Crimes committed in the name of progress
In a fascinating review in the Times Literary Supplement, I read the following: 'When Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, he took with him not just troops, but a whole academy of historians, topographers, mathematicians and archaeologists.
'His invasion was (among other things) an attempt to appropriate a whole country, its ancient art and science as well as its modern territories and resources.'
Then I read of what the Chinese are doing in Tibet and it seemed very similar: using force to bring 'progress' to a 'backward country', an activity not that different from what Russia is doing in Chechnya and the US and Britain in Iraq, the difference being that each of the invading countries gives its own meaning to the horrible term.
What crimes have been committed in the name of progress! The idea is that any society not in a permanent state of change is somehow stagnant, fit only for the knacker's yard. Other countries are doing it a good turn by breaking and entering in the name of progress: communist progress, fascist progress and liberal progress, the last of which has done more dispatching of so-called backward societies to the knacker's yard than any other.
Goering is meant to have said, "When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my revolver." I do the same on hearing the word 'progress', which in Britain's case has meant women's lib, gay pride, human rights, social equality, binge drinking, etc etc.
Beware progress. It is just as much a curse as a blessing; bad enough when adopted voluntarily, but almost certainly lethal when imposed from outside. ·
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