Orwell’s Warning: New Article at FEE
How can we explain 2016? Is it really the end of the world? What happened to “progress?” What happened to “togetherness?” Aren’t we all one big family?
Perhaps we are in an idealistic sense. But that doesn’t mean history will follow the desire to make it true in a real sense. Economic conditions matter. Human pride matters. Security matters. Cultural cohesion matters. If these elements begin to falter, a lot of bad things can happen. In my latest article for The Foundation for Economic Education, I reference George Orwell’s review of Mein Kampf (Hitler’s famous memoir) to show why we shouldn’t be naive about the inevitability of progress:
As the generation who lived through it passes away, we lose touch with the animating forces of the 1930s. This gives us the luxury to think of it like a movie, with a plot we can interpret, create distance from and try to forget. We comfort ourselves with the false notion that only insane people can do terrible things, that the German people must have been under some mass hypnosis that allowed for Kristallnacht, Blitzkrieg and Auschwitz. Surely people could never see it as in their best interest to usher in (in Orwell’s words) “a horrible brainless empire in which, essentially, nothing ever happens except the training of young men for war and the endless breeding of fresh cannon-fodder.” Finally, we desperately reassure ourselves that, “I would have acted differently.”
You can read the whole thing here.
Let’s hope for the best in 2017. But let’s not have any petty illusions either.