The zeitgeist of the modern era can be summed up in a single concept. I will call it Browncoat Libertarianism, after the Firefly series.
Now, Browncoat Libertarianism is not -quite- mainstream libertarianism; mainstream libertarianism is liberty as a product of principles, whereas Browncoat Libertarianism is liberty as a product of the opposition to authority. Individual Browncoats may be principled, but the movement is not.
Why on earth would I say that Browncoat Libertarianism is the zeitgeist of the modern era, and how did this come to be?
The answer to both questions is: The Internet.
Now, one thing you have to understand about my generation, we have grown up with the internet; we have grown up with this wild and boundless frontier. We are, in a very real sense, pioneers, and there is a definitive pioneering spirit to the internet age; people have been doing things which have never been done before.
And the internet is producing Browncoats for three very important reasons.
First, principled Browncoats have begun to connect with one another, which has let us realize we're not alone - we are a very potent force to be reckoned with.
Second, the internet has produced this massive visibility into figures of authority, which has exposed corruption and malfeasance on a level never seen before - Bush was not an exceptional president, nor is Obama, it's the insight we have gained into their administrations which has made them unique, and it's not a pleasant vision. This has pushed Browncoat Libertarianism as a serious social movement; remember, Browncoat Libertarianism is about opposing authority, and the internet has both allowed and forced us to see authority in a much clearer way - and it's impossible to defend it. The principled Browncoats are for the most part leading this charge; they are both conservatives and liberals, the uniting force between them being a microscopic examination of the proponents of authority with nary a positive review.
And third, authority is -aware- of the level of scrutiny it is facing, and has made (and is making) very visible attempts to shut it down - giving its critics even more credibility.
In Firefly, the Browncoats lost - in the battle for the frontier of the Internet, we Browncoat Libertarians will lose if we allow authority to shut us down, to silence and moderate our voices - when sites like Wikileaks can no longer operate, can no longer disrupt. When the signal -can- be stopped.
As long as scrutiny is held up, the illusion of authority as a competent parental figure will continue to deteriorate, and the political parties will continue their slide into fragmentation. We will lose much of our leadership in this process, hopefully not most, as party partisans continue their slide into hypocrisy, exposed as the intellectual frauds that they are.
The Internet is another chance at renewing the principles of liberty. In the US, we are unique in having zeitgeists which push for greater freedom, rather than less. Let's not lose this one.