Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Curse of History

There's an old quote from Edmund Burke
“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.”
Edmund Burke

It's been paraphrased hundreds of times, he may have adapted it from someone earlier - it seems self evident. 

Here's the problem - Even when you know history, you may be doomed to repeat it.  

If you ask a progressive to tell you about Stalin, or Hitler they'll be able to tell you they were BAD people, they'll be able to recite some of the atrocities.   What they won't  be able to do is look at their own policies and see the similarity.   They don't view themselves that way so they can't see that their actions will inexorably lead to the same result.  Part of that is extreme arrogance. 
We can make big government work, we can make everyone safe and you'll still be free.    
When they actually believe it, it's arrogance.  They think they're smarter than everyone before them who failed.  Somehow - and they're unable to explain the mechanism - they will succeed when attempt in history has resulted in tyranny.   The arrogance comes from, I think, a deeply held belief that they are not subject to human nature, that they are more evolved.   Despite all the evidence to the contrary.   Because they need it to be true - their entire self worth is tied up in it being true.  

They will never listen to reason.  They will never accept facts that contradict the progressive narrative.   They can't - it's human nature to believe in your world view, your self worth, your identity depends on it.

So, even if they're well versed in history, it won't help.   The curse of history is that some will see it coming again, while those who pursue it won't see it until they're buried under it.    

Avoiding it requires both a knowledge of it, and an acceptance that, despite out technological advances, we are separated from our barbarity by a vary thin line that only exists because we've managed to cooperate long enough to achieve some level of comfort.  It's human nature - which is to say - it's how we were created, how we evolved. We haven't evolved enough in the last 200 years, or the last 500 years to make a difference. All you need to do to see that is look at the state of suffering in the world. 

We might get there in 10,000 years if we can survive that long, but I wouldn't bet on either one happening.

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