When I started this blog, I wholeheartedly embraced the future promises of a new and better world. And it’s not that strange, many people share that view. Over time, however, the idea of advancement and progressivism became increasingly stained and criticized.
What do you do when you forever believe that the future has all the solutions at hand, whether it be interstellar cruisers, fusion reactors or the development of society? And maybe these thoughts are not too far away. They are possible, and they are within reach. I really want to go there.
Progressivism is about movement, while conservative and reactionary forces want to slow down or stop the movement. The real question may be about where the progressives are heading, and what do the Conservatives want to stop? And whether the creation of the new requires the destruction of the old?
The distinction between scientific and political progressivism may be obvious, although sometimes confused. In practice, we could have a conservative Austro-Hungarian aristocracy exploring space and building bases on Mars. Where the large space cruisers were sanctified by the Archbishop before their maiden voyage, the fusion power plants were built in Neo-Art Nouveau style, and the space suits looked like deep-sea armor in a book by Jules Verne.
Or? Do politics and science always follow each other? Does progressivism in one direction inevitably lead to progressivism in the other?
Perhaps a powerful scientific development is contaminating the social structures? Society also wants to be efficient and well-groomed, like a machine. Man becomes like a cog in the huge gearbox. You forget all the old, and you respect the new, the constant change and the efficiency. Always ahead, will become the key word. And the spirit of the time affects the aesthetics, the culture and the social order.
Unfortunately, political progressivism has repeatedly shown an unusually destructive nature. Fascism, National Socialism, and Soviet Communism were all children of progressivism. Society would be renegotiated and the perfect citizen would be hatched in the new Utopia. They were all wrong, and became abnormal tumors in history, that today we hardly want to talk about. And we have seen enough of this even in our country, with countless old town centers being torn down, and replaced by box architecture, where the new socialist workers’ heroes would live. Sweden has long been a political project, and it may still be. The hospitals look like factories, and now you have to stand in line to come in to be repaired. Are you a number or a person? Or an EU citizen? We should be on our guard. Political progressivism is treacherous.
What about general scientific advancement, is it always bad? Well, even such a daunting invention as the atomic bomb had its advantages. Since we are all afraid of total annihilation, we have managed to avoid large-scale wars for 75 years. Of course, there may be dangers of engineered viruses and diseases, and increasingly powerful weapons of mass destruction, etc. But I could enumerate even more good things that science has given us, which have made our lives easier, saved us from diseases and poverty.
Pure scientific progressivism is not bad. Most of what we invent is good. There is a human will to create good and improve the world. And we lock the bad inventions into the wardrobe so we don’t have to see them, such as the atomic bomb. It has only been used twice in war. And until the day we open the closet at the gable, there is no need to be reflexively afraid of new technology. There is no reason to become a Luddite.
Today, we have ended up in a strange and Assymeric situation, where the politically progressive forces (the left and the environmental movement) often turn against the scientific belief in progress. Nuclear power should be discontinued, they are critical of consumption, crop processing, stem cell research, genetic research, etc. Things that in many ways would solve many of the left’s problems, such as environmental degradation, poverty, etc. Political progressivism is no longer progressive, but instead represents forces that want to prevent and stop development. Some conservative and reactionary movements also share this criticism. The left and the right unite in their reluctance to strive for the scientific horizon. We also live in a time of stagnation; the inventions are not as numerous as at the turn of the last century, and the enthusiasm has many times been replaced by fear. Our culture is more introvert than extrovert.
Perhaps the simple lesson of humanity is the following, that of course we should strive forward, though not rush too quickly in blindness? Societies should grow organically over time, where old customs and habits are observed, where traditional rights and obligations are respected, without central planning and social engineering. The old should not automatically be washed away to replace the diffuse new one. And, yes, I would like to see a Habsburg space empire.