We are in fact living at the cusp of what should be called the Libertarian Moment, the dawning not of some fabled, clichéd, and loosey-goosey Age of Aquarius but a time of increasingly hyper-individualized, hyper-expanded choice over every aspect of our lives, from 401(k)s to hot and cold running coffee drinks, from life-saving pharmaceuticals to online dating services. This is now a world where it’s more possible than ever to live your life on your own terms; it’s an early rough draft version of the libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick’s glimmering “utopia of utopias.” Due to exponential advances in technology, broad-based increases in wealth, the ongoing networking of the world via trade and culture, and the decline of both state and private institutions of repression, never before has it been easier for more individuals to chart their own course and steer their lives by the stars as they see the sky. If you don’t believe it, ask your gay friends, or simply look who’s running for the White House in 2008.
I'm skeptical -- the smoking bans and bailouts (indeed, both of the 2008 candidates were more than happy to throw massive amounts of money at our current economic problems), domestic spying and gay marriage bans are broadly popular; moreover, the "Chinese model" of free trade but severely restricted civil and political rights is worryingly popular in the second world.
But the comparisons to the 1970s is interesting, and worth considering. There have been dark days before, and freedom is greatly on the increase.