President Barack Obama, in criticizing Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s conquest of the Crimean Peninsula, described Putin as standing “on the wrong side of history.” This curious and arresting phrase has become a frequent cliché among western liberals.
It is testimony to their self-confidence, and to their belief that they have accurately read the deeper currents and inevitable direction of human affairs. These, in the view of the president and his supporters, point inexorably toward greater cooperation between peoples; a decline in attachment to particularist ethnic, national or religious histories; and a decline in the use of force to settle disputes between states.
The unspoken assumption behind all this, of course, is that being on the right side of history also means accepting the unmatched dominance of the U.S. in global affairs, and in turn the unchallengeable domination of the U.S. by people supporting the particular progressive world view of the president and his supporters.
That is, Obama and his supporters use the word “history” to refer to themselves.