Future historians will marvel, if history is not abolished and historians themselves canceled — or worse — before then, how so many Americans at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st came so suddenly and with apparent certainty to believe in such human and scientific impossibilities as homosexual marriage and the multiplication of the two biological sexes into a unlimited number of them; the ability as if by magic to transform a man into a woman and a woman into a man, and for a man to give birth to a baby; the possibility for Homo sapiens to exert direct control over the terrestrial climate, as if the earth were a suite in a luxury hotel; and other manifest absurdities.

The explanation, I suggest, is a tradition of several previous centuries of historical positivism and a naive optimism that has encouraged the American people never to question socially and politically introduced change of any kind — mental, moral, or physical — but instead accept it simply as progress in another of its multivarious and protean forms. This accepting and welcoming attitude toward change is peculiarly American, even if it is not something entirely new in history and even if it has succeeded over two centuries in influencing much of the rest of the world.

Here it is necessary to distinguish between change and simple novelty, to which the human race has always been inclined, in trivial matters mainly but occasionally in great ones. Aristocracies, having the leisure and the money to indulge themselves in generally material novelties of the most expensive sort, like sartorial fashion, architecture, landscaping and the plastic arts, have usually done so with pleasant results. When their fancy has turned to intellectual and political novelty, as that of certain restless and impatient members of the Russian nobility (whence the word ‘intelligentsia’ originates) did in the late 19th century, tragedy has often ensued. From colonial times until now, Americans have been a practical people with a strongly progressive coloration that has influenced and reflects their Protestant religion and intellectual bent, and thus their social mores and political thinking. As is presently being remarked, American liberals in the early decades of the 21st century strongly resemble aristocratic revolutionaries in late-czarist Russia, while wokeism explicitly asserts a direct descent from the Great Awakening of the 1740s and Forties. As the heirs of religious sectarianism and the political rebellion that created the United States, as philosophical pragmatists and positivists, and as practical materialists who revere scientific inquiry and virtually idolize applied science, Americans have always been patient of fluxion and unskeptical of change, to which they are temperamentally inclined.

Add to this their passion for what they call ‘freedom’ (which they too often mistake for the liberty they are surrendering unaware), and one has made a start toward understanding how it is that so large a part of the American public has been corrupted by the irrational deconstructivism being flogged by the American academy, the public schools, the media and by progressive and other far-left politicians to the point where the public has come to accept, however reflexively, the mythical thinking and downright superstitious thought summed up by the word ‘progressivism’.

Until quite recently, the preponderance of the country viewed suspicion of change, let alone resistance to it, as un-American. For Americans, history goes in one direction only, and that is forward — and now, fast-forward. That assumption has recently begun to change, as progressivism demands that they submit themselves to a wholly delusional Weltanschauung and to increasingly preposterous propositions regarding natural, human and metaphysical reality. The American people being a notoriously obstinate, ornery and cross-grained race, the amazing thing is that they did not turn against progressivism from the start, but now they are beginning to do exactly that.

They had more or less agreed to accept, without being actually convinced, that two people of the same sex can be ‘married’ according to the lexicological and metaphysical sense of the word. In the same way, millions of them were willing to pretend to believe that a human creature bearing the double-x chromosome could be surgically transformed into a man, and another distinguished by the x-y ones into a woman. The progressive concept of race as a social construct was altogether too abstract and vague for most of them, and so they chose to ignore it and leave the strange beings lodged in ivory towers on university campuses to their word games.

But the progressive claim that the western world is ‘systemically racist’ and that the theoretical monstrosity called critical race theory must be incorporated forthwith into the public educational curriculum is more than a bridge too far. It is a span thrown across the River Styx over which their children are being frog-marched into a marshy underworld of shadows, hatred, racial strife and forgetfulness of the human world that they have left behind.

Thus American parents, goaded at last to angry rebellion, are making a stand against local school boards comprised of the educational ‘experts’ progressives consider their intellectual and moral superiors. This homely insurrection across American hill and plain may look, for the moment, a laughable, even a pitiable, thing: a futile protest by the impotent, the ignorant and the un-woke against the all-powerful post-modern American establishment and the Bolsheviki americani who are rapidly making the Democrats over into a frankly revolutionary party that will seize any and every opportunity to skirt Congressional protocol and — it may be — constitutional law. The Boston Tea Party did not seem like much at the time, either.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s November 2021 World edition.