February 18, 2014

Why should we study history?

I have some stuff  I want to say, but the essays will be long and complex. That brings to mind two immediate problems; nay three. First, I have proven time and again I lack the requisite writing skills to present my postulations clearly. It is probably a good thing I turned away from my youthful dream of finding employment as a historian. Next, you do not want to read a long political essay. You are either on board with right thinking political expressions or you are at heart a bleeding fucking commie/commie-light, or idiot. Sadly, there is no other choice. There is no capitalist-light category. Finally, ranting and raving in these pages is akin to shouting at the wind. Even if I somehow found some up-to-this-point undiscovered writing skills and a willing audience, I am not sure I have the desire to spend hours researching and outlining the historical and political underpinnings of my thesis.

I have often stated my position that history never repeats itself. But it does provide a window to human behavior. History offers real-life lessons on the mistakes made by humans. The road to tyranny is a slow-moving highway. It is rush hour on the Dan Ryan, five o'clock on the 101, The George Washington Bridge after a Governor Christie temper tantrum. History is replete with examples of free men sliding into bondage.  The Roman Gracchi, the Empire of Napoleon, and yes, at the risk of losing all credibility, even the rise of Hitler are perfect examples of free citizens giving a little bit of freedom at a time until they wake one day living under the autocratic thumb of an Emperor, a king, a dictator.

So the President changes the implementation date of a law; big deal, say his supporters. The delay is what we all wanted anyway. Maybe he is bending the Constitution with his Executive Orders or his administration's failure to enforce laws he does not like. "What do I care?" says the truly ignorant. Heck, the Senate/Assembly/Reichstag/Congress cannot agree on the right path anyway. At least someone is willing to step up and do the right thing for the people...

Losing your freedom is a bit like being a little bit pregnant. It is an all or nothing proposition.

Ah fuck it. I was right in the first paragraph.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know all the fancy philosophical underpinnings of the arguments - but I know right from wrong.

I remember studying parliamentary procedure and hating it; but being aware that without it, meaningful discourse in a group setting would quickly devolve into chaos.

For that very reason, rules exist. The act of subverting rules weakens a structure. Rules say walls have to have adequate support. Altering or weakening that support brings the roof down.

Laws are rules with teeth. The majority (or their representatives) pass a law, fully aware that the intended consequences of violating the law have a stated and reasoned penalty. Beak the speed limit, pay the fine. Rob a bank, go to jail.

The system exists for a reason. Flagrant disregard for rules & laws can and will lead to breakdown of the structure.

I, like yourself, do not pretend to be a historical scholar. But I've read enough history to be fearful of the long term consequences of the short term actions of people willing to ride roughshod over laws and rules "because they know better".
Expediency leads to things like we are witnessing. We, as a society and civilization, will rue the day when public servants were allowed to disregard the laws enacted.

Anonymous said...

Amen

Anonymous said...

I wish I had stated it half so well

Joe

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