The Cult of Individualism: A History of an Enduring American Myth

coverimageMy latest book, The Cult of Individualism: A History of an Enduring American Myth was published today by Praeger. It is a study of the backgrounds of the Red-State/Blue-State divide that so bedevils American politics. The idea for it arose from explorations into the history of my own family, which has roots (not to mention contemporary branches) on both sides of the divide.  For a number of reasons, I use “Borderer” to identify the Red State side and “secular-liberal” for the Blue State.  Here’s a passage:

The Borderer vision of individualism starts within each of them, with faith in the person and in God. It next moves, in a spreading circle, to family, to friends, and only then to others in the broad realm of human interaction. If each person acted responsibly, by these lights (and just as Thoreau argues), there would be little need for government–each individual having a tempering effect on those they interact with. The secular-liberal vision starts in a different place, with a structured base created and maintained by the group. Once responsibilities to it are met, the individual is free to–is encouraged to–act on his or her own to whatever ends seem appropriate, as long as those ends do not threaten or compromise the group structure. Here again we see Thoreau, but from another perspective. (140)

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