Simon Goldhill writes that nostalgia is in part a response to rapid social change and feelings of insecurity. In part, it is what anyone who is growing older might feel, as their childhood becomes vividly distant. But these nostalgic images are a shoddy replacement for any sophisticated understanding of history — the complex story of the past, and the intricate forces that link the past and the present — and that is why we should be worried when politicians play the nostalgia card. When we forget that the questions “where have we come from?” and “where are we going?” are integrally linked, we drastically reduce our chances of self-understanding or effective action. If we oversimplify history, we will live — as both Cicero and Kant predicted — with the shallow mindfulness of children.
(Quoted from “Look back with danger: Why nostalgia is not what it used to be,” by Simon Goldhill. Page 15 in the May 5, 2017 issue of the Times Literary Supplement.)