Tuesday, April 08, 2008
I just finished reading Brink Lindsey's The Age of Abundance. It's something of a condensed libertarian history of the US, with an emphasis on the postwar period. The crux of the book is the idea that the culture war politics that have pervaded American political discourse since the late 1960s are a product of a libertarian awakening of sorts. The anti-establishment left and the religious right are two sides of the same coin. The rise of mass affluence has given people the chance to spend their surplus time, energy, and money on defining themselves, connecting with people who share their interests and values, and recruiting others to their side. Along the way, the population has become more comfortable with the ideas social and economic liberty, possibly unbeknownst to themselves. While I largely agreed with this thesis before reading the book, I think the book does upend a lot of the conventional wisdom about politics in postwar America, so it could be a very interesting read for anyone who has never been exposed to the writing of Lindsey and his contemporaries.