Archive for September 18th, 2009
One of the themes of this blog is temporal provincialism. This is the absolute conviction by each generation that every other generation fooled itself, but this one has it right. Today everyone talks about how the religious Inquisition was obviously wrong. But everybody is convinced we cannot have anything similar today because it would be obvious to the intellectuals.
The lesson of the Inquisition is that a fundamental error only occurs when the priesthood agrees with it. At that it never occurred to the clergy that a mistake could not be systemic unless THEY allowed it to be part of the system. They assumed that what they and their colleagues greed to in their wisdom was right.
Every generation makes exactly the same assumption. And every generation is wrong.
Including this one.
There is a battle going on over free speech. Like every generation that had exactly the same debate, this one thinks it is different. So there is never any debate about whether the “bigots” might have a, any more than any other generation ever considered that the heretics of its time might have a point. The agreement was always that they were absolutely wrong and useless and the only question was whether they should be tolerated.
If you understand temporal provincialism you will see that in every generation this agreement has been the problem. Free speech has a practical value, but only because what is most absolutely agreed on in any generation not only can be wrong, but almost certainly IS wrong.
Today all authorities who are allowed to publish, much less those who are PAID to do so, agree that any discussion of racial differences is entirely evil. It’s only there to hurt minorities, right?
Logically if you look at history the way all the historians THINK they do, you would expect that the most agreed-upon assumption is where our weakness is. But due to temporal provincialism, no generation EVER looks THERE.