The Bigotry of the Progressive Present

Jan 17, 2019 by

By Joseph Pearce, the Imaginative Conservative:

We live in very mean-spirited times. In spite of all the hypocritical cant about “love” and “tolerance” it can be shown that there is little real difference between the superciliousness of “progressivist” snobbery and the most pernicious forms of racism. If, for example, we were to visit a village in a remote corner of Africa and were to witness children playing with crudely crafted toys and presumed from our observations that these Africans must be inferior to Americans because American children have iPods and smart-phones we would rightly be accused of racism. Yet this is exactly what “progressivists” do when observing cultures separated by time instead of space. The past is deemed to be inferior and can be treated with scorn or, which is perhaps worse, with patronising condescension.

Let’s employ another provocative analogy. If Plato were to walk into a room of impeccably progressive moderns, he would no doubt become the cause of a good deal of humour on account of his quaint “ethnic” clothing. This, however, would be as nothing compared to the guffaws ensuing upon his inept attempts to make sense of the automobile parked outside. He would not only fail to know how to drive it, he might not even know what it was. Perhaps, if he surmised it was indeed a carriage of some sort, he might amuse us by looking in vain for the mechanism by which a horse would be attached to it. Oh, how superior we are to these primitive cultures, we would no doubt think! If, however, Plato deigned to linger among us for a few days, in spite of our decidedly barbaric behaviour, he would soon master the relatively simple skill (it is scarcely an art) of learning to drive. He might even buy some suitably modern clothes to avoid standing out in the crowd. In short, Plato would have mastered the niceties of our technological culture within a day or two, after which he would no longer be the source of such jocularity. On the contrary, he would soon become a nuisance at parties with his insistence on defining the terms under discussion, and his frequent interruption of polite conversations with the cry of “distinguo!”, or whatever is its equivalent in Greek. The Philosopher would soon come to the inescapable conclusion that this strange race of “progressives” were in fact barbarians who adorned themselves with the baubles of technology but had no concept whatever of the meaning of life or the nature of reality. Feeling his exile from civilization intensely he would long for the profundities of the Lyceum.

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