Surely if there is one idea which should have been debunked in the last century, that would be the idea of progress. The Great War was not progress. The Soviet junta was not progress. The Gulag was not progress. The Second World War was not progress.
We live in a world of constant change, and we assume too easily that this is good. Politicians, professors, pundits, self-proclaimed champions of the oppressed - those with vested interests in change - repeat the lie that flux is good. But these cheerleaders of constant change are unhappy people, by and large. Certainly there are some areas of human life in which change is good. Who would want to go back to the medicine or dentistry of fifty years ago? But these areas are exceptions.
Surely if there is one idea which should have been debunked in the last century, that would be the idea of progress. The Great War was not progress. The Soviet junta was not progress. The Gulag was not progress. The Second World War was not progress. HaShoah was not progress.
AIDS, pornography, broken homes, prostitution and increasingly vile violent crimes are not progress. Television, the Medusa as Ray Bradbury once noted, that turns 100 million Americans into stone for six hours each day, is not progress. The oceans of frantic, frivolous and foolish “news” and “entertainment” stories that drown out all real sentiment and cognition is not progress.
The overthrow of the Shah of Iran was not progress. The degradation of Islamic rage into homicide bombers is not progress. The construction of the largest death camp in the world in North Korea is not progress. The expansion of government in America to the point that it increasingly swallows up all other resources is not progress. The very notion of progress is false.
Does this mean that the human condition cannot be improved? In once sense, yes: We all are born and we all die. We have precious little control over how we die or when we did, unless we murder ourselves. Our children and parents and spouses will all die. All our work and all of our mortal dreams will die too.
But the human condition can be improved in another sense. Medical advances which remove pain and increase our mobility are real blessings. The expansion of available honest information is a blessing. The cornucopia of agriculture and the engine of technology can make our lives easier.
Easier, though, for what? The same medical advances lead to actresses with endless vanity surgeries to prolong youth in desperation or, even worse, permit monsters like in the Gestapo or KGB or “medical” labs in North Korea today to commit even more hideous crimes. Are fission and fusion bombs a blessing? The poor of America are not hungry but fat; they are not overworked but bored to anger.
The notion of the perfectibility of the human race by material changes or scientific discoveries is an affront to the Blessed Creator of the Universe. If wealth, good looks, brilliance and comfort were all we needed, then He would have given those to us in a nanosecond. What God seeks instead is the perfectibility of our love, our interest in truth, our faith in His existence, our thankfulness for our creation and for his Creation.
Our hypnotic fixation on flux, on change, on action to transform this in the world or that in the world is bound to lead not to the feeding of our real needs but rather to temporary fix of a heroin addict. That is why despots, even despots with some good intentions initially, degrade so quickly into monstrosities: self-made gods.
We can change only our hearts and souls. We can embrace what Benjamin Franklin called the “Powerful Goodness” or we can run around in circles, creating work (how much of the work we do today is simply make-work?) and making each other miserable. Embracing that “Powerful Goodness” requires a quality which is a forgotten virtue but which is easily associated with Franklin: wisdom, trust and faith.
Modernity lacks wisdom and wisdom does not come from flux; wisdom comes from patience and respect for the lessons of the past. Flux demands that whatever theory has the most immediate cachet is truth de jour. Wisdom knows that truth does not change, although over time it may become clearer or more refined. Flux for the sake of flux is a variation of recreational war, that most awful of human activities. Flux, for the sake of flux is destruction of value, which is why Marxist regimes were so enamored with permanent revolution, because the goal of Marxism and other variations of the same atheistic prostitutes live is to waste, to cause poverty, to justify their addiction to the narcotic of power.
Bruce Walker has been a published author in print and in electronic media since 1990. He is a regular contributor to WebCommentary, Conservative Truth, American Daily, Enter Stage Right, Intellectual Conservative, NewsByUs and Men’s News Daily. His first book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie by Outskirts Press was published in January 2006.