I suppose the re-interpretation of what humans are, instigated by the industrial revolution, was the beginning of an ideological shift that is relevant even today. It couldn’t be said any better than by Charles Dickens in the first sentence of his book, A Tale of Two Cities:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.”
But as I read Dickens words I couldn’t help but think that today could be characterized the same way. Reflecting on the words that I heard from Dr. Paul Kerry of BYU at the Fidelio Society, I found the key of this substance shift. Using demographic studies from the presidential elections, he explained that devout Muslims, Jews, and Black and Hispanic men with families were more likely to vote for Mitt Romney. On
the other hand, the Catholic and Mormon vote was split, as well as the women’s vote. Women with husbands and families, he explained, were more likely to vote for Romney. Single mothers were more likely to vote for Barack Obama. It’s a question of the secular, which he roughly defined as pertaining to immediate interests of this world, to beliefs and expectations for eternity, which characterizes believers of religion generally.
That analysis seems applicable to the early 20th century search for belief. Artwork shows some who sincerely reached to bridge the gap from Christianity, such as Wasily Kandinsky, while others like Bertolt Brecht indulged in the absurdity of it all. Resem- bling current times, a conservative right clung to traditional institutions and beliefs. Long before the Great War commenced the balancing social contract was threatened, and Ger- man society was challenged by non-conforming movements. This seems all too familiar.
Tying it all together, the ideological shift from the 18th century to the 20th century was a transition from Christianity to secularism. The substance of hope, belief, and individual value eroded. It parallels today in which the transition from religion to secular beliefs is challenging the current social contract of the United States, The Constitution, eroding the same elements of hope, belief, and individual value. What I think is Plato’s assertion in The Republic is entirely applicable at this point:
“Realistically, there is more to human life than the first community can provide–more to the human psyche than mere needs. The community is expanded to include non-neces- sary needs, until it threatens the integrity of others with which it comes into contact, and is itself threatened in the same way.”
Dr. Paul Kerry explained roughly that secular ideology brings about the concerns
for momentary considerations, neglecting the patience and long-sighted vision a believer would have for the eternities. I am synthesizing when I suppose that non-necessary needs are expanded with this mind frame, threatening the integrity of the society’s
There is of course a huge deviation from the value of the 18th to 20th century ideological collapse, and the ideological collapse observed today. That deviation is the condition of the impoverished. The early ideological collapse was from subjection and inferiority to greater influences. The current ideological collapse is from individual liberties and personal empowerment espoused in the country’s opportunities and history, back to subjection to a greater influence. It is essentially a reversal of progress. Is it too cliche to say that history is repeating itself, at least kind of?
Sean Watson / HEX Writer