I was glad to hear that archaeologists, using a novel scanning technique involving lasers, have discovered that a large area of Sussex downland that is now wooded was farmed 'on an astonishing scale' before the Romans arrived and set about rubbishing the achievements of the people they were conquering.
What has emerged so far is evidence of a managed farming collective 'on a very large scale' - and really we shouldn't be surprised; we've known for a long time that southern England exported quantities of grain to the Continent. I fancy that similar examination of many other southern English landscapes would yield similar results. And yet it always comes as a surprise: 'The degree of civilisation this implies is completely unexpected in this part of the world at this time - something closer to the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians than the current view of prehistoric Britain.'
Well, it's unexpected for two reasons, one being that virtually all accounts of pre-Roman civilisations were written by the conquering Romans, who were keen to present the indigenes as primitive savages (which can't have been the case: as Graham Robb points out, Gaul could never have been conquered so fast if it didn't already have a well developed road network). The other, deeper reason that these things continue to surprise is the sheer sticking power of the idea of Progress, of history proceeding inexorably in one direction. By this calculus, the longer ago people were living the more primitive they must have been, and the less 'civilised'. We retroprogressives, of course, don't look at things that way, and are pleased rather than surprised by discoveries of how 'advanced' supposedly primitive civilisations were.
We were not surprised either by the result of the recent EU referendum. The progressive idea of the Remainers that they were 'on the side of history' and that there could only be one reasonable outcome was clearly delusional. And yet many Remainers are still reeling, staggering around wild-eyed and wailing 'What happened?' Well, for any who actually want an answer to that question (and many of the wailers, I fear, don't), I'd recommend listening to a talk by the philosopher John Gray that was broadcast on Radio 4 this morning. Here's the link.