[This article is excerpted from a talk delivered on February 22, 2020 at the Austrian Student Scholars Conference, hosted by Grove City College in Pennsylvania.]
“…Presentism is the ahistorical and arrogant insistence on interpreting past events, historical figures, and existing bodies of knowledge by the supposedly enlightened standard of our time—standards which shift so rapidly that today’s wokest enforcers are tomorrow’s victims of the mob.
Presentism is at the core of the progressive worldview, which insists the past is alway retrograde, the present is always better but still deeply imperfect, and the future has an ultimately happy deterministic arc. It is one manifestation of the hubris which comes from imagining we live in a unique time, and a uniquely enlightened time.
Presentism is the hallmark of the imagined economics smart set: the Paul Krugmans, Christine Lagardes, Thomas Pikettys, Noah Smiths, and Benyamin Appelbaums of today. The economics they advocate—mostly in blogs, social media, financial news shows, or pop books, and never in treatises—is sui generis, unique to them. It’s their own economics, created out of whole cloth by them individually, supposedly scientific and brand new to suit today’s world. It’s a New Economics for 2020. And of course they all insist they’re merely following and interpreting the data, going where it takes them. After all, they’re scientists!”
Treating history and events of the past as if they were written or spoken today or occurred today “gave way to the secular view of its [history] ceaseless evolution…and SECULARISM”