All his readers will know that Neo loves history, and many of us have that (and other things) in common with him. But for most of us this is not just an abstract thing, we look to history for examples, for encouragement and for education. There is in this a certain humility. However smart we might suppose ourselves to be we’re smart enough to know we were not the first ones here, and it is unlikely that whatever problem it is we face is brand new; we can learn from history.
My brother in law is an historian, and he says that the reason God invented historians is that even He can’t change history – that he leaves to historians. So yes, historians will disagree – and how – but in the end they, and those of us who read history, think that an acquaintanceship with the best that has been thought, said and done, is part of our education; it may not make us better people, but it should make us wiser ones.
I have not noticed this attitude on the Left. The UK’s own Tony Blair liked to say that everything was made new when he came to power in 1997; it is an attitude he shared with the Russian and Chinese Communists, and it is one which President Obama seems to share. These men seem to regard the past as a prison from which to escape, or something for which they feel obliged to apologise. The past is a bad place and they have come to redeem the time and to take us from that bad place to the Promised Land.
Those on the Left seem to lack an historical perspective, despite the fact that no less a figure than Karl Marx said that if history repeated itself, the second time was as farce. Those who fail to learn from the past often have to repeat its mistakes. Would Blair and Bush have been so keen on Afghanistan if they had learned from the 1841-2 British expedition, or the 1878 one; did they really think they had nothing to learn from what happened to the Soviets after 1989? If so, we’ve all paid a high price for that ignorance.
We’re probably paying a similar price for naiveté over the ‘Arab spring’. Sure, we all believe in democracy, but what about a situation where the people have no democratic background and inadequate education and are liable to vote for Muslim fanatics? That was always likely to be the lesson of history in Egypt, and it will be so in Syria when the time comes. Democracy is not easily won, and it is not native to some parts of the world, so if it is to be transplanted it needs time and care.
The Left, and some neocons, seem to believe that history has nothing to teach them – well that’s a shame, as one the things it has to teach us is that if we ignore its lessons, we do so at our cost.
I am sure you can all think of your own examples – and as we welcome Neo back, I bet he can too
Authored By nebraskaenergyobserver