Perhaps the greatest challenge to Western Civilization comes when enough people order their decisions based on perception rather than reality and our politics and culture begin to rely on a foundation built on sand.
#FakeHistory, so to speak.
Not a day goes by when we aren’t told that things we accepted as fact were not really fact at all. Dinosaurs had feathers, low fat diets make us fat, contrary to conventional wisdom early humans weren’t the peaceful wandering Eloi living in harmony with nature, and so on and so on.
There is a significant amount of our “history” that is based on reconstruction, deduction and inference. What is most often missing is the context of the actions – the “why”. Actions we view as noble are sometimes nefarious – and vice versa. How is it possible, some several centuries hence, to know what an Aztec ruler was thinking when he went to war with a neighboring tribe?
Take a favorite boogie man of the progressive left in America – the Founders and how they dealt (or didn’t) with slavery.
The left will argue that the high-minded talk about liberty is moot because slavery could exist – but the Founders decided that the greater good could not be advanced if there was no union among the several states. They believed (and this is not just my interpretation, this is seen in their preserved letters and documents) that slavery was an evil but one that was also coming to an end. While they accepted the fact that the abolition of slavery was not possible in 1776, they established a governmental system based on principles that would lead to a time when slavery could be abandoned, when the principle that “all men are created equal” would eventually win out.
Was it an ideal situation?
No – but without pragmatism, there would have been no United States.
I have observed one significant difference between classical liberals (conservatives) and contemporary liberals (progressives). From my viewpoint as a classical liberal, I spend a great deal of time constantly examining and questioning what I believe in the quest to understand what is real and true. Progressives never seem to do that – their time is spent questioning, ridiculing and attacking what I believe while accepting the most absurd beliefs as the basis for that questioning and ridicule.
If you notice how this works, there are those people whose actions are determined by principle – their actions are guided by core beliefs grounded in reality – and then there are those whose principles are determined by their actions – they do what they want and then work backwards to construct something to justify those actions.
This is how we get the “ends justify the means” of gender fluidity, imagined racism and bigotry (which dilutes the real acts of racism and bigotry), #metoo and pussy hats. This is how you get a president who, despite not acting in a racist manner, is accused of being a racist for thousands of imagined reasons. This is how you get conservative speakers shouted down for being racist, misogynistic, and bigoted simply because they are white (and the dial is turned up to a Nigel Tufnelian 11 if they are black). This is how you get Ivy League schools trying to justify policies of “inclusion” and “diversity” even as the actively discriminate against Asian students.
Basing your actions on perceptions of history may result in short term wins but principles always win in the long term – even if a culture or civilization is driven to collapse to reset the clock. The one thing about history is this – no matter how desperately people delude themselves, if it has happened in the past, it can (and likely will) happen again.