Nov 4, 2021
Are the bonds of American national unity becoming dangerously frayed? To judge from a steady stream of books, op ed pieces, opinion journal articles, and talk show conversations on this matter, the disturbing answer is yes.
Consider one example among many: a new book argues that there are within our borders four distinct “Americas,” each competing for recognition as the authentic America. But why only four? Why not five or six? Is there a prize for the contestant who argues credibly for the highest number?
Making allowance for the herd instinct of the chattering class, however, there really is a spirit of division abroad in today’s America. But it goes back further and reaches deeper than the pundits seem to grasp.
It became widely visible in the 1960s – the age of pot, Vietnam, sexual revolution, and campus unrest – but its underlying causes began much earlier. Basically, it’s a split between a traditional morality that grounds rights in duties that arise from our shared human nature and a new morality of individualistic self-gratification.