36 / CHRONICLESnquestionable and fugitive of all concepts, seemingly so solidnat one moment but blown away by unpopularity the next?nWhat is war in an age of terrorism, export dumping,nmilitary computer games, and nuclear standoff?nSuch questions are not intended to induce the aporia ofnthe mole-historian we depicted earlier, trying to definenthose troublesome ideas by the mere accumulation of data,nso as to take into account all the exceptions; rather, they arena preface to a new/old kind of historical understanding.nObjective and abstract definitions of political conceptsnimply Utopias, ideal social states towards which historicalnpolities should strive; satisfy the definitions, and we havenperfection, the end of history, an objective rationality tonjudge all of the past! Horrible idea; but it governs mostnpolitical enthusiasm. Instead, let us imagine a peculiar kindnof progress; not the old one—toward Whig empire ornHegelian state or proletarian or socialist or technologicalnparadise—but a progress in changing terms which themselvesnprogress by subsuming earlier ones; a progress thatnlooks like decline or stagnation to those fixed to one idea ofnit; a progress not along a straight time-line but along onenwhich curves back and fills up the holes in itself until itnbegins to look like a plane or a solid; a progress forced out ofnthe evolutionary competition of totalizations, in whichnthose most accommodating, most loving to each other, likenthe mammals, have the best chance of survival.nBut is not progress an outdated concept? Even among thenhistorians of science there are now those who deny anynprogress. Thomas Kuhn, the theorist of scientific revolutions,nhas publicly questioned whether there can be anynimprovement from one scientific paradigm to the next—nsay, from the Aristotelian to the Newtonian. Fritjof Caprangoes even further into scientific agnosticism. The deconstructionistsnall vehemently deny the possibility of progress.nLikewise Robert Heilbroner and the Club of Rome. But allnthese thinkers are caught in a logical trap, from which therenis no escape. For either their own ideas are an improvementnon those of their predecessors, in which case progress hasnoccurred (and could in theory occur again), or they are nonimprovement, which implies there is no reason for us tontake them seriously. In either case their ideas do not standnoutside or above the process of history.nSince some notion of progress is thus a logical preconditionnof any attempt at understanding or argument, let usnexamine where the critics of progress go wrong. Kuhnnargues that since the criteria of coherence and explanationnthat Aristotie’s science satisfied are different from thencriteria met by Newton, to compare the two systems is toncompare apples and oranges. Because the difference betweennthe criteria themselves is a matter of values, not facts,nno determination of superiority can be made betweennthem. The assumption is that values are not real; and sincenthis assumption is the key to an argument whosenconclusion—that there can be no progress—is manifestiynself-contradictory, this assumption must be false. Values,nthen, are real. Their improvement can improve the criterianof scientific study, and thus the quality of scientific knowledge.nAnd here we may begin to redeem that promise ofnprinciples of understanding and descriptive categories propernto our own level of reflexive complexity that we impliednnnearlier. The real forces at work on the stage of history arenvalues. And values are uniquely qualified for a role both asntools to understand history and as forces at work in it. Onenqualification is just that: They straddle the worlds of actionnand knowledge, they admit candidly our involvement, ournpartisanship, our partiality, and our power. Objectivity in anhistorian is an impossible goal in any case. Anothernqualification of values is that they give a kind of direction tonhistory, the possibility of progress, which is the logicalnprecondition of any inquiry. Values are essentially dynamic,nreadjusting, contested, vigorous, as the word’s derivationnfrom the Latin for “health” and its cognate “valor” imply.nWe must reexamine those older partisan brands ofnhistoriography that wore their values on their sleeves:nheroic, exemplary, mythic history. Perhaps their intellectualncredentials were not as shaky as we thought; perhaps theynwere not so naively unaware of the possibility of their ownnbias. Herbert Butterfield’s critique of Herodotus is a lovelynexample of the way in which the critic is ironically exposednby his material:nHe wrote history partly in order that great deedsn(whether of Greeks or non-Greeks) should be placednon record, and partly because he wished to lay outnthe causes of the Greco-Persian war. He wasninterested in the way in which things came tonhappen and would look for rational explanations,nshowing the influence of climate and geographicalnfactors and presenting excellent portrayals ofncharacter, though he was liable to imputenimportant events to trivial incidental causes, theninfluence of women [sic] and purely personalnfactors. At the same time he had a disturbing sensenof supernatural influences, showed the inadequacynof human calculations, the retribution that Heavennwould inflict on great misdeeds, and introducedndreams, oracles, visions, and divine warnings ofnapproaching evil.nWith Herodotus we might cite the great Roman historiansnAlfred and Shakespeare on English history, Vico,nBurke, Tocqueville, Burkhardt, and Huizinga as all in onenway or another recognizing the fundamental importance ofnvalues as the driving force of history. Shakespeare especiallynis an exemplary historian of the persuasion I wish to urge;nmore than anyone else he sees how together we make up thendrama of history according to what we deem to be the best,nand how from that loom flows the rich pattern of humannevents.nIt might well be objected that I am advocating annoutrageous abandonment of objectivity, and giving licensento the worst forms of ethnocentrism and bias. Indeed, Inmust plead guilty, but with mitigating circumstances. It wasnthe age of “objective” history that provided the fuel fornscientific racism, holocausts, colonialism, and the Gulag.nThe ideologue who believes he has objective truth on hisnside is more dangerous than the ordinary patriot or hero,nbecause he calls his values “facts” and will disregard allnordinary human values in their service. We are going to benethnocentric anyway; let us at least play our ethnoeentrismsnagainst each other on a level playing-field and not attemptnto get the objective high ground of each other. Given such an