The culture war against the past

Jul 30, 2020 by

by Frank Furedi, spiked:

Our elites have become uncomfortable with Western civilisation itself.

The cultural conflicts that have engulfed much of the Western world threaten to detach our societies from their past. Almost seamlessly the numerous disputes that have erupted over identity, race, gender and family life have reinforced one another and intermeshed. But in the end the venom is directed towards one central target – Western society’s past. This project has little to do with the honourable mission of learning from the past. It is about treating the past as if it were current, and condemning historic figures and institutions as if they were our contemporaries. In this way, culture warriors seek to demonstrate their moral superiority over the centuries-old target of their outrage. Paradoxically, this crusade seeks to detach the present from the past.

It is important to understand that the culture war against the past is not confined to the vandalisation of old memorials and statues. The numerous demonstrations denouncing the misdeeds of Western empires or attacking historical figures like Jefferson, Gladstone or Churchill are in reality only the most vivid and striking symptoms of the cultural malaise afflicting the West.

The most significant feature of the war against the past is the complicity of cultural institutions and their leaders in these projects of estranging society from its traditions and history. It is not merely universities that promote a vision of the nation’s past as one that people should view with shame. The claim that contemporary cultural institutions bear the burden of guilt for the crimes committed by their ancestors is widely internalised by the cultural elites. From their perspective, Western history is a story of unremitting violence and greed. There are no ‘good old days’ that can serve as a focus for redemption and nostalgia. Instead of nostalgia, the current regime promotes a vision of the past as ‘the bad old days’, inciting guilt, shame and self-loathing. This corrosive orientation towards one’s history leads to constant performances of apology.

Read here

 

Related Posts

Tags

Share This