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Old vs. new, past vs. future

Today I was reading a discussion on a blog in which the question was raised: is it more useful to our cause to be ‘forward-thinking’ and future-oriented, rather than take a reactionary tone, focusing on recovering our traditions?

The question, I thought, was loaded in favor of the ‘future-oriented’ option; the way it’s put, of course it makes more sense to try to envision a better future — and given our dystopian present situation, almost any change for the better is preferable.

However — and it will surprise no one that I’m in favor of trying to reclaim as much of tradition as possible — how can we focus on a future which exists only in imagination? And how can we even imagine, much less create from whole cloth something which has never before been, without becoming like the would-be utopian leftists, who have succeeded in creating a nightmare in their quest to make real their bizarre visions of the future?

The Jacobins, like all their leftist/progressivist ideological progeny, thought they could raze everything and build something new and perfect from the ground up. How is that working out so far? Unfortunately some on the ‘new right’ under whatever label they call themselves, are so soured on the past, and on all the works of their forebears, that they are essentially adopting the Jacobin attitude toward junking the past altogether because “it didn’t work”. Why didn’t it work? “It was imperfect.” Why was it imperfect?

The gist of their answer seems to be that the past generations were to blame; they were flawed in a unique and irremediable way, a peculiar kind of original sin, unique only to certain past generations — but absent in the present generation of young people. No; they are exempt from this particular taint; it was confined to certain time periods and generations. Once those uniquely guilty sinners are dead and gone, the present generation of young people, freed of their toxic presence, will then proceed to build their own Future, unimpeded. Many of the younger rightists share this way of thinking with the ‘mad-dog left’ of their age group.

In my early blogging days I wrote a piece asking what happened to the old optimistic America of the 1950s? Does anyone remember how the 1950s vision of the future, as seen in Sci-Fi movies and Disney cartoons, showed triumphant science and technology solving all the world’s problems: we would conquer disease and hunger; Science would show us all how to live together in peace and plenty. The problem was ignorance and want, and Science had the answers. By the 21st century we’d live in ‘Jetsons’-style cities with our own personal sky-cars to fly around in. There’d be colonies on the Moon and Mars, if not in outer space. And on and on. I think many people assumed that given the recent successes of science and technology, this was all guaranteed. Onward and upward; the human race always progresses, and progress is always good, always for the better. We are all ‘evolving’ toward a higher, more enlightened state of being, growing up as a species. So they said. And so some people still say.

But surely most of us are seeing Science (capital-S) as hardly the savior of mankind. Science is, as the character ‘Shane’ said in the 1953 movie of that name said of guns:

“…a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything..as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”

Science is flawed human understanding and reason. It’s served us well in many cases but it cannot save us. The human element alone makes it imperfect, and its discoveries susceptible to being misused or corrupted. Think of the ‘global warming/climate change’ scam, as well as the mountain of lies surrounding the issue of race/HBD.

What then, imparts an aura of ‘magic’ to any of our visions of the future as enlightened by Science? Do we really think that we can conjure up this shiny, antiseptic future world as gleaming utopia, just by thinking positively?

And what good will adopting this as a tactic or strategy for pragmatic purposes (“to appeal to the young”) do? Isn’t such a strategy cynical? Would it not be better to work from what is true — as in tried-and-true — and workable as we know from real experience?

Guido Bruno, writing in 1916, said this:

“It will not do to say that all the ways of old were the only good ways, and that those of to-day are turning us from paths that were good enough for our forefathers, to those that lead, we known not where; but on the other hand we can say, that many of the old ways have been discarded only because they were old, and not because we found something better.

What we call up-to-dateness and modernism is, in the analysis, a product born of excitement, a restless desire for change, a going from one thing to another, and although there is a measured tendency in some directions for a return to some of the ways of old, the fear of being called old-fashioned is the tyrant that speeds us on to seek new activities and novelty in entertainment.”

I’ve lately wondered if some of the obsession with ‘diversity’ and the desire to outmarry is nothing more complicated or profound than just this juvenile seeking for change-for-change’s-sake, coupled with the desire to repudiate one’s old fogy elders. Forget pathological altruism and all the rest; what if it’s just novelty-seeking?

To return to Guido Bruno’s remarks:

“All things up to date have their places, and by invention do we measure progress, but on the other hand a change is often times a going back, rather than a moving forward.”

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One thought on “Old vs. new, past vs. future

  1. Forget pathological altruism and all the rest; what if it’s just novelty-seeking?

    Younger people today think that they have invented exciting new ideas that nobody had ever thought of before. They don’t realise that all their daring revolutionary ideas are actually old ideas, and most of them are old ideas that have been tried and they didn’t work.

    Like

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