I’d be lying if I said I haven’t ever taken a selfie. Still do with the kids occasionally. However, something about this just feels wrong. So much of the endgame of what the enlightenment has wrought (though much good was brought about to be sure) can be summed up in this one picture; that we would memorialize as important something so vain and trivial. As the center-point of what defines objective reality shifted from the external to the inner-self, the subjective, how could this not be the end? A society centered on making itself great and known to a watching world. As we’ve soaked in celebrity culture, and now possess mediums to broadcast ourselves, how could we not become our own celebrities with our own fans? And how much, in such a short time, has social media enabled all of us to put this narcissistic tendency in full throttle? And now we memorialize such overt self-centeredness? What an age we live in.
The following is an essay from 2001 by political scientist James Kurth on the “Protestant Deformation” or what could be described as the radical secularization of Protestantism. As he notes, we’re now entering the final stages of this deformation, a long and twisty road that has led us to a radical individualism that threatens a new form of totalitarianism upon the free world: the totalitarianism of the self. Enjoy.
Analysts of American foreign policy have debated for decades about the relative influence of different factors in the shaping of American foreign policy. National interests, domestic politics, economic interests, and liberal ideology have each been seen as the major explanation for the peculiarities of the American conduct of foreign affairs. But although numerous scholars have advocated the importance of realism, idealism, capitalism, or liberalism, almost no one has thought that Protestantism – the dominant religion in the United States – is worth consideration. Certainly for the twentieth century, it seemed abundantly clear that one could (and should) write the history of American foreign policy with no reference to Protestantism whatsoever.