Tue Aug, 08 2006
Martin remarks on my remarks on the French Revolution:
"As to stretching 'Cold War' back to 1917 and then stretching it again back to 1789, I think that’s O.K., but what is really needed is a term that fits the entire period back to 1789 and to then make the Cold War one of its subcategories. There’s also need for a term to cover, as another subcategory, the period from the 'end' of the Cold War to the present. Beck would probably like 'The War on Individuals' as the all-encompassing term, and I might prefer 'The Postmodern Liquidation of the West' as the term for the period from the end of the Cold War to the present, but they’re both too descriptive and without the right kind of sound to them. Like 'Cold War,' a good term describing a historical period has to have a sound roughly equivalent to when an extremely strong man tosses a manhole cover aside, onto a concrete-paved street. So that when you hear it, your attention will be force-focused."That last line of Martin's is just about what I'm all about in this, and there are any number of good reasons for it, despite the difficulties in adjusting the prevailing lexicon. For example: "The Cold War", in referring to an ideological battle going back to 1789, is a matter of plain fact. The percentage of the intervening two hundred seventeen years spent at actual armed battle between individualism and collectivism is a minute percentage of the same effort spent in the forty-four years after it entered popular use. Those two centuries of intellectual combat for the minds of people all over the world have been every bit as important as the comparatively parochial superpower contest for less than a half-century that the term commonly (yes: commonly) connotes. They involved human lives in untold numbers approachable only by the general catastrophe of nuclear war, the very absence of which being what kept the thing "Cold". Well, I say that those two centuries were a lot more "cold", and the general issue here -- the broadest possible abstraction -- is precisely what demands the "force-focus" that Martin is talking about.