Comment 43433

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2010 at 23:42:17

By "better", I mean sustainably. It isn't just that we've got far more people, each using far more resources. We're using new resources in in new ways which were nearly inconcievable a century ago - oil, uranium, coltan etc, with no idea what the ultimate long term concequences will be.

There's no question that there have been improvements in the last century. It's not possible to suggest that we're more sustainable than a hundred years ago - we're simply using resources on many times the scale that they were, and yet the Earth is no bigger and much more damaged.

As for civil rights and other improvements, it's important not to view that kind of thing entirely within our own cultural context. From a broader perspective, 1900 was in many ways a low point for human rights globally - it wasn't that long before 1900 that industrialization and colonialism had decimated women's rights worldwide. Similarly, Africans were actually much more equal in Europe up to around 1500, when the slave trade began. Black people were welcomed in Ancient Greece and Egypt. After the Atlantic Slave Trade started, the "science" of racism exploded. Before Europeans conquered the globe, there were many examples of free and equal societies - just look at women's rights in the Iroquois Confederacy, which many consider a matriarchy. And of course, many marginalized people in the modern world (especially women, natives and black people) are still living in some very horrific conditions. "Progress" is never as simple as it sounds. And taking the good elements of the past doesn't need to mean abandoning the good elements of the present.

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