Historicism, as this humble author understands it, is the belief that nations advance along a pre-selected historical timeline towards there eventual end. It assumes that each nation is locked into its path to its endpoint and that there is nothing anyone can do about it which is why we are constantly told by the far left that no person can have any idea outside a society’s own unique culture. Any thought an individual had simply did not originate from their own minds but from society’s own collective thought pool and the particular period in which we are suppose to be deriving those thoughts from are always the tiny segment on the historical timeline in which we happen to exist on in the present. It establishes that we are powerless to think anything other than what the historical moment dictates.
The natural result is that our thinking naturally evolves to a more perfect state as history moves forward. The eventual end was what that society was always advancing towards which was its own perfection but since each society has its own historicist timeline then each nation is advancing towards its version of perfection. This establishes an almost religious way of thinking within that society in that it establishes that there is a perfection that exists within that society and that good and evil is always defined as how close a person is to that end. This is why conservatism is linked to all of our nation’s evils while progressivism (liberals) is linked with those undoing those evils. They see themselves as undoing the old which is always evil and ushering in the new which is always the good since it brings our nation closer to its eventual end in which our society will reach perfection.
The problem with this is that each society had its own unique historical path which would eventually lead them to unique utopias. This sets each nation in natural conflict with another over who has the best idea about how humanity should live. Since there can only be one correct idea that is superior to all others then, by a matter of natural selection among nations, the nation with the best idea would vanquish all others.
Individualist thinking accommodates conflicting interest among individuals within a society but historicist thinking creates a sense that nations were like individuals within a greater society of other nations. The only entities that were allowed to conflict with another were the collectives themselves and not the individuals within them. This was because no individual could possibly think of any idea outside its own society’s predestined historical path. Under this thinking, the individual person was simply powerless to exist and faded away in favor of the collective ‘person’ of the nation.
This was the beginning of nationalism and it is easy to spot this among neo-conservatives because they like a strong military for the sake of being the strongest. They see the world of nations as competitors for that end spot and because of that they must ensure there own survival for that end. This can be thought of as classical nationalism which is the natural result of seeing all nations as competitors with one another.
Unfortunately, we easily miss the nationalism often displayed by the left (which happens to be the dominant form of nationalism practiced in our society today) because we are trained to think of nationalism as being militaristic. The left invokes historicism by saying things like ‘look what other countries are doing’ or ‘other countries have national health care so why don’t we’. They then bitch and complain about how far behind this country is when compared to other countries (doesn’t that sound like a race?). They then pull out stats about how much healthier they are in such a way that implies that there is some kind of international competition going on.
It’s as if there is a race to see who is going to be the healthiest but who declared that there was a race in the first place and why does each individual within society have to participate in that race? The answers to these questions can be found when we properly understand the effect that historicism has on societies. It turns the course of each nation into a race to their pre-selected endpoint and since each nation has its own unique end then the nation with the best idea would eliminate all other nations simply because superior ideas naturally defeat inferior ones.
The fear of eventual elimination is what drives the nationalistic impulse on both sides and that fear places a lot of pressure on individuals to exert their efforts for their nation’s interest rather than for their own. In this thinking, individuals unconsciously function in the same way they would if their nation was in a state of war in that they give up their own individual self-interested pursuits in favor of the nation’s own collective pursuits.
Even though the original progressive movement has been over with for over a century (some say it is still going) the historicist impulse has been deeply planted into our own psyche. We can see evidence for this because the historicist argument is still a powerful argument to this day. How many times have we heard ‘other nations are gaining on us’, ‘other nations are doing it’, or ‘other nations have better health care systems and live longer’, and similar blah, blah, blah?
No one bothers to place the argument around the proper context of the individual and their interest. Instead, each side states their argument around how it affects the interest of the whole and not the interest of the individual. It is as if the separate interest of the individuals within the whole has managed to fade away in our modern political debate and that those unique interest do not come into play for nationalist of either side.
The proper response to any collectivist arguments is—WHO CARES! As in, who cares if we are not better than another ‘collective’. It is time for each and every individual to opt out of the race between collectives and join the race between individuals within the collective. When we compete on that level then the sovereignty of each individual is maintained since we are racing for our own pursuit instead of the collective pursuit.