The past was never as good as it now looks. Just as we forget, as we age, the emotional pains childhood (only to revisit them as we watch our children suffer through the same experience), history tends to take on a romantic patina.
Sure, in the pre-industrial age, the countryside was a thing of exquisite, green beauty. Who cares that the vast majority of the world’s citizens lived a marginal existence on the land, dependent for their survival on the success of each annual harvest?
Ooh! Ooh! And what about horses? They are, like, sooo organic. Who cares, therefore, that the big cities were ankle deep in horse urine and fecal matter, with all the attendant stench and disease?
Also, who can forget that, in the old days, before America’s evil medicine establishment appeared, medicine was affordable and doctors made house calls. Let’s just ignore the fact that the pre-modern childhood mortality rate was 50%, that a significant number of women died in childbirth, or that few people reach old age.
In our short, ill-educated memories, the anguish of the past has vanished, and all that remains are images of a quieter, greener age, untainted by colonialism, corporatism, and all the other ills of the modern era.
Although the environmentalists, especially, cling to an unreal, rural, Utopian past, the Left generally looks backwards. All wars are the Vietnam War, all political movements see their side blessed with the halo of the Civil Rights movement. I wrote about the Regressives at length a few years ago for American Thinker:
The word “progressive” means to advocate beneficial change and progress, and that’s certainly what Progressives would have the American people believe they offer.
By giving themselves this label, however, the Progressives have proven yet again that there’s no delusion quite as powerful as self-delusion. The fact is that, if you pick apart each of the Progressives’ stands on any major issue of the day, you’ll see that either they have staked out positions that were either proven false or ineffective decades ago, or they’re still fighting battles that were long ago won, making their efforts redundant (yet still, somehow, harmful to the modern political process).
I was reminded of this old article when I read a post Ed Driscoll did yesterday at Pajamas Media. What he had noticed is that the Left is now explicitly advocating a walk into the WayBack machine. Whether they want to revisit the 1930s, the Oughts, or the pre-light bulb era, they keep serenading the past.
Ed expounded upon this theme today (with a nice nod to my old American Thinker article), by noting the fact that Sarah Palin is wreaking havoc with the Leftists’ obsession with a Utopian past. I urge you to read both his articles. Once you do, you’ll never again be flim-flammed by the futurist language the Left attempts to employ. (And just for your own amusement, consider that the title “Progressive” is itself borrowed from the socialist politics of the pre-WWI era.)