The widespread, largely unexamined*, notion that witch trials were (and continue to be) the products of "mass hysteria" is both a convenient bit of patriarchal propaganda and an utterly perverse choice of words.
The notion, again unexamined*, that at least I had about medieval and later religious persecution (the Inquisitions, etc.), i.e. that it was solely related to dogmatic issues, is another convenient piece of propaganda. The heretics didn't just differ over religious dogma; they were political and social radicals, and were persecuted as such.
The idea of "progress" is even more fucked than I thought it was. There might be more on this in upcoming posts, but if you look at the state of any political, social, and/or economic struggle at, say, two hundred year intervals for the past thousand years, the nature and site of the struggle will change, to be sure, but there is no sign whatsoever of anything approaching linear progress; some things will be "better," some "worse," for whatever definition of those words from whatever perspective, but the overall narrative is not one of progression; rather, it is one of oppression, revolution, and counterrevolution.
Power is very good at sowing the seeds of its own destruction, but I sure wish it was better at reaping that particular crop.
*By I think most people, myself included.