We intuitively understand that technological progress is possible even if it carries danger. It may not be inevitable, but it’s possible and for the most part we believe it will happen.
We all know driver-less cars are around the corner and not just metaphorically.
What about moral progress?
Here we are less sure. We look back on our predecessors and mock their ignorance. At least the ones from 500 years or more ago.
But we also look around and see war and poverty, slavery and crime and despair. Suffering that makes a mockery of what human life should be. All still unfortunately with us.
Yet there are signs of progress everywhere. And we hold up with pride our superiority over the past. That’s why we call them the dark ages.
For sure there are those on the right who see every societal change as a decent from known certainties. Degeneration from a workable past. But the recent past seems simple just because it is over and done with in a way the present is not. It’s easy to slip into thoughts of decline.
Moral progress is just as uncertain as the technological kind. Yet it has been just as powerful.
It is reasonable to presume that future generations will look back on us and see us as primitives. Both technologically and morally so.
What might be considered laughable another 1,000 years from now?
- That we drove machines on the ground and tolerated a high death rate for doing so.
- That there was once such a silly notion as discrimination on the basis of skin colour.
- That it took so long for the world to become more equal.
- That we raised whole industries of animals and used them for food and pleasure.
- That economies were geared to creating unnecessary needs.
That’s my list, what’s yours?
Primitive Times, Matt, Oct 2016