Thursday, 13th July 2017

by Joshua Gaskell

There is a set of historical developments that is used to describe ‘a period of extraordinary change’ or similar: everything is rising (literacy, the individual, meritocracy, the middle class, the franchise, technology, life expectancy), except religion, which is declining. The problem is that this is true of every century since the High Middle Ages, so it says precious little. It’s bad Whig history – not because it’s false or unfalsifiable, but because it is insubstantial and non-specific.