Arcs And Circles

Victor Davis Hanson (my emphasis):

For the last decade, we were lectured that the arc of history always bends toward our own perceptions of moral justice. More likely, human advancement tends to be circular and should not to be confused with technological progress.

Just as often, history is ethically circular. No Roman province produced anyone quite like a modern Hitler; Attila’s body count could not match Stalin’s.

In the classical Athens of 420 B.C., a far greater percentage of the population could read than in Ottoman Athens of A.D. 1600. The average undergraduate of 1950 probably left college knowing a lot more than his 2017 counterpart does. The monopolies of Google, Facebook, and Amazon are far more insidious than that of Standard Oil, even if our masters of the universe seem more hip in their black turtlenecks than John D. Rockefeller did in his starched collars.


  1. I meant to share Hanson’s article. Glad you found it on your own. He is, of course, spot on about today’s way-undergraduates.

    Posted August 23, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink
  2. Issac says

    Hanson is apparently not familiar with Roman Jewish relations under Titus, but his broader point is well taken.

    Posted August 23, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  3. I doubt Hanson is unfamiliar with Titus’s brutality toward the Jews during the Siege of Jerusalem. Not “quite like a modern Hitler” is still a valid assertion, I think.

    Posted August 24, 2017 at 1:04 am | Permalink
  4. Jimmy says

    Nationalise them. What’s the left going to say? They’ve been trying to nationalise everything under the sun for 200 years.

    Posted August 24, 2017 at 4:16 am | Permalink
  5. random observer says

    Well, the Assyrians messed up the demographics of the whole fertile crescent pretty hard by massacre and population removals. And first the Mongols and then Timur did comparable damage to the Turco-Persian cultural sphere.

    But I don’t think they reach Hitler/Stalin/Mao levels in terms of exact motives or body count per annum.

    Posted August 28, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink
  6. random observer says

    Haven’t been around in a while. I’ve devoted some part of my days to tweeting recently and this has been both an enjoyable way to push back at selected targets and a source of endless new links to explore and sources of despair. So I’m just returning to some regular blog haunts.

    I read back to your July 11 post Pwned about that speech comprised of Hitler quotes. Don’t know whose twitter feed that was but it’s suspended now.

    Posted August 28, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  7. random observer says

    Anyway, as I said I haven’t been around in a couple of months but still friendly to this house and enjoyed catching up on what I’ve missed.

    Increasingly, I find myself trying to resituate the views of bloggers I have followed. There are too many categories floating around, with vague borders.

    Looking into your exchange with Bill Vallicella and that definition of “white supremacy” you posted, I quite see and agree why you would say that it does not describe the actual views of him, yourself or of many others including Taylor.

    But looking back over some of your recent posts on immigration, I can only say that for most of the centre/liberal left these days, let alone anyone further left, any interest in maintaining the traditional demographic balance of the US or any other country already gets the white supremacist label. And although I think that’s a gross extension of the term, I can understand why they think that.

    It leaves me bereft of comeback, at any rate

    Ditto a preference for Western Civ, as given in Trump’s Warsaw speech. Has quickly become a no-no. Don’t know if you saw Peter Beinart tweeting on it at the time with Matt Yglesias. They basically concluded the whole concept is racist. I didn’t think of them as especially far left.

    I think I’m a few years younger than you are, but I’m seeing the foundation I grew into in the 80s and 90s collapsing fast.

    Posted August 28, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink
  8. Whitewall says

    “but I’m seeing the foundation I grew into in the 80s and 90s collapsing fast.”

    That is the direction and as you see, it is deliberate. You ought to see things from the perspective of a few decades earlier.

    Posted August 28, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  9. Malcolm says

    Whitewall is right. Things have moved very far, very quickly.

    When the very idea of belonging to a civilization that one wishes to preserve becomes taboo, the ground we all stand on — Left and Right alike — is about to become quicksand beneath our feet.

    Posted August 28, 2017 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  10. random observer says



    That’s the metaphor. I can feel it. Some younger folks I know don’t, or see only continuous improvement, or just don’t share the things I identified with.

    I don’t know whether I worry more that they will just continue to build a new world for themselves and only I will feel like an alien, or that the quicksand will get worse and engulf them too. I often hope it’s the latter.

    Posted September 5, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

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