Mises Daily | Mises Institute:
A little side-trip to the link can assure you I'm not nuts. There really is a "Whig Theory of History", and it is essentially as simple as the belief that "things are getting better".
You likely haven't thought about it much, but you probably have this theory as an unconscious belief. It is hard not to, it is after all the basis of "Progressivism", the dominant stated political theory of "The Party" (TP-Dem) which controls all our media and educational system. It has LOTS of support! It is also something that seems very nice to believe -- things will be better ten years from now, life will be grand when you retire, your kids will have a better life than you did, etc, etc.
It might FEEL nice to believe, but is it true? If you are a Christian or really any kind of a religious person, you ought not really believe it -- God has a plan, but the goal of that plan is eternity in heaven. The earth will explicitly pass away, and the predictions for whatever time the old ball of rock has left are for wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, floods, famine, etc, etc. So no go for a Christian on the "it's getting better and better for sure" outlook.
Atheist? How exactly would there be a "plan" or "direction" of history? And why oh why would it be inevitably toward "better"? Not to mention what "better" might mean in a purposeless universe. The atheist creed ought to believe in NOTHING, as in nihilism. Clearly to them the universe is some grand accident, and since at least a huge number of atheists claim to arrive at their "faith" (the faith they are soulless) because of "the problem of pain and suffering in the world".
Since they can't accept a God that would allow any pain and suffering, they are stuck with a universe that they admit has pain and suffering, but also has no purpose. I always wonder how they arrive at the conclusion that meaningless pain and suffering is far superior to meaningful pain and suffering that they don't understand?
Or maybe the purpose IS pain and suffering? A number of prominent historical atheists seem to decide that INFLICTING pain and suffering may be at least their personal purpose -- see Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the people that outlawed DDT, etc.
"Progressives"? We might refer to these as people that decided to ignore most of the 20th century, where the leading "progressive" ideologies of Socialism and Communism (including National Socialism - Nazi) managed to murder something over 100 million and cause a good deal of property damage while doing it. I suppose it would truly be a "Progressive world" today had Hitler won -- in which case I would dare not be writing this, thus proving (to some) that history had "gotten better".
So, most of us run around believing a theory that has no philosophical or religious grounding, and is absurdly false based on empirical evidence (see middle ages, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, 9-11, lite beer, etc, etc).
The biggest reason is that we WANT to see history that way and there are certainly a goodly set of people that would like to take our money to tell us that they are making "progress" (See Hitler, Stalin, BO, etc). What's more, they are very happy to indoctrinate us with a specific way of teaching "history" that makes it SEEM like the Whigs produced holy writ -- doubly dangerous, because it is what we "feel" might be right. It is like someone taught you day after day that the sun goes around the earth, and since it looks that way, you are VERY CONFIDENT that you KNOW the right answer!
Only you don't know the right answer!! You need MORE DETAIL. Which is where books like the Churchill biography come in. If you sit down and read DETAILED history about virtually anything, the "inevitability illusion" fades like morning mist at sunrise. You see that history is made up of individuals, countries, events, ideas and "fate" interacting in highly unpredictable ways. It is completely the opposite of "inevitable"!
In fact, what appears to be inevitable even moments before it happens OFTEN turns out to not even happen as it is OBVIOUS minutes, hours, days, etc before that it MUST happen!
The French could have ended Hitler by having one soldier march across the border to into the Rhineland, nearly everyone but Hitler thought that was "inevitable", but they failed to act.
Same with Britain making a treaty with Stalin prior to Poland being invaded -- it was OBVIOUS, only they didn't make it and the opportunity was missed.
Had Hitler not called a halt to offensive panzer operations on the 24th of May 1940, rather than 330K British and French troops being evacuated from Dunkirk, there could have been 330K allied forces killed or captured, enough at that stage to likely swing the war to Hitler.
I could go on and on from this book -- but there are A LOT of options -- Six Frigates, 1776, and Coddington: The Gettysburg Campaign are a trio I would personally recommend ... and the linked reviews can give you a little ammo to take on the Whigs!
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