.

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Over the last 2,000 years of world history, there have been critical moments where the conditions and timing have lined up to allow ideas that were considered fringe and downright revolutionary for their time to stick — and change the world.

A critical aspect of all of the disruptions that I talk about is, first and foremost, that there had been a tremendous loss of faith in the basic institutions of society.” —David Potter, author of “Disruption: Why Things Change”

University of Michigan historian David Potter says these moments in history offer an opportunity for us to learn how society can change, and even some warnings about where we might be headed.


Listen: University of Michigan historian David Potter talks about his new book “Disruption: Why Things Change.”


Guest

David Potter is a historian and professor at the University of Michigan. His new book is “Disruption: Why Things Change.”

One of the great values of history is that it enables us to use the past to help us think about what’s happening in the present,” says Potter.

America could be going through or getting close to one of these moments right now, Potter says. There are certain patterns that have emerged over the course of history that may be repeating in 2021. He points specifically to the state of American politics and the proliferation of conspiracy theories that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

A critical aspect of all of the disruptions that I talk about is first and foremost is that there had been a tremendous loss of faith in the basic institutions of society,” he says.

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