Then came the Enlightenment, which prioritised reason, science, tolerance, rule of law, trade and individualism over traditional lines of authority, and the miracle of today’s world, and the once unimaginable lifestyles and freedoms it has given rise to, began to dawn. It is sometimes hard to credit amid the sensationalism of the global, 24-hour news agenda, but relative to population, the world as a whole is today a more prosperous, tolerant, calmer, less war-, disease- and crime-ridden place than it has ever been.Where we depart is that Jeremy thinks the gains of the Enlightenment itself are under threat - that the failures of globalisation, politics and the EU Federation are signs of stalling - and I do not. The social and economic structures springing from the Enlightenment have already undergone several significant evolutionary shifts, each one advancing mankind to a new level of well-being. Capitalism, Fordism, Consumerism, Post-Fordism, Prosumerism (cf Alvin Toffler) have all, over the past two hundred years, provided the framework within which enlightened societies flourished. My own view is that we are in the middle of another change to yet another form of enlightened peoples creating mutual benefits. And popular hostility towards corporatism, the political class and the EU's silly empire-building is the hive-mind taking us to a new place - don't ask me to predict what it will be, I simply don't know. But we will get there a lot quicker by abandoning those outworn tools rather than defending them. By being open to the evolution of new social, economic and democratic structures.
Not all of mankind is ready to benefit. Those such as Allison Pearson described yesterday as seeking to "recreate their primitive, peasant society in this enlightened land" are least well placed of all to be part of the advance; like other backward savages across the globe, they will remain the beneficiaries of our progress, recipients of the largesse of our enlightened society. They must be corrected and disciplined as a father corrects a wayward child - for its own good. They can believe whatever they like; they can love their prophet as much as they like (though it would be better for all if they loved their live fellow man as much as they loved their dead prophet), and they must allow others to do the same - whether animists worshipping a fetish stick, or mantra-chanting Buddhists. But in the same way as we do not allow a petulant screeching child to rule the household, we must not allow these primitives to hold us back in the advance of our enlightenment; it's for both our own good, and from our charity, for theirs.