Friday, December 30, 2022

Ah, history...............................

 It has been known for millennia that any understanding of the future is only possible if it includes a reasonable understanding of the past. Thucydides already saw history as, in part, "an aid to the interpretation of the future."

     For humanity, as it exists now, is a product of the past—of the intricate, interweaving complexities of recent, and of less recent, history or histories.  The psychological, as well as physical, conditions we thus inherited must be considered with as much care and clarity as can be attained.  This should, of course, include a proper understanding of backgrounds—so different in different cultures and countries.

     Our current confrontations with the enemies of our civilization are in some ways unlike the earlier threats we faced over much of the twentieth century.  The West prevailed then but was much hampered by misevaluations of the hostile motivations of the other side, which diverted our citizens' attention from the realities.  Writing in the early nineteenth century, Thomas Macaulay expressed the hope that in the future our crises would be handled by people "for whom history has not recorded the long series of human crimes and follies in vain."

     Do our countries today meet Maccaulay's standard?  Alas, no.  Both the actions and intentions of the adversaries and the supporters of a plural society are still being misrepresented by some of those responsible for the transmission of Maccaulay's message.

-Robert Conquest, The Dragons of Expectation:  Reality and Delusion in the Course of History

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