The Right Side of History - Who is on it?

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who is on the right side of history

  • Merkel, Macron, Obama, Zuckerberg, et al

    Votes: 10 10.8%
  • Drumpf, Putin, Orban, et al

    Votes: 19 20.4%
  • the Chinese will pick up the pieces after the West self-immolates

    Votes: 64 68.8%

  • Total voters
    93

millais

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It seems to me that there is a strong air of self-righteous inevitability to the arguments of the modern ideological progressive wing and their allies in the neo-liberal corporate establishment in that they will ultimately be vindicated by history. I think you see this superficially manifested in the appeals to [Current Year] and that kind of thing, but at a deeper level they are often trying to legitimise themselves as the sole rightful inheritors of the moral authority of the last generation to fight real fascists and authoritarians who were undoubtedly on the right side of history. In their eyes, the current wave of populist, nationalist, protectionist backlash is only a temporary but worrying setback for the inexorable march of progress towards some kind of multi-kulti, open borders, humanitarian global utopia centered on a democratic Transatlantic axis. On the other side, the backlash is viewed not as a transient symptom of a troubled world but rather the decisive turning point for the reversal of the same process.

Who is right? Who will win the kulturkampf for the Western democracies?

I am unconvinced of the merits and reasoning of all the neo-liberal arguments, but the appeal to the extrapolation of historical trends in the shared politic discourse of the 20th century Western democracies is a powerful one, and the uncompromising air of moral superiority seems to severely limit further room for reasoned opposition. On the other hand, when the historical trend is viewed in terms of the gradual devolution of the post-Cold War order of sole-superpower American hegemony to a more traditional multipolar great power model, it seems reasonable to posit a general turn towards nationalist protectionism and the fracturing of the Transatlantic supranational axis, with simultaneous erosion of some of the progressive and neo-liberal values represented by that axis.

I am not too confident about my odds of accurately picking the winning side, though if I had to hazard a guess, I would say the deck is stacked in favor of the existing neo-liberal establishment. They enjoy the benefits of a half-century of incumbency in power and a strong strategic alliance with the global corporate interests and the mouthpieces of popular media. It is definitely an uphill battle for the other side, and while I am tempted to fully cast in my lot with them and empathize with their struggle, I often feel it would be far more prudent to sit it out and wait for more incontrovertible signs of a decisive turning point in the historical trend.
 

TowinKarz

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"Right side of history" is the leftie version of "God says I'm right" , nothing more.

A belief that they are, as you point out, the only people moral enough to be entrusted with power, and those who oppose them do so not because they have questions and concerns about this supposed utopia we are on the cusp of, but because they are evil.

The fact it's en vogue now just shows they're about to tumble over the precipice, since the religious right was at its most strident about the supposed moral rot of America as it was collapsing amidst the very SJW-like tendency to see agents of immorality everywhere in media, from board games to music, and ultimately undid themselves by crusading to the point of farce with their panicking over video games with alleged satanic symbolism even if portrayed negatively, or TV shows with single moms in them even if portrayed positively.

The pendulum swings, and I feel the latest rejection of progressivism is a return to a more centrist path that was due for some time now.

Funny thing about history, it has to BE history before anyone can claim a win.
 

Sperglord Dante

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I don't like coflating neo-liberalism with the moralistic modern left, not because I consider either of them unworthy of the shittiness of the other, but because neo-liberalism will eventually ditch the facade and continue to exist after social justice, bathroom bills and white guilt go out of fashion. Even if society moves to a centrist/center-right position I don't see protectionism trumping over international free trade. We won't stop buying cheap shit from Asians any time soon.
 

Alec Benson Leary

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A belief that they are, as you point out, the only people moral enough to be entrusted with power, and those who oppose them do so not because they have questions and concerns about this supposed utopia we are on the cusp of, but because they are evil.
What depresses me is that these kind of people do not believe in democracy or free expression, but will never admit it. If you try to ask them what freedom actually means to them, then you're just another one of those evil people.

Now, Trump's win shows that sticking their fingers in their ears and going "la la la can't hear you" surprisingly doesn't actually stop people they don't like. But there are members of their crowd smart enough to start looking for effective ways to disenfranchise people. There always are.

I agree completely with OP. There can't be a right side of history until it actually is history. Claiming the mantle is just another way of saying "I'm always right, anything I haven't considered isn't worth considering". Only silver lining is that history will reveal a bunch of marginalized people directly hurt by today's enlightened slacktivist liberals who love complaining about western imperialism but won't change one thing about their own wasteful lifestyle. They're all Al Gore in their fancy private jets cursing the little people for driving cars to work so they can feed themselves, they don't know that history will eventually start listening to all the people who question them.
 

cuddle striker

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None of the people listed.

It'll be climate science people, people working in the civil rights movement (not the same as identity politics), green energy overlords, new tech engineers, a few artists and authors.

Like Taft and Jackson, Trump and Obama will be ridiculed and considered questionable. Obama's actions in the arena of war won't help him and Trump's oblivious corruption is teapot dome level trouble, historically.

The Bushes will have some historical legacy but it's also going to be tainted by the patriot act.
 

ICametoLurk

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Enclave Supremacy

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A belief that they are, as you point out, the only people moral enough to be entrusted with power, and those who oppose them do so not because they have questions and concerns about this supposed utopia we are on the cusp of, but because they are evil.

It's relative. Relative to you. Chairman Mao is the right-side to the Chinese and pure evil to us. Plenty of people aren't on the right side of history (or human development). Mohammed, Hitler, Stalin... bet you have no problem considering yourself morally superior to those folks.
 

Replicant Sasquatch

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Everyone wants to claim they're on the right side of history. Hitler believed it and told everyone that. But at the exact same time Eisenhower told his men their "grand crusade" would be remembered forever. Only one of those guys was right, but we didn't find out who until a couple years later.

If you're asking me if the social justice moralists of today will be vindicated, then no I don't think they will.
 

Maiden-TieJuan

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It is the people who write and teach history that decided the "Right side" of it. Ever notice how many people disagreed with Obama and his policies, but yet the history books in classes teach our kids that he was amazing and the best president EVER. Notice how JFK was basically Hail as the President that would have saved us all, had he only survived, but those same books don't tell how he was basically elected by the Mob, and his family had relied on the Mob for their political beginnings? The whole damn family furthered any measures put forth by the Mob and their businesses, but JFK WAS BESTEST!!!!!! It wasn't until he decided to stop that he got wacked (tin foil hat theory).

The History books and the people that teach them will write history in the way they deem it correctly done. Who knows, maybe teachers will end up on the conservative side in 20 years. But now, they write the history, they influence our children's political thoughts, so they make history say what they want. It doesn't matter how the country at large feels, it is how THEY TEACH IT.
 

millais

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It is the people who write and teach history that decided the "Right side" of it. Ever notice how many people disagreed with Obama and his policies, but yet the history books in classes teach our kids that he was amazing and the best president EVER. Notice how JFK was basically Hail as the President that would have saved us all, had he only survived, but those same books don't tell how he was basically elected by the Mob, and his family had relied on the Mob for their political beginnings? The whole damn family furthered any measures put forth by the Mob and their businesses, but JFK WAS BESTEST!!!!!! It wasn't until he decided to stop that he got wacked (tin foil hat theory).

The History books and the people that teach them will write history in the way they deem it correctly done. Who knows, maybe teachers will end up on the conservative side in 20 years. But now, they write the history, they influence our children's political thoughts, so they make history say what they want. It doesn't matter how the country at large feels, it is how THEY TEACH IT.
That is an interesting perspective. Obviously academic and peer-reviewed journal publishing has a more liberal influence at the university and post-grad level, but as for what kids are being taught in elementary and high school, well that is a different story in America according to what I have read. The publishing of school textbooks for that kind of primary/secondary education is a very big business monopolized by only a handful of publishers. Now Texas is supposedly the biggest nationwide purchaser of these textbooks, so the publishers make huge print runs of the Texan curriculum editions of many textbooks. So due to basic economies of scale, the Texan editions are always the cheapest, forcing cash strapped school districts across the country (i.e. 95% of districts) to buy them. The Texan curriculum is determined by the state's school district boards, which are all run by socially conservative Republicans; thus the textbooks end up favoring their world view. So for example, Texan history textbooks teach children the States Rights theory of the American Civil War, which is nigh heresy almost everywhere else in the US. There are a lot of other smaller examples like Texan textbooks marginalizing the contribution of some Civil Rights Movement figures or describing the Founding Fathers' model of government as republican rather than democratic, but in general they all lean more Republican/conservative.
 

Gym Leader Elesa

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Texan history textbooks teach children the States Rights theory of the American Civil War, which is nigh heresy almost everywhere else in the US.

Which is funny considering this was the consensus everywhere until the 1970's. In any case, I agree it is widely politicized. No history is ever truly objective anyway, as close as the honorable historian might try to get it.
 

Maiden-TieJuan

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That is an interesting perspective. Obviously academic and peer-reviewed journal publishing has a more liberal influence at the university and post-grad level, but as for what kids are being taught in elementary and high school, well that is a different story in America according to what I have read. The publishing of school textbooks for that kind of primary/secondary education is a very big business monopolized by only a handful of publishers. Now Texas is supposedly the biggest nationwide purchaser of these textbooks, so the publishers make huge print runs of the Texan curriculum editions of many textbooks. So due to basic economies of scale, the Texan editions are always the cheapest, forcing cash strapped school districts across the country (i.e. 95% of districts) to buy them. The Texan curriculum is determined by the state's school district boards, which are all run by socially conservative Republicans; thus the textbooks end up favoring their world view. So for example, Texan history textbooks teach children the States Rights theory of the American Civil War, which is nigh heresy almost everywhere else in the US. There are a lot of other smaller examples like Texan textbooks marginalizing the contribution of some Civil Rights Movement figures or describing the Founding Fathers' model of government as republican rather than democratic, but in general they all lean more Republican/conservative.
It really depends on the state then. Here in California it is OVERWHELIMGLY liberal in the schools, dispute the majority of the people in cen cal being conservative. There was a huge dustup recently when a 6th grader brought home a unit on the Muslim religion, with the parents raising hell and telling about "not teaching Christianity but teaching this tripe?" It was explained the religion was discussed as part of a unit on the region since religion is a major part of culture, but it was still a huge shitfit. California is majorly conservative, but the larger cities get more voting power, and they set the curriculum. Look at Yevette Felarca, for gods sake. She still teaches.
 

Cripple

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History is written by the winners, there is no "right". If you want to be right, you win the war.

I do however agree with a few points @resonancer made such as Bush being an important president with a legacy in hindsight. Also I too believe the future belongs to the scientists with Elon Musk possibly being the most important person alive right now if Space X fulfills its mission.

In short I wouldn't let identity politics cloud the big picture. There's a lot more going on right now. Some scientists think they have found the level where reality begins to pixelate meaning Musk is right that reality is a simulation of some kind. To me, that makes everything else seem quite petty.
 

Jaimas

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The "right" side of a conflict is never visible in its own time, even when said conflict is largely clear-cut. It's only when the dust settles, when the shell casings have all settled, and the facts are all in that we can really crunch the data and look towards what really happened. Sometimes, even in a case where there is an obvious example of one side being right in a conflict and one side being provably in the wrong, you won't get a full grasp of it until you look at it like this, and find out that while yes, your assumption was accurate, you had no idea just what a clusterfuck was going on right under the surface.
 

TowinKarz

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There were people who openly questioned the need to send US troops to die overseas in what was just a regional conflict.

Sound familiar?

Except that argument can be found back during WW2 if you read period papers and editorials, the only war everyone except Nazis agrees was worth fighting and you still had detractors.
 

Camarque

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Honestly, I think the whole 'right side of history' argument(if that's the right word for it) is very close to superstition. History has no preference. Just because it has been moving your way for a while doesn't mean that it will continue to do so.

Furthermore, I really don't care what side of history I'm on personally - all I want to do is follow the irrational impulses that I've been blessed with as a human being. Why would I care if future generations see me in a negative light? That's almost as meaningful as worrying about what everyone who's already dead thinks of me.
 

Alec Benson Leary

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all I want to do is follow the irrational impulses that I've been blessed with as a human being. Why would I care if future generations see me in a negative light? That's almost as meaningful as worrying about what everyone who's already dead thinks of me.
I think wanting to leave a positive impression for future generations is part of what makes us human. So I don't fault people for considering future implications or their own place among such. It's just autistic and intellectually lazy as hell to tell yourself you'll be right just because you want to be.