Historical Observations

Georges Bernanos

Georges Bernanos

Dr. John Lukacs

Dr. John Lukacs

“This world believes it is moving ahead,” Bernanos wrote in 1946, “because it holds a most materialistic idea of moving ahead.  A world in motion is a world that clambers up slopes, not one that tumbles down.  No matter how fast you fall down a hill, all you are doing is falling down.  Between those who think that civilization is a victory for man in the struggle against the determinism of things . . . and those who want to make of man a thing among things, there is no possible scheme of reconciliation. . . .” ― Historical Consciousness, Copyright © 1968 by John Lukacs, Harper & Row, Publishers, Page 308.

“I often think that in the Western world―and perhaps particularly in the United States―a new great division among men may have already begun to form.  On the political and ideological level this is obscured by the continuing deadweight of old categories of ideas and their antiquated terminology.  … the adjectives “liberal,” “conservative” and even the designations “Right” and “Left” make less and less sense now.  Indeed, it was as early as a century ago, around 1870, that the importance and the meaning of the classical nineteenth-century antithesis of “liberals” vs. “conservatives” was beginning to fade.  During the eighty-odd years that followed, liberalism and conservatism were giving way to the confrontation―and, eventually, to the compounding―of two rather more deep-seated and more elementary forces, nationalism and socialism.  Is it not possible that the principal division in the political thinking of the future may crystallize on yet another, more profound level: between partisans of reason and partisans of progress, between those who still see no sense in resisting the increasing mechanization of the world and those who no longer share this outdated idea of Progress?  I certainly find it to be significant that in the United States the opposition to superhighways and the moon rockets and computers and large-scale construction programs and supermodern gadgetry and gimmickry is crystallizing, perhaps for the first time, in the minds of the very people―”liberals” and “progressives”―who in the past used to be among the enthusiastic propagators of a materialist optimism; and, what is more important, among all kinds of people whom the old political and ideological categories no longer fit.  Yet much time will have to pass until this opposition to the still prevalent ideas of Progress becomes widespread enough to be effective: for this requires not only increasing efforts of propaganda but increasing consciousness in the minds of people of the reasons for their opposition―a difficult process, since…many decent people have not yet succeeded in thinking things through, in freeing their minds from many of the corroded shackles of ideas that were, after all, progenitors of certain monstrosities of which their minds have become belatedly aware.” ― Historical Consciousness, Copyright © 1968 by John Lukacs, Harper & Row, Publishers, Page 309.

About Michael

Retired military officer; retired Air Force civil servant; retired executive, DS Information Systems Corporation; writer; researcher; reader and avid yachtsman.
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