George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are bound to repeat it,” which cuts particularly deep this week for those who have been keeping up with the news. In America, communism is ‘in’ on college campuses, the media is actively attempting to push us into a cold – possibly hot – war with Russia, and now we are contemplating whether or not a repeat of the Korean War is worth it. It’s official, we’ve been thrown back to 1950 – at least politically.
It’s amazing how many people, given the overwhelming abundance of historical evidence against their case, will try to operate as if we haven’t dealt with our current predicaments before.
Libertarians have become rather well-versed with this line of reasoning, from the responses you get anytime you ask a collectivist where their theories have worked. “That wasn’t real [insert failed ideology]!” they’ll say, as they attempt to convince you to try some old-fashioned theory dressed up in a revamped, modern-day term. In 2016, for example, we had a self-described ‘democratic’ socialist almost win the Democratic Party’s nomination, if it wasn’t for the party eating its own. Seeing students in America embrace a broken system with messianic zeal reveals just how blatant our regard for historical evidence has become.
And it’s the same story when you ask Republicans as well; just mention foreign policy. No matter which failed attempt at regime change you bring up, the neo-cons always seem to be convinced that this time will be different. Never mind the fact that when pressured into explaining why, the best response you’ll get will be “Make America great again.”
Who’s to blame for this lack of basic historical knowledge though?
Is it our public education system, with their appalling literacy rates and test scores? Or perhaps it’s our media outlets, who openly claim it’s their job to ‘scare people to death’ in order to push the narrative they want imposed. They successfully polarized both sides so extensively in the last election that our political sphere looks more like the 1850s than the 1950s in that respect.
In actuality, it’s all our faults, though. Anyone with an internet connection has the ability to learn history, yet the overwhelming majority do not.
Now, if you observe American politics through any sort of objective lens, it would appear as though George Orwell’s predictions have come true. “War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength” was the mantra of the Party in the dystopian novel, 1984. Nowadays, Republicans are claiming to achieve peace from war; Democrats are espousing policies that say freedom will bring slavery; and everywhere, you see ignorance on both sides being rewarded as strength. We’ve all heard the ‘#FakeNews’ accusations being used on both sides. “You mustn’t let those ‘other’ people tell you lies” they like to say as the majority of Americans eat up the propaganda, leaving those of us who study history left to look on in horror.
Unless we’re willing to admit that some of the decisions made in the past were, in fact, mistakes, we’ll sentence ourselves to suffer more loss of life in vain. Regardless of affiliation, let’s allow ourselves to examine and consider the events of the past as they relate to our current situations. Because remembering history is crucial in making the correct political choices today. We may not be able to undo our mistakes, but we can certainly learn from them.
Let’s embrace our history and stop pretending that any ‘hot’ war, whether it be North Korea, Russia, or any of the superfluity of countries we’ve been involved in militarily the past 15 years will ever result in an improvement by any measurable account. Let’s stop acting like more freedom for the individual in society will result in ‘slavery’ for the rest of us. And for the love of God, let’s recognize that collectivist attempts at egalitarianism never bear the results that they were ‘supposed to’ on paper. This way we can spare our children from having to find themselves being thrown back into the political nightmare that 2017 has been fifty years from now. Let’s get our act together, America.
Featured image: Encyclopædia Britannica
Thomas J. Eckert
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