The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Historical perspective

January 11, 2011

As James Poulous reminds me, 2010 ain’t got nothing on 1968, let alone the long 1960s.

Violent rhetoric?
Worse.

Societal polarization?
Worse.

Political violence, including assassinations?
Much worse.

It is something of a testament to how far we’ve come that what outrages us now is relatively tame compared to the spewings of the far left and the far right less than half a century ago.

I still don’t have much use for claims that center-left politicians are trying to destroy the United States, or that center-right politicians are fascists. I still think that most of the political elites accusing their opponents of trying to institute tyranny and implying the need for armed revolt are lying weasels. But let’s not wax nostalgia about some golden past of American politics, okay?

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.