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What have we learnt from history?

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:lamo Turkish consulate. denied.
 

Albert Di Salvo

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1. History is neither cyclical nor linear.

2. Don't fight unless your very life depends on it.

3. We have no friends.

4. Trust no one who has failed to prove her or his bona fides.

5. History seems cyclical only because the repetoire of human behavior is limited.

6. The strong survive, and the weak go the way of the Rapa Nui.
 
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Really? That sounds quite the pessimistic view of human accomplishment. Please elaborate.
I am not taking a pessimistic view of human achievement on the whole, there are simply caveats. In matters of technology, man has accomplished much, and has learned much from the efforts of the greats that came before them. However, technological progress does not necessitate moral progress. The world still exists in the same state of "all against all" that it did five hundred or twenty-five hundred years ago.

I will say that I am yet to be presented with a lesson mankind (in this case, the word "mankind" refers to the masses, not just men of particular genius) has learned from history. In my view, not only have we not learned from history, we cannot learn from history. Until millions of years of evolution leaves its mark, we will continue to be the same moral animal, and the past will repeat itself in cycles until the end of history.
 

Goshin

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I pose the question, you can answer it however you like. What have we learnt from history?

We have learned that communist countries fail,
that relatively free societies tend to prosper,
that tyrannical conquerors tend to bite off more than they can chew,
that no matter what you label a society, there will be haves and have-nots;
That few cultures are all good or entirely bad.
 

Yossarian

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One of my lecturers said a very interesting thing to me once: We don't 'learn' from history, we merely reinterpret it in changing contexts that may or may not be appropriate to the historical context itself.

To apply this idea to the Chaser video in the OP (which is admittedly very funny), the reason that the 'trojan horse' was successful was not because we have 'learnt' or 'not learnt' anything in particular, but simply because the historical context has changed so greatly that the military implications of the original 'trojan horse' are no longer relevant. So therefore, the Chaser were simply taking advantage of a changed historical context to make the (satirical) observation that the lessons of the original 'trojan horse' have not been heeded.

I would argue that assertions that the Iraq or Afghanistan wars will be seen as 'another Vietnam' are equally misplaced. Again, the context has changed too much to suggest that nobody has 'learnt' anything. Perhaps it is basic human nature to respond to events in a certain way, which has lead to the historically-similar outcomes in different contexts that lead people to think that 'history repeats itself'.
 

FluffyNinja

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I will say that I am yet to be presented with a lesson mankind (in this case, the word "mankind" refers to the masses, not just men of particular genius) has learned from history. In my view, not only have we not learned from history, we cannot learn from history. Until millions of years of evolution leaves its mark, we will continue to be the same moral animal, and the past will repeat itself in cycles until the end of history.
We have protected wetlands, established Natural Parks and wildlife preserves, all but abolished the legal slave trade over 150 years ago, created cures for diseases, protected endangered animal species, some nations (ie., US) have provided legal equality for women and ethnic minorities, we've established benevolent governments rooted in democracy, created pacts reducing weapons of mass destruction, have defended the weak and oppressed, and made strides in feeding the hungry. I could go on and on. Some philosopher, somewhere (I don't have the time to look it up) once said that "If all you look for is the negative in humanity you will certainly find it; However, if we search for the positive, we can certainly find it as well." I prefer to be a "glass-half-full" kinda guy - it just makes life so much more rewarding. :shrug:
 
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We have protected wetlands, established Natural Parks and wildlife preserves, all but abolished the legal slave trade over 150 years ago, created cures for diseases, protected endangered animal species, some nations (ie., US) have provided legal equality for women and ethnic minorities, we've established benevolent governments rooted in democracy, created pacts reducing weapons of mass destruction, have defended the weak and oppressed, and made strides in feeding the hungry. I could go on and on. Some philosopher, somewhere (I don't have the time to look it up) once said that "If all you look for is the negative in humanity you will certainly find it; However, if we search for the positive, we can certainly find it as well." I prefer to be a "glass-half-full" kinda guy - it just makes life so much more rewarding. :shrug:
How long do you think those things will last? I know the answer, and it is only until this or that crisis removes the thin veneer of civilization we live under.

After the Great War, people who sounded the same as you were abound. Everyone thought that they had seen the end of war, and that history was over, and that everything would be fine. Everyone said it was the "War to End All Wars." All it took was one country with a horrible economy and a history of antisemitism to strip it all away, at least until the next time.

All it will take is one episode of "Great Powers Gone Wild" to show us that we haven't come as far as we think we have.
 

FluffyNinja

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How long do you think those things will last? I know the answer, and it is only until this or that crisis removes the thin veneer of civilization we live under.

After the Great War, people who sounded the same as you were abound. Everyone thought that they had seen the end of war, and that history was over, and that everything would be fine. Everyone said it was the "War to End All Wars." All it took was one country with a horrible economy and a history of antisemitism to strip it all away, at least until the next time.

All it will take is one episode of "Great Powers Gone Wild" to show us that we haven't come as far as we think we have.
Your pessimism regarding the future "morality" of humanity does not detract from the fact that we (present-day civilization) have learned from past errors and HAVE made great strides in areas of conservation, human rights, science, etc. Whether or not this progress "carries over" to future generations is not really the question in the OP is it?
 

Paschendale

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I think we have become more moral over time. We have made progress in stopping sexual and racial discrimination. We have worked towards ending slavery. Bit by bit, we have become more civilized and less barbaric and warlike. Consider Rome, what we call one of the great civilizations of two thousand years ago. Slavery was commonplace, prowess in war was the road to riches, few people had the same rights at the highest members of society, women were property. A thousand years later, slavery was not quite abolished, but it was a bit softer. The first steps towards universal rights had come about. Attempts were made to reduce warfare and to protect innocent people who were caught up in the mix.

Now we have (mostly) universal suffrage, democratic governments all over the world, and a real concern for human rights. We've come along way. Imagine what the year 3000 will look like. I think it'll be pretty sweet.
 

Albert Di Salvo

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Silly notions of human perfectability by smart people who live in dying civilizations don't mean much to Anwar Al Awlaki and Samir Khan, or to Hu Jintao and Xi Sinjing.
 
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Your pessimism regarding the future "morality" of humanity does not detract from the fact that we (present-day civilization) have learned from past errors and HAVE made great strides in areas of conservation, human rights, science, etc. Whether or not this progress "carries over" to future generations is not really the question in the OP is it?
What have we learned exactly? A lesson is not learned if it evaporates it in instant. I suppose you're correct in a sense. We do learn, but those lessons never stick. We may have different ideas of what it means to learn from history.

Never, and they never will.
 

Mensch

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"We learn from history that we have learned nothing from history."

-George Bernard Shaw
 

Le Marteau

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Or if you will, do it from Asia, not Europe, the Mongols did a pretty good job.
Not even the Mongols managed to get up to the Free States in the north, in Karelia, Novgorod, and what would later be called Arkhangelsk. Furthermore, it was Russia, or the Kievan Rus anyway, that saved Europe from the brunt of Mongol attack, thus ruining Genghis Khan's dream of conquering all the way to the sea before he died.

So, still, never invade Russia. XD
 

cpgrad08

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That Communism does not take in Human Nature in the Equation.
 
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. . . then seeks to transform it.
Communism can't seek to do anything as it has no agency.

People seek to transform their environments and in so doing they transform themselves.

(Troll Response: Then maybe you could point out the human nature gene to us. :D )
 
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This is why human nature always causes communism, on a large scale, to fail.
In that case I would direct you back to my troll response.

On a more serious note, I would point out that communism is not something that can "succeed" or "fail". It is not a system that is applied and tested, the most obvious reason being that history is not made by experimental design.

Further, you don't even define what you mean when you say "communism". Communism as a socioeconomic system? It hasn't existed. Communism as in Marxist political theory? That has been proven correct time and again by the historical record.
 
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