Redemption Through Return

Earlier studies have determined that the experiences of defeat and loss (the culture of defeat; military retreat; the industrial revolution as the destruction of traditional forms of space, time, and life) led to a romanticized reinterpretation of the past. Restoration, reaction and conservatism transfigure the past into a golden age to be recovered.

Returning to the healthy original state of humanity not only is, however, the goal of all restorative, reactionary, and conservative world views, but is also at the core of progressive thought. The golden future advocated by such thinkers is nothing other than the golden age of the past transposed onto the future.
This issue is of a certain topicality against the background of current populist romanticism—a reaction to globalization and digitalization, which are perceived as threats.

Head researcher(s): Wolfgang Schivelbusch †