Does The Moral Arc of The Universe Actually Bend Toward Justice?


"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

"The biggest story of the last fifteen years, both nationally and globally, is the growing likelihood that a cyclical model of history will be a better predictor than a model of ongoing progress." -Tyler Cowen

Just a quick little blog post before I start work...

That MLK quote above is much quoted. The words are often used to lend optimism to a troubling time, such as the current situation in the United States. I used to believe it wholeheartedly myself. After all look at the gains made by the civil rights movement that King help start? Look at LGBTQ rights? History is only going one way, and that is toward justice, I thought perhaps naively. 

I'm starting to think that is wrong. I just finished Tyler Cowen's "The Complacent Class," which the above quote is from, and he makes a very convincing argument that history is cyclical and any progress made often gets erased by the whims of time. 

Take the rise of fascism of in places like Hungary, Greece, and Italy. Or even the United States. Or how the gains in school segregation have been completely erased. Or how inequality is at its largest gap since the Gilded Age. These aren't old problems. They are just recycled from an earlier era and given new names like "neoliberalism" or "neofascism." 

It is quite possible after the end of Vietnam, the Civil Rights era and the fall of the Soviet Union, we were in an odd time of relative peace throughout the world. Yes, there was plenty of injustice still, but wars and violence have decreased drastically for the bulk of humanity in that time. But perhaps that time is over. Climate change is coming. Fascism is on the rise. Inequality is everywhere. Those factors are bubbling right at the surface. It is only a matter of time before it explodes.