History… it’s all in the past, what can we learn from history? Well, the typical answer would be that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Not completely true though is it? There are obviously fantastic examples of this happening, those who have failed to invade Russia or Afghanistan; the economic crisis we find ourselves in, although different origins have had very similar trajectories. Unfortunately, even those people who have learnt from the past, (let’s face it Gordon Brown and George W. Bush had history degrees) have messed it all up royally or just a little depending on your political stance.
The main thing to learn from history is that the impact of anything that as ever happened will still be felt, today, tomorrow or in another 1000 years’ time. Whether it is the invention of the wheel or the tragedies of 9/11, they have affected our current life, culture and society as a whole. The potato famine in Ireland in 1740 explains two seemingly unrelated things: firstly the huge number of Irish Americans and for sports fans the origins of the Boston Celtics NBA side, and secondly Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s love for the Irish Republic. We get from the Boston Celtics to Desmond Tutu in one easy step. This is how history works.
Every rivalry on the planet is explained somewhere in history, England and Scotland, England and Australia, England and USA, England and pretty much anybody else, is all explained through expansion and empire.
Learning from history itself is dangerous because, like everyone else, the historians have their own agendas, whether they are political or nationalistic. The clearest examples of these are the Marxist historians who see history as a march forward at the expense of oppressed people and the feminist historians who focus on women’s history and how they have been oppressed by men over centuries, as well as how strong women have changed the course of history. This is a very simplistic way of looking at it, which will be focused on in greater detail in the future. The article today is admittedly a little disjointed and future articles will not be so erratic.
To conclude: history, despite the views of many, is important; we cannot look at the present without appreciating the past. Who you decide to clearn your history from is also vitally important, one historian will tell you that France were the proverbial dog’s gonads of the military world (there is evidence for it), others will argue that Grounds Keeper Willie was correct when he called them ‘cheese eating surrender monkeys’. Either way what you learn will prove to shape the way you view life and society. This is why history is important.
‘The first civilization to wear wigs as we know them was the Egyptians.’
Now, you can annoy people with that until you get sent to a dark room with no internet and only slightly fizzy water for sustenance.
By Thomas Rigg