This line comes from Chris DeGroot, and I nearly made it a QOTD, but I think it actually deserves more discussion.
“Over time, any nation in which personal autonomy is taken for granted as the highest good must become deficient in social cohesion.”
And that’s where the Enlightenment falls apart. In their rush to overcome the oppressive social environment such as under royalty or an official State church (not to mention religious excesses such as the Inquisition), the Founding Fathers, Enlightened all, created a system with ironclad rights (which they called “natural”) which were guaranteed to the individual and protected by the Constitution.
I have no idea what John Adams or Thomas Jefferson would have thought of a society with many nebulous and self-identified genders about which nobody dare breathe an ugly or even judgmental word (despite that “freedom of speech” thing). Let’s not even talk about the demonization of White men or the “reverse” racism enshrined in racial-preference laws. If they’d had that situation back then, Washington may well have called out the militia to enforce a series of mass floggings… ummmm…
Sorry, I went away to warm and wonderful place there for a moment.
The point is that intelligent people (such as, say, the Founding Fathers) have always known that the concept of individual rights stood at the very top of an extremely slippery slope, but I suppose that the aforementioned probably counted on the common sense of the people and their elected officials not to take society to a place where a White woman wearing a caftan on a hot summer’s day could be decried as “cultural appropriation”, and punished (by censure from university authorities, for example, or by socially-acceptable ostracization).
So much for that idea.
DeGroot’s statement is perfectly true, of course, so at a time when we as a nation are hopelessly divided into a multiplicity of self-interested groups of increasingly-freakish people — not to mention nigh-monolithic groups such as “Blacks”, “progressives” or “LGBTOSTFU” — it seems an impossible task to call for such exotica as “national unity” (what a fucking joke) or make pleas that sound like “Can’t we all just get along?”
No, we can’t, ever; not when The Other has been institutionally demonized by the Perpetually Aggrieved.
Well-meaning people may think that there must be a way for us to come together and put aside our differences, but that’s never going to happen. As long as the most trivial differences between us have been magnified into chasms separating us into “Nazis” and “racists” (to name but two), such harmony is absolutely impossible.
I wish there was a workable, lasting solution, but there isn’t. Even the mass floggings alluded to above aren’t possible, otherwise the Left would have started them already — on us — for being the Nazi / racist / evil / Trumpians / whatever we are (according to their standards, of course).
The only thing that does cause so splintered a nation to unify is a calamity (e.g. a hurricane’s devastation) or a palpable evil perpetrated by a hostile entity (e.g. 9/11). Because of the sheer size of the United States, natural calamity is generally localized and is not a “national” event. And even the actions of a hostile entity have an increasingly-abbreviated shelf life nowadays, so I see no “unity” in our collective future. Hell, I don’t even see comity appearing anytime soon.
But then, I’m The Enemy.