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Guest Thinkers

How History Progresses

Is history repeating itself? Professor of English Alan Jacobs draws parallels between the moral development of 18th century England and our own post-modern times.

I think it’s fair to say that most of us living in America today assume that, as we like to put it, “you can’t turn back the clock,” that history always and inevitably moves in a liberalizing direction. And we think that whether we consider such “liberalizing” as the epitome of good or the embodiment of evil or something in between. It seems to be endemic to Americans to embrace the “Whig interpretation of history”, that is, to see the whole of history as marching inexorably towards us, to see everything culminating in ourselves—whether we happen to like that culmination or not.


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