Friday, October 14, 2011

History Does Not Repeat Itself

History does not repeat itself. We can learn from historical events, but we cannot use them to predict future occurrences. And that is because yesterday is never the same as today and today is never the same as tomorrow. Things change. Facts affecting events change. Players participating in events change. Situations affecting events are ever changing. Change fuels the world and does not permit the retrospective analysis of history to be the sole decider in decision making. Such an analysis can serve only as a background for decisions affecting today.

Has history helped us avoid conflict? Is the world a better place because of the lessons of history? I think we would all agree that the answers to both questions are a resounding "no!"

History seems to cycle rather consistently. That is the one, if only, true historical fact. Wars, man-made disasters, non man-made disasters, financial crises, crises of thoughts and ideas - ever constant, but never the same.

Programs instituted to stem the depression of the '30s cannot be the answer to our present financial debacle. Early 20th century is not early 21st century: trading in the stock market is different, corporate management is different, the value of currency is different, the population is different, the people in control are different. The world is different.

Ahmadinejdad's antisemitism is not Hitler's antisemitism: the situation is different, the world is different, weapons are different, spread of information is different, the organization of countries is different, the population is different, the people in control are different.

Slogans echoing a reference to a past occurrence, such a "Don't forget Munich!" (vis-a-vis the Iran issue) should serve only to remind us of the event, but never to intend for us to respond to today's issue as we feel we should have to yesterday's. Remember history. Learn from history. But do not become a prisoner of history! The world of today "resembles" but does not "mirror" the world of the past.

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