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We’ll make a lengthy digression into social justice issues, showing how some traditional societies were actually more enlightened than our own in this area.Having judged past societies positively, we’ll then look at what aspects of their cultures, governments, and religions made them so successful, and whether we could adopt those to modern life.The imperial Chinese thought nothing could beat imperial China, the medieval Spaniards thought medieval Spain was a singularly impressive example of perfection, and Communist Soviets were pretty big on Soviet Communism.Meanwhile, we think 21st-century Western civilization, with its democracy, secularism, and ethnic tolerance is pretty neat.We’ll start with the meta-level question of how confident we should be that our society is better than its predecessors in important ways.Then we’ll look on the object level about how we compare to past societies along dimensions we might care about.
– * – * – * – No One Expects The Spanish Inquisition, Especially Not In 21st Century America People in ancient societies thought their societies were obviously great.It’s simply more efficient and harder to overthrow.Reaction isn’t a conspiracy theory; it’s not suggesting there’s a secret campaign for organized repression.They seem to be saying things that are either morally repugnant or utterly ridiculous.And when I ask them to explain, they say it’s complicated and there’s no one summary of their ideas. ” Part of me secretly thinks part of the answer is that a lot of these beliefs are not argument but poetry.
I originally planned to follow this up tomorrow with the post containing my arguments against these positions, but this argument took longer than I thought to write and I expect the counterargument will as well.