Just because writing is an art doesn't mean all writers are liberal. Part of that is due to a sickening melancholy bug present within many writers, and another part is from the style of historical education. Orwell described his own historical education at a youth as line starting and stopping in particular places, indicating exact years when certain eras began and ended. You can say that's ridiculous and that no one does that in modern time, but I remember reading textbooks without much of a difference. Instead of exacting dates, nebulous qualifiers were used, yet the consecutive eras were still tightly defined. What was left out was how they intimately bled into one another, and since writers are tuned into subjective phenomena, human experiences, and cultural trends, rather than this objective-bleeding, they don't see the true breadth of history. Many catch genius glimpses of it, but let's not fool ourselves into believing that just because a historical account of is presented via novel or poem, doesn't mean it's historically informed. Novelists and poets take snapshots, many excellent, but due to their tools, they're just snapshots.
I know that sounds bleak, but why else have writers throughout time been so affected by social circumstances? They're not philosophers who sit outside of the cultural sphere, capable of seeing it truly for what it is. They're creators of illusion, participators in culture, and despite sounding like a curse, is actually an asset because they can make other socially immersed individuals see and think in a more enlightened way. Writers simultaneously affect culture, and are affected by culture, which is why popular opinion changes relatively quickly based on writer popularity and how ready the public is to hear what the writer has to say.
Take someone like H.G. Wells. He loved science and believed it would deliver man from savagery. The more scientific and intellectual man is, the better his choices become, however, reality had something different to suggest. Page 417: "Partly that was the effect of the war of 1914-1918, which succeeded in debunking both Science, Progress and civilised man. Progress had finally ended in the biggest massacre in history, Science was something that created bombing planes and poison gas, civilised man, as it turned out, was ready to behave worse than any savage when the pinch came." Wells was fooled by his romantic ideal of science, however, Orwell shows us that D.H. Lawrence was not fooled by the modern machine civilization, and was skeptical of it. His exposure to social education led his literary mind in a different direction, for one reason or another.
Early 20th century Europe was turbulent. Between the Great War, The Spanish Civil War, The Russian Revolution, and WWII, everything from economics to art to technology to international affairs was affected. The very definitions of socially significant issues like progress, technology, even civilization, changed. In America we have a very comfort-oriented purview of progress because we're economically strong, at least for the time being. Progress means getting what we want, rather than doing what needs to be done. However, think of what it was like to be a German writer after the Great War and having barely enough money to buy a loaf of bread a week, publicly humiliated as a losing contender for the war's battle over resources. Progress to them would probably mean something starkly different than to the British--who won--due to their social adornments as well as their relationship with the world. Progress is like history, it's got breadth, it's a network of things working together, rather than a ruled line going from one point to another. It can be a messy endeavor even trying to understand it because, there's a thin line between relativism and pluralism. Humans have a steady track record of being obtuse to this fact until wars break out. Unfortunately for modern America, it itself is no different. It believes democratic capitalism currently defines progress, but history has shown us that such hubris--despite America's economic and technological success--doesn't end well.
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