Comment on the use of the term “Progress” in world history. How is progress related to modernity and enlightenment? What are the implications of this relationship in relation to the Western view of history and your thinking?
In historical terms, the word progress would refer to the growth, development, and advancement of a given idea, whether it is to be built upon a society or furthered on by destiny. To relate this with modernity and the enlightenment, I first think of the enlightenment to be a catalyst of modernity. Since the enlightenment established the importance of scientific thought, the development of technology ensued. But this didn’t take place overnight; this is where progress fits in, namely progression. The progression of Europe and the U.S. in becoming more modernized and industrialized, as the textbook repeatedly points out, happened gradually and over a period of time. Ultimately, the end result was that these empires were seen as modern, with them having the most up-to-date defense and economic infrastructures.
But the definition of progress doesn’t only end here. Progress, at least in the western view of history, is to forward the way of life of areas in the world that are lacking and lagging behind in modern advancements (whether technology or government structure, in it not being a democracy). Tying into that mindset, the empires of Europe and the U.S. used the modernization theory (from the reading), which supported that the West should reshape the world in terms of a world system, driven by capitalism and macroeconomics. So progress in this case is best described as the action of carrying out that theory to modernize “uncivilized” nations.