The Nostalgia Trap

I’ve written about the ways in which many conservatives seem to yearn for yesteryear. This morning, historian Stephanie Coontz offered a fascinating and compelling article in the NY Times on the dangers of nostalgia:

In society at large, however, nostalgia can distort our understanding of the world in dangerous ways, making us needlessly negative about our current situation.[snip]

Happy memories also need to be put in context. I have interviewed many white people who have fond memories of their lives in the 1950s and early 1960s. The ones who never cross-examined those memories to get at the complexities were the ones most hostile to the civil rights and the women’s movements, which they saw as destroying the harmonious world they remembered.

Read the whole thing, it’s worth it.


  1. #1 by Richard Warnick on May 19, 2013 - 11:12 am

    I have happy memories of growing up in the American middle class. It’s not nostalgia but realism to recognize that way of life is being destroyed so the 1 Percent can exercise unrestricted greed and thirst for power.

  2. #2 by Larry Bergan on May 19, 2013 - 8:23 pm

    I’m glad I was too young to know about the blacklisting of people in Hollywood and elsewhere in the fifties. That is certainly not a thing I would want to get nostalgic about. A lot of people were hurt very badly, and yet we still have people who would like to see that sort of thing happen again.

    There was a story on NPR this morning about a guy who shot a man in the face because he was gay. I just can’t understand how somebody could do something like that. How could you stand there shoot somebody in the face?

  3. #3 by Larry Bergan on May 19, 2013 - 8:44 pm

    Wasn’t me.

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