Here are a few operating assumptions on this blog, influences which I realize are at play in my own mind and life. Let me know if you disagree.
They might have some predictive ability, and, then again, they might have quite a bit wrong, and thus, much less predictive ability.
There are plenty of windmills:
1. Individualism, even that to which many libertarians subscribe (draw a ring around the individual, and proceed from there) tends to unmoor many people from the previous obligations, institutions and traditions that were once more prevalent in American life, including that of organized religion (more people, especially educated people in America, are waiting to get married and have babies, for example). Aside from the economic and technological forces at work in our lives, I’d argue that more people are more inclined to more ‘me-based’ kinds of decisions about work, home, and their personal lives. I hesitate to make any value judgments about such a claim.
2. This individualism has been influenced by both modernism and postmodernism in the arts and popular entertainment, and both modernism and postmodernism are full of existentialist and nihilist influences (‘me against the absurdly meaningless void’, and ‘me against the absurdly meaningless void with no possibility of objective knowledge’). Such influences can help to create a landscape of despairing individuals into which many familiar ‘-isms’ have gained influence, ideas around which individuals are forging meaning and purpose in their lives. Most of us, after all, can’t bear too much reality, and it’s tough to be alone, and sensible to try and ease the suffering and pain inevitably found in this world (religion is very practiced in such matters). These influences would include: New Atheism, Soft Marxism, Pop-Darwinism, Environmentalism, Feminism, Multiculturalism, and a kind of broad, liberal humanism/idealism.
3. Whatever your thoughts on the dangers and downsides to organized religion and its discontents, of which there are no shortage, there are many dangers and downsides to the modern ‘-isms,’ too. Individuals attached to causes and ideals, without necessarily thinking those causes and ideas through, easily leads to outcomes of ‘more.’ The particular ‘mores,’ of human-rights, more ‘peace,’ more ‘knowledge’ etc. often end-up in an ever-expanding State as a fulfillment of liberal humanism/idealism. Thus, liberal idealism can have trouble recognizing limits to power, limiting principles to its idealism in the form of institutional power, and can easily overlook where that idealism meets reality and people who think differently. There are serious design flaws here, highlighted by the activists and radicals seeking constant change beneath such high ideals; driving change and conflict within (where real authoritarians and totalitarians lurk).
I’ve got some work to do in thinking more about a deontological rights-based defense of self-ownership, if such a thing is possible, but drop me a line if you’re interested.