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Ed Driscoll

Backwards Ran the Progress Until Reeled the Mind

January 2nd, 2011 - 2:57 pm

“Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan: Record stores, Mad Men furniture, and pencil skirts,” notes an article last year at the Foreign Policy Website with a collection of remarkably modern images of Kabul in the 1950s, when it had “rock ‘n’ roll, not rockets.”

Add it to this blog post, which we linked to a while back, of Pompeii-like images of Tehran in the 1970s, before the lights went out. As I wrote back then:

It features numerous color snapshots that could have been taken anywhere in the west in the 1970s: guys in Qiana shirts with collars the size of B-52 wingspans, big lapeled-polyester suits, women with big blonde hair and Liza Minnelli-inspired looks, plenty of makeup, etc. In other words, normal everyday folks not knowing that their lives were about to be completely upended by the end of the decade.

The mid-century images of Kabul and Tehran make for a eerie triple-feature when viewed alongside this post by Phyllis Chesler featuring photographs of Cairo University’s graduating classes from 1959 until 2004.

And maybe just for the heck of it, throw in Steven Crowder’s video of Detroit from last year as well, as a reminder that in both the Mideast and in America, “Progress” doesn’t always move in a forward direction. Or as Mark Steyn wrote about Phyllis’s post:

Whenever I give a speech on Islam, some or other complacenik always says, “Oh, but they haven’t had time to Westernize. Just you wait and see. Give it another 20 years, and the siren song of Westernization will work its magic.” This argument isn’t merely speculative, it’s already been proved wrong by what’s happened over the last 20 years. Compare the Cairo University class of 1959 with those of the 21st century, and then see if you can recite your inevitablist theories of social evolution with a straight face. The idea that social progress is like the wheel or the internal combustion engine — once invented, it can never be uninvented — is one of the laziest assumptions of the Western Left.

Oswald Spengler, please call your office.

(H/T: SDA)

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