How do we know when our collective moral standards are slipping?
Few these days would argue with the claim that we are currently wading through one of the most morally challenging moments in modern times: from the American impeachment proceedings to never-ending Brexit diatribes to the all-pervasive spectre of “fake news”, the world seems to be ever-increasingly polarized into rancorous tribes loudly decrying the unparallelled depths of moral turpitude displayed by their unconscionably brazen opponents.
But is that, in fact, true?
Renowned UC Berkeley intellectual historian Martin Jay’s careful, studied reflections gives us pause.
Professor Jay, I am quite confident, would hardly claim that all ages are inherently identical or that we should necessarily be complacent in the current social and political climate, only that we stop for a moment to indulge in some careful, historically informed comparisons before rushing off to the land of hyperbolic judgements about the unprecedented moral decline we are living through.
Such talk might well make for popular television. But that hardly makes it true.