Most Read: Opinions

direct signup

Join a Discussion

There are no discussions scheduled today.

Weekly schedule, past shows

Tom Toles
Posted at 07:15 AM ET, 05/03/2012

The End of History, Part II

There was the History of the World, Part I, then there was the End of History, Part I. These do not exactly match up, though both turned out to be works of fiction. Now the facts. Facts used to add up to history, but now they are just raw materials in the mediascape maw of new things to take a Take on. Actual history no longer exists. Here’s why.

History was never just a collection of facts. Students everywhere have learned one thing over the millennia, that facts are boring. Facts only become interesting when they are knitted together into something useful. What’s useful about historical facts? Historical facts have always served the purpose of defining a society and establishing the norms under which it operates. This has always been a bit of a clever, self-serving game, but not an entirely malign one. But it tends to operate when there is a society static enough to define and establish norms for. Not so much do we have that now.

The technological revolution that currently rules our world really picked up speed around, well let’s say 2000, for ‘historical’ purposes. It is now moving fast enough that there’s no point in even trying to define it. Any definition will be obsolete before you reach the period in your sentence. Norms? Try using historical evidence to answer the question of how to guide and manage genetic or biochemical enhancement of intelligence, for just one example. No, we are in an ever-accelerating vehicle now, and events in the mirror are farther than they appear.

By  |  07:15 AM ET, 05/03/2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company