one correlate of the idea that time is progressive and that we are it which should give progressives pause is the way the idea has articulated cultures. so, for example, hegel held that africa had no history, was outside of history. in anthropology into the midlate twentieth century, you got the idea of some cultures at history's cutting edge, and others scattered along the way, abandoned at one or another moment of time. so our distant past was the present of "stone age" or "primitive" or "savage" societies. we had detected the direction of history and y'all weren't it. almost self-evidently, you had to be brought up to speed, i.e. annihilated as a culture.
i'm just going to state what we all know. whoever the san people or the aborigines may have been in 1830, they were then the exact contemporaries of hegel. every culture that exists right now exists right now. the amish live precisely in the present. dirt poor rednecks in bama exist as much in 2009 as does al gore.the fight of islamic terrorists against the west is not a battle of the medieval against the modern, though it is often portrayed that way (again today by thomas friedman); they are exactly as in the present as we are, conceptually and in a million perfectly practical mundane respects. of course, if they were fighting on behalf of the year 1200, we could not by definition lose.
the progressive politics of today is still connected to the anthropology of the primitive: you are living back there, but we will bring you into now and into the future: our generosity = the destruction of your society = time. the backward and ignorant must be educated and nurtured until they catch up.truly, it is exactly the same basic structure of thought that had the u.s. government kidnapping indian children and sticking them in missionary schools. the left hates that idea. but they're still kidnapping children and sticking them in their missionary schools. only their god isn't jesus, it's the future. with regard to both, i am an atheist.
this is a very hard tension at the heart of progressivism: the pc equality/democratic stuff vs the we are the agents of the future and you are our raw material stuff. it's why instead of letting people of all kinds go - which would seem to make sense if you are in favor of gay rights, indigenous rights, women's rights, everybody's rights - we are constantly engineering, manipulating, dragging people kicking and screaming into the future. it's at once a mellow democratic egalitarianism and an unbelievably presumptuous (and of course entirely incoherent) nonstop paternalism.