I agree with most of what David Brooks writes here, but I do think he is missing some context. The main societal change of my life time has been the rise of conservatism, mainly via the Reagan presidency, but you can probably trace that back further to post World War II and the establishment of the U.S. political and capitalistic empire. The political empire demands the United States stands alone as the most powerful nation on earth, the capitalistic empire demands that citizens are responsible for themselves so that there is no redistribution of wealth.