New Age culture is generally regarded as a modern manifestation of Western millenarianism - a concept built around the expectation of an imminent historical crisis followed by the inauguration of a golden age which occupies a key place in the history of Western ideas. The New Age in the Modern West argues that New Age culture is part of a family of ideas, including utopianism, which construct alternative futures and drive revolutionary change.
Nicholas Campion traces New Age ideas back to ancient cosmology, and questions the concepts of the Enlightenment and the theory of progress. He considers the contributions of the key figures of the 18th century, the legacy of the astronomer Isaac Newton and the Swedish visionary Emanuel Swedenborg, as well as the theosophist, H.P. Blavatsky, the psychologist, C.G. Jung, and the writer and artist, Jose Arguelles. He also pays particular attention to the beat writers of the 1950s, the counterculture of the 1960s, concepts of the Aquarian Age and prophecies of the end of the Maya Calendar in 2012. Lastly he examines neoconservatism as both a reaction against the 1960s and as a utopian phenomenon.