Is Progress Obsolete?

A NOTED HISTORIAN ARGUES THAT THE DREAM HAS BECOME FAR TOO EXCLUSIVE

Progress and democracy, we assume, go hand in hand. Progress means abundance: more labor-saving machines, more comforts, more choices. It means a rich life for everyone, not for the privileged classes alone. Or so we used to believe, until recent events began to suggest that progress may have limits after all.

Compared with the rest of the world, industrial nations enjoy a lavish standard of living. The affluence generated by industrialism looks even more impressive when compared with living standards that prevailed throughout most of the millennium now drawing to a close. Goods that would once have been considered luxuries have...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!