Thus, for instance, our Afghanistan and Libyan follies weren’t nearly as important or destructive as our Iraq debacle of the prior decade, but they were more revelatory — in the sense of demonstrating that humanitarian interventions and nation-building projects don’t work out any better with liberal technocrats in charge than under Cheneyites, that there wasn’t a simple “good war” waiting to be fought by smarter people once the Bush-era cowboy spirit went away.

Or again, the election of Trump probably wasn’t the moment of authoritarianism descending — but it was an important moment of exposure, which revealed things about race relations and class resentments and the rot in the Republican Party and the incompetence of our political class that inclined everybody to a darker view of the American situation than before.

Or yet again, what changed in our relationship to Silicon Valley in the 2010s wasn’t some new technology or business model, but our gradual realization of what those technologies and business models were doing to our minds, what they probably weren’t doing for social or economic progress, and how the internet might need to be resisted rather than just happily embraced.