Endless War Then and Now
The book’s conclusion asks what forms might emerge to mediate our own moment of retreating hegemony and proliferating war, so similar in world-historical shape to Haggard’s own. These pages reflect on the double injunction of historical thinking, by which we must simultaneously see connection to the past and assert the past’s radical difference from us. Tracing this dilemma of historicist method through the cases examined in the book so far, the conclusion asserts the capacity of Victorian objects to generate theories of history; it also frames the challenge of drawing brackets around “the contemporary,” which has extended the Victorian problem of liberal violence into our idioms of digital surveillance, global precariousness, and long-distance warfare. While it is incumbent upon us as curators of a singular past to insist that the Victorian era is only itself, it remains paradoxically true that the Victorians are also, in crucial ways, still our contemporaries.
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