On Book-Banning

The news of escalating tensions in Europe continues to be dispiriting.

Likewise, debates over book-banning (such as recent U.S. school districts banning books on slavery, gay/lesbian culture, and the Holocaust, among other topics) and authoritarian attempts to rewrite history (such as Vladimir Putin’s efforts to distort and deny Ukraine’s independence) continue to challenge our attempts to see the past clearly and navigate a rational and fact-based path into a more peaceful and prosperous future.

This, too, is not new.

Here’s a quote from Bertha von Suttner’s 1887 book Das Maschinenalter (later renamed Das Maschinenzeitalter, which roughly translates into The Machine Age, though no English translation of the book currently exists), in which she imagined speaking about her present (the 19th century) from a vantage point in the future (the 20th century). She originally published the book anonymously, knowing all too well that a philosophy book written by a woman would not, at that time, be taken seriously.

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