Here’s a good way to think about our present plight. There are two fundamental options: individualism and collectivism.
Individualism starts with the assumption that man is a unified and sacred being with inherent worth and dignity and that nature and nature’s God has endowed man with absolute rights and responsibilities. On this view, the function of the state is to discover and protect absolute rights rights and responsibilities. This is the view that undergirded the American Founding; this is the view of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Collectivism starts with the assumption that man is a fragmented and and banal being with relative worth and dignity and that man and man alone invents privileges and duties. On this view, the function of the state is to create and impose arbitrary privileges and duties. This is the view that undergirded the French, Bolshevik, and Nazi revolutions; this is the view of the Communist Manifesto, Humanist Manifesto I and II, and the various charters of the United Nations.
The post-modern west has all but rejected individualism and is rapidly sliding into collectivism.
To dive deeper into the scientific, philosophical and theological issues surrinding the individualist and collectivist world views, be sure to watch this important talk by Nancy Pearcey, author of “Love Thy Body”: