I was born in 1990. I was born right on one of those era-dividing lines, even though I didn’t know it at the time and wouldn’t realise it until I began studying history as a teenager in the years after 9/11, when yet another era had begun in earnest. Then just as I reached adulthood everything changed again with the Crash of ’08 and the Great Recession. And now, of course, we’re living through another transition.
When I started college in 2009, I did a module on the Cold War. The lecturer recommended Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man as a cautionary example of thinking all of history has built to this point, the one we’re living through, and all that’s left is a little bookkeeping before things settle down into a calm, liberal-democratic stasis.
We should have known the Twenties would never be a quiet decade. Fraught elections in some places, calcified political zombies clinging to power in others, a global pandemic and war in Eastern Europe. We will look back on this as one of the great Turning Points, especially in Europe, where the EU has been pushed to direct action on a scale never seen before.
I hope Ukraine will endure through the next week, and I hope that after that they will triumph, and stand as a perpetual black mark on the record of that twisted old fossil in the Kremlin and spell the end for kleptocratic Russian gangsterism. But who can know. After a brief intermission of unipolar American hegemony, we have returned to a multipolar world. As flies to wanton boys are we smaller nations to the Great Powers. An Úcráin abú!
Finally, some History Thread bookkeeping. Agnew mentioned he won’t have as much time this month, so how about we have another round of guest contributions? I’ve never made a G-docs sign-up sheet for this kind of thing before, so if anyone has any experience doing that, then have at it. I’d love to see articles by everyone in our little community here.