We are only amused
Posted by Ron Coleman on March 23, 2007
Think about the Victorians lately? They were, a generation ago, iconic for conservatives, as the quotation from Margaret Thatcher at the link to Slate indicates. But as she points out, she was raised by a Victorian grandmother, for in the 1970’s and ’80’s, people who knew actual Victorians still walked the earth. And not only that — the shuddering of the collapse of their world was still being felt.
Has a civilization ever gone from business casual to morning coats? Not without being rebuilt from the ground up in ways too painful to contemplate. We’re so far from that today that the concept of hearkening back to Victorian anything is pretty comical. We may as well speak of bringing back the Great Awakening or the good old days of Antiquity. It’s not just because of the distance in time: Our culture of slovenliness, gracelessness and, well, just about everything, er, blogging is about is so antithetical to the starched-collar and class-conscious ethos of Victorianism that it is simply impossible to imagine our civilization looking or feeling so civilized — or, of course, so stratified.
Good riddance? Well, if Mrs. Thatcher had some regrets, how can any cultural conservative — damn the historicism! — have none at all? But a century has come and gone and the Victorians, really the ones who ushered in the technological world in the West, only get further away in the rear-view mirror.