On Progress and Historical Change

Ada Palmer — novelist, singer, historian — just dropped a 10,000 word essay on the nature of progress and historical change that has provided some of the most significant perspective on our own strange moment that I’ve yet to read — and in so doing, has provided a set of mental tools for figuring out how to survive 2017 and beyond.

Palmer starts by reviewing the nature of “progress” and its relationship to “Whig history,” a belief-system that holds that things generally progress towards a better world, with missteps and dead-ends on the way (“apple seeds into apple trees, humans into enlightened humans, human societies into liberal democratic paradises”) — an idea that pervades our modern conception of progress.

On Progress and Historical Change

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