The Corner

You’ve Got to Be Kidding

As if I didn’t already feel quite old — as someone who remembers an epoch known as “the 1990s,” in which America was at peace, prosperous, and happy — I happened to start watching a DVD of the 1966 Cold War spy thriller The Quiller Memorandum, starring George Segal and Alec Guinness. The DVD’s commentary track is narrated by a couple of NYU film historians . . . who start their commentary by painstakingly explaining that the “Cold War” was a struggle between Communism and capitalism, etc., etc.

Really? Is the reference already that obscure? Back in the day, when we defeated the Evil Empire (another phrase that will probably need an explanatory footnote), some of us who were unabashed Cold Warriors (myself included) hoped that we were ushering in the End of History. Freedom won! Instead of ending, though, History has been speeding up — in a direction, moreover, that is much to be pitied.