436. Progress (X)
“Presentism” has long been identified has a problem in the contemporary West, although, given its nature, presumably nobody has the historical memory to recall that people have complained about presentism for decades—certainly at least since The Closing of the American Mind. Presentism inverts the eternal now found in Buddhism and other mystical traditions; it is the tendency to live ahistorically and so to be constantly surprised when events that are predictable to those who study history take place, or, alternatively, to be easily gulled by propaganda—to think that, just like it says on the telly, that there were black vikings and strong female warriors in the past.
Historically-minded people understand, for example, how Churchill was concerned that Britain should remain white post-WWII; although the Churchill image is bruited about in mainstream propaganda as “anti-Nazi” and “anti-racist”. The sentiment Churchill expressed would be classified as “Nazi”: we fought WWII so Britain would no longer be white, so it would be “a nation of immigrants” (correction, it always was) and become “diverse”. Anti-Nazi Churchill could not possibly want a white Britain; that is not what the telly box and the nice men from the neoconservative think tank told me.
Presentism also holds that everything from about three decades ago was hopelessly reactionary, whereas today we have progressed: women in the 1950s were strictly disciplined and lived in suburban purdah akin to Afghanistan; really, as they popped out child after child—being practically helpless and illiterate—they were desperately unhappy and necked pep pills to stave off suicidal thoughts. The fact that women entered the work force en masse in WWII and that contemporary films were soaked with feminist themes is lost on presentism. For the presentist, all that exists is today’s propaganda message; and the message says, “We must progress; we don’t want to go back to 1950.” We must not go back to the time when straight white men did sinister things to other people: this attitude spawned the cry, “It’s 2016!”, during Brexit—for the brainwashed presentist it is “current year” and in “current year” this is what we do, since we have progressed and so current year is self-evidently good.
The fact that much the same propaganda has been spewed out for decades is lost on the presentist. There were people in 1950 who roughly said, “It’s not 1890, you know,” and progressive talking points were already in evidence in 1890—soon I expect to hear “how hard it was for women in the 1990s, before feminism”. The attitude is connected to the view that societies improve by default, so that 2021 is automatically better than 2016—though rationally there is no reason why this should be; and this is integral to the progressive belief system, partly inherited from Marxism: the view that history has a direction and the direction is to the good; ironically, people who think this know as little about actual historical events as possible.
Presentism is connected to feminisation; as Spengler observed, women are ahistorical; they are like plants, every woman is really the same woman—the grass grows and dies and it is more or less the same in 1500 and 2020. Men, by contrast, are definite individuals and so have a history: men do not live in a perpetual present—man separates himself from nature, differentiates himself and becomes unique.
There will be no man exactly like Alexander the Great or Napoleon—yet all women are much the same in all ages. Men are strategists and think in the long-term—they think historically, whereas women are immediate hedonists; hence the consumer society is a presentist society, YOLO is its slogan—you only live once, and not in the sense that you must remember you must die. Rather, the sentiment is that you should spend it all now: burn it up irresponsibly, there is only nature’s perpetual now—not the eternal spiritual now—and you might as well use it up. Unless you are a Nazi, or whatever.