The Euphemism of Change=Progress – An essay on contemporary mentality

«The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.»

– Charles Kettering

What has been prompted as the main salvation, of and for, the entire world since the decennia of and since the 70’s, is the concepts of change with henceforth necessary (though illusory) progress. One has come to think that change can be controlled, planned and dispersed at own will -which of course is just yet another illusory thought on change. Through discussing and applying the quote above, and a text from Focus Magazine, The Giver, I will explore and elucidate some concepts and thoughts on change and progress with a special focus on how the concepts have been used and applied since the 1960’s.

Jonas, the character from the text in Focus Magazine, The Giver, lives in a static society whereas nothing ever, ever, varies, nor changes. And with due course, without change it makes impossible to discern then from when. And so forth, without the concept of the ‘then’ there’s no memory. But in the text, Jonas is given exclusively chosen to experience the knowledge of that there some time was a’then’ which has somehow changed into the now.

At first glance one may depreciate Jonas’ society as totally irrelevant or of any importance. because «Sure,» one may think «this pertains not to today’s society at all, because in our society everything is in constant change.» However, such a conclusion may only be reached by one who fails to see the relentlessness and ferocity in change. It cannot and will not be under control by any person on this earth – or moon for that matter. As said, change has been seen since the 70’s as the necessary precedent of progress, and the other way around – but no better – that progress by necessity follows change. And one has mistakenly come to think that the power vested in change was bequeathed to oneself after the downfall of the patriarchal society. However what the protagonists of this line of thought fails to see, is that change may be static.

Due to his misinterpretation of change and progress it has become so that it is extraordinary difficult to differentiate between (culture-)radicals and conservatives, because, today they’re often both at the same time! This comes also from the happenings around and since the downfall of the patriarchal society of the early nineteen-hundreds: Since the notion ‘radical’ requires one being an outsider – in opposition – it does become a bit bizarre when those who once where the radical protestors has become insiders and still desperately clingers to their belief in themselves as radicals. Then we have ourselves a political constellation whereas the establishment robs the opposition of the opportunity and legitimacy of being radical, henceforth making oneself conservative, if not orthodox, radicals (see for further reading; »Tenured Radicals»).

I find the quote above of by Kettering a bit hard to understand if not ambiguous. Although in peril of misinterpretation, I will nonetheless interpret his quote as if he meant people when writing world. In the quote by Kettering he surely acknowledges the fact that humans have a propensity towards seeking comfort, security, let alone stability, and also tend to go quite far in its methods to maintain it (see: appeasement). In spite of this I cannot for sure place the quote by Kettering as corroboration for my analyze in coining the leaders, i.e the insiders of Norway, as conservative-radicals (e.g; the editor of Aftenposten was once a marxist-leninist, but is today editor of one of Norway’s biggest paper, like many other of her generation who realized that ‘violent revolution’ didn’t cut it, so they rather chose positions where they could continue their work in educating the proletariat).

I interpret the last part of Kettering’s quote as if he means that there is nothing nor anyone who can og may alternate this world toward progress besides man. God will help us do it, but not do it for us. Some have made the attempt, to ‘falsify’ this, by making progress a matter of following a plan, e.g.; the plan of the Qur’an leading to the caliphate, the communist plan for a classless society or NSDAP’s – the nazis – plan for a racially hygienic Third Reich. All of these have in common the fact that they no longer believe in the will of man to make progress, but have rather transferred this to the doing og some (transcendent) plan i.e ideology. A more modern example of this ‘planning fallacy’ is made by the European Union. Roger Scruton writes of EU in his book «The Uses of Pessimism and the Danger of False Hope»:

The most basic rule of law-making – that flaws can be corrected – is absent from the European [Union] legal process. At the same time the European Court of Justice, which is supposed to rule on all conflicts created by the European legal process, is expressly called upon to advance the project of an ‘ever closer union’, and will therefore, in any case where judicial discretion or innovation is needed look to that project for guiding principle. This is indeed required of it by the EU’s doctrine demanding the ‘sincere mutual cooperation’ of institutions within the union.

What the erudition of change and progress may teach us about society is that true change never lies in the hands of the ruling party or the ‘insiders’. Nazism, communism and Islam has all in common the appraisal and exaltation of the system and the allegiance to it. Hence, when speaking of the critics of the system one will never hear respect nor acknowledgement but rather the rhetoric on how the critics are sand in the cogwheels, party-poopers or in some other way, enemy of the Plan which by necessity induces the good, et voila, you have created yourself an effective way which handles impediments like (retarded) critics who doesn’t understand that the caliphate is the only possible good for the people. How does one explain this ostracism to the people? One says e.g; «… because they [the critics] are dismantling the trust and power of the state/caliphate which it so desperately is in need of to sustain order and the good.» This is the rhetoric one could hear when Siv Jensen, leader of the opposition party Fremskrittspartiet, was commented  on by a journalist in Dagbladet, Stein Aabø. He spoke explicitly of how preposterous it was of Siv Jensen to ever criticize ‘the Norwegian model’ as she calls it, because she dismantles the trust of the state:

«Trust is the hallmark of the Norwegian model. Trust between unions and employers. Trust between citizens and authorities. This trust has FRP done their utmost to break down. The party has become great by representing a popular protest against the system and capturing in itself the general discontent of the public. It helps of course to break the trust of the system and increasing contempt for the political elite.»

The journalists of Norway no longer scents what is amiss. So mundane has this rhetoric become among those who feel content with the status quo that they no longer care for even the smallest of subtleness in their ‘critique’ of their opponents, it’s so that it seems that they no longer view the likes of Siv Jensen merely as opponents worth respect, acknowledgement and critique but sees them rather in the light of being adversaries. That she, Jensen, in effect is proclaimed and presented in public as ‘enemy of the state’ is irrelevant because she is a threat to all good – the welfare state, which Arbeiderpartiet has copyright on etc. – and makes perfect as for target whenever the journalists sense the need of being ‘critical’, so they at least may feel a bit like journalists.

Another accomplice in making the concepts of change and progress increasingly derailed from their place of meaning have been the authors of textbooks in history. As pupil I have myself experienced and been through the history classes whereas everything is merely presented as if one long planned out progression. It would be understandable if there were only some who fell prey to this tempting and easy and tempting fallacy of pretending like history is nothing more than one long trek of progress, but alas, it is not some, this is the case for most textbooks in history and is the most pervasive illusion in all of contemporary academia. As following, this makes history the most boring subject of all, only second to math for some. Were we, pupils ever introduced to controversy and the thought of that things can and could have changed for the worse, then it could have been an interesting subject, but in history classes controversy is anathema. We are never asked to discuss why or how Europe became the leading continent in all meaningful ways after the fifteen-hundreds – it is based on a tautology from the eurocentrism in the Western world that tells us merely that it is a presumption which we’re all just ought to understand.

Rewriting history with a new one-dimensional approach makes certain facts about our past utterly misfitting to the ‘change=progress thougt’. Historical heroes has been one of those things which prompts misfitting controversy, which hence has forcefully been through the process of being simplified untill all that’s left is a picture of good looking and moral idols, rather than normally flawed persons. In his book «The Lies My Teacher Told Me» James Loewen writes:

«They [the authors of textbooks in history] portray the past as simply a morality play. ‘Be a good citizen’ is the message that textbooks extract from the past. ‘You have a proud heritage. Be all you can be. After all, look at what the United States has accomplished.’ While there is nothing wrong with optimism, it can be something of a burden for students of colour, children of working class parents, girls who notice the dearth of female historical figures, or members of any group that has not achieved socio-economic success.»

This way we will never find the human components which we seek to embrace as qualities to look up to. If we cannot see the likeness in history preceding us, how may we then ever look to history as any serious source of learning, especially something which could pertain to our lives. The result is alas, a generation without historical connotations. Maybe isn’t it then an all to big wonder that some, like Niall Ferguson, names Europe an elegy. W. E. B. du Bois writes in «Black Reconstruction» (1964):

«One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmered over. We must not remember that Daniel Webster got drunk but only remember that he was a splendid lawyer. We must forget that George Washington was a slave owner … and simply remember the things we regard as creditable and inspiring. The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy, is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect men and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth.»

When society has abandoned its historic honesty and hence lost the ability to learn from it, we seem doomed to forever repeat history. Change and progress is key concepts in understanding how the West today is deceiving itself. As Cameron said just after the murder of an english soldier in the streets of Whoolwich, England, by an Islamist; «This is a betrayal of Islam, and has nothing with Islam to do.» he proves that once again are we skipping the hornet’s nest of problems, and creates thus an appeasement policy, adequate only in maintaining a temporary and artificial silence around a certain subject, which in this case is Islam. He still believes the power of change is in his hands and believes his ideology to be tantamount to the good progress of England. But inevitably, what he’s doing, is creating a vacuum of unspoken problems and laments of the people – which of course English Defence League and the like, wholeheartedly finds the will to grasp, with next to monopoly.

Dette var min innlevering i engelsk skriftelig eksamen, for 10. klasse. Jeg fikk karakteren 5, med 6 som mulig toppkarakter.

This was my answer for written English exam in 10th grade. I was graded to 5 on a scale where 6 is top grade.

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