In the above post, and among other commentators, I often see the argument that the US (or the West, generally) is being overwhelmed by radical individualism.
I see things quite differently: it appears that collectivism and Statism are on the rise, just as they were in the early 1930s. (Fortunately, the modern equivalent of January 30, 1933 has not yet come. Yet.)
Here are my data points …
1. All the necessary laws and precedents for a radical abridgment of civil liberties are in place, from the Patriot Act through the acceptance of indefinite detention, torture, and the Presidential kill list.
2. The TSA and similar agencies – and police everywhere – are making a hash of the Fourth Amendment. I remember when people could travel without being searched, and when access to government buildings was far freer than it is now.
3. With data mining, security cameras, RFIDs, and other new tools, the framework for public/private partnership for universal surveillance is being built now. The Randian notion that heroic businessmen will resist this is as silly as the rest of her ideology – almost every businessman and firm will cooperate with this trend if they can make money doing so.
4. For obvious reasons, new restrictions on gun ownership are imminent. At the end of this road, the lords and the knights will be allowed to have arms … and the peasants and townsmen will be disarmed.
5. With modern information systems, everyone leaves a wide trail that any investigator can use to track our purchases, our associates, and our beliefs. Privacy, and the American tradition of starting over in a new town with a clean slate, are history.
6. The modern tax system is as invasive and meddlesome as ever.
and so forth …
I get that people are being left increasingly “free” to fornicate and to use smut. That’s the freedom of a barnyard animal; in most cases, unless the animal is a rare breed, the owner does not care who the beast copulates with, or how often the beast acts upon its impulses.
But the freedom to live unmolested by the State unless we harm others is fading into memory.
In other words, I believe that we are entering a new age of collectivism and sophisticated tyranny, not an era of individualism … much less “radical individualism.”
If I am wrong, what am I missing, or failing to understand?
Excellent points and questions on our current pseudo-radical individualist society. In many respects, there is less and less freedom (and consequently less individualism) coupled with the increasing freedom for certain behaviors only, namely ones that are sexually perverted and perverse, dysfunctional or harmful.