If, as we said at the beginning, the notion of progress as a law of movement is the primary characteristic of modernity, it has not then disappeared at all, and in fact informs, consciously or not, most of our interpretations and views of the events surrounding us (which ultimately make up History) and, therefore, determines and shapes our political decisions. This is the case when we believe that human rights, democracy or the market economy are the goals towards which all societies tend and will (must) arrive at.

Last year, before the last-minute Russian initiative defused the tension surrounding the war in Syria, Western governments openly called for Assad to be removed. Among the various reasons given to support the rebels to oust Assad and his regime, one particularly  stands out. The comment below was made by then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton in Paris in July 2012 (see article here):

“The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price. Because they are holding up progress, blockading it. That is no longer tolerable.”

That short sentence is particularly significant because it makes manifest the meta-logic of progress directing western policies and, ultimately, the West’s concept of History. To the former Secretary of State, progress is a force of history that must not be blocked, implying thereby that it is the movement by which history moves by itself. The problem with this scheme of things is that human politics then becomes irrelevant and meaningless as it is no longer free to act independently and to create something new. The best it can pretend to is to accompany this autonomous movement and make the way smooth for it to be implemented. We can draw the image of a statue already fully sculpted inside a block of marble, for which the sculptor’s sole job is to remove the unnecessary material covering the statue. In such a case, the sculptor would clearly not be regarded as an artist, but as a mere technician or, perhaps, janitor.