In the beginning, modern individualism worked around the complications of human nature that are contrary to its basic premises. It had to deal, for example, with the reality that no one is an entirely autonomous being.Share
In fact, all individuals are social beings that need other people. People naturally crave society. They tend toward God, their creator. There are certain social bonds and institutions (like marriage) that form and shape the individual and anchor the person to reality. People need those strong ties to religion, tradition, family, custom, or moral law so as to keep society in balance and provide the social capital that makes a nation prosperous.
Modern individualism never fully acknowledged such realities, but rather lived off the rich social institutions from which it sought freedom. It was much more these institutions that helped individuals achieve greatness than the sheer power of the individualist will. America had just enough social capital before the sixties to build a vibrant economy and sturdy social fabric. (Read more.)