The Future and its Critics: This post is dedicated to the brilliant John Stuart Mill…. Every now and then, it seems, the blogosphere plunges into deep introspection of all that we think to be holy: technology, growth, and even utopian prosperity. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has a piece about “Robot Overlords” and the more-optimistic Matt Yglesias can’t help but go long on beachfront property. A while back, I wrote about technology at the end of history, and I think I got one thing absolutely right:
Yet, when reading Fukuyama’s gripping essay years ago, I had one big qualification, a fleeting hope for the end of history. Ideological struggle is romantic for those of us who sit in comfort and liberty. For the scholars who write in the dimmed halls of Harvard. For the man of letters in Lamont Library; or better the Bodleian. For the precocious high schoolers who fawn on every dripping word from their history teacher. But for the many who are in the throes of historical struggle, there is nothing poetic. For the Russians who were slave to the Gulag, the romanticism of Wilson’s To the Finland Station, is but a Western concoction of reality, beautifully written for the scholar…. For the small actors in history, the girls murdered by Taliban and the dissidents silenced by Communists, the real victory would be a textbook of history blank after today….