June 19, 2017

History has a bad rap. Henry Ford said, “History is bunk.” The philosopher Hegel agreed, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” Huck Finn agreed, “by and by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time: so then I didn’t care no more about him, because I don’t take no stock in dead people.”

Many, if not most, people today would agree with Huck, Hegel, and Henry. Which is a shame. On the other hand, I claim we can learn a lot from the past. Not so much from the details that history buffs and professional historians are fond of but from the big ideas that have supported and dominated previous Ages. Specifically, the ideas we willy-nilly have inherited from past Ages– the 100,000-year-long Hunting/Gathering Age and the 10,000-year-long Agricultural Age that followed.

I summarized my speculations in a series of videos, all now available free on YouTube–Democracy Democracy in World History and Democracy—the Basics. If you are interested in ideas I recommend them.

Here are some highlights:

Part 1: Democracy in Ancient TimesWorld.

Includes the nasty, brutish, short, and cannibal-filled lives of primitive tribal people on all continents in the Hunting/Gathering Age. This was the age when Homo sapiens evolved in competition with other omnivores, carnivores, and other members of the family Homo. Program also surveys the first attempts at democracy in the Agricultural Age of ancient Greece, Rome, and Medieval Europe, pointing out that they did have some features of democracy, but were forced to rely on serfs. peasants, or slaves to do the scut work.

Part 2: Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment

A critical time for Modern Age Democracy. Islamic and Jewish cultures were actually superior through most of the Middle Ages. Islam faltered and left it to Jews and Christians to pioneer the first steps in the democracy direction. A popular video that explains why the Enlightenment is so important to the founding of the USA and the Modern Age.

Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1CHytlrosM&t=7s

The Industrial Revolution, Capitalism, and the United States of America

Gives a good summary view of why I, and others, look on this country as exceptional. Not because our citizens are better than other countries but because we founded and led the way into the Modern Age. I also claim this Modern Age is uniquely founded on three factors—science and technology, free-market Capitalism, and Freedom of (and from) Religion.

It also highlights the most important by far of the memes (cultural ideas, traits, behaviors, and beliefs) inherited from both the 100,000-year-long Hunting/Gathering Age and the 10,000-year-long Agricultural Age. This meme is now a reactionary view of wealth and resources as land and resources. It was true in hunting/gathering times where it led to constant wars between tribes to get and hold the better hunting and gathering land. It was also true in agricultural days for the similar obvious reasons. It led to countless savage bloody imperialist wars to gain resources like oil, gold, other minerals, and living space for expanding populations It is a very reactionary view in the Modern Age where wealth depends not on land and resources but on efficiency and creativity.

Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UzcHJpMjdQ&t=17s

The Communist Challenge

In the 19th century Karl Marx saw capitalism as uniquely progressive and uniquely evil. Capitalists brought progress and wealth but to the owner bourgeoisie not to the worker proletariat. In fact Marx saw all history as a fierce struggle between evil owners and slave workers, and the workers would inevitably win. Later socialists like Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, and Bernie Sanders emphasized the evil (capitalist corporations) and neglected the progressive (growth). The result was disaster in socialist countries in the 20th and the 21st centuries.


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