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He Should Bone-up on History

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Benjamin Kelley says that his art “represents the dehumanization of modern society” (“An artistic body of work’s bone of contention,” July 16).  I’d like to ask him which aspects of pre-modern society he believes to have been most humane.  Was it a life-expectancy of about 30 years?  How about mass illiteracy?  Maybe Mr. Kelley longs for the odors, lice, and scabs that regularly adorned human bodies that seldom bathed and that slept on dirt or straw?

Possibly Mr. Kelley regrets that the homicide rate in modern society is far lower – as much as 90 percent lower – than in pre-modern societies?  Perchance he laments modernity’s liberation of women from the oppressive dominance of men?  Maybe he finds fault with modern humans’ greater skepticism of tales of witches and sentient volcanoes?  Or perhaps Mr. Kelley is upset simply because modernity has eradicated slavery?

Being only 26 years old in modern society, Mr. Kelley has many decades left to reject his fashionable romantic nonsense about a past Golden Age.  Were he born just a few generations earlier, however, not only would he have been unable to earn a living as an artist, his own stint in humanity would have been much shorter.

Donald J. Boudreaux