Why does history repeat itself over and over again
Rules and regularities in human history
History repeats itself:
Understanding historical events in their origins can actually be quite easy if you look at them in terms of the history of human development and our civilization. To do this, the first step is to go back several million years and dare to compare it with the animal kingdom.
It is noticeable that humans are typical herd animals. Comparable to monkeys and cloven-hoofed animals. And that's how he lived in primitive society. If man were a loner, like cats or bears, then a civilization could never have emerged, because communication would then have been limited to the requirements of reproduction. And loners would certainly not have survived in the African savannah.
Since we humans are gregarious animals, we behave accordingly in spite of all progress to this day. This explains our nature in the group, especially our behavior as a member of a group, very well. And if you observe yourself once, you will also find out how difficult it is for us to be the only member of a group to have a contrary opinion.
It is generally known and can also be seen everywhere in the animal kingdom that there is a leader in every herd. Otherwise the herd would not exist as such, since then each individual would do something different. Applied to humanity, this means that every group needs a leader, i.e. a boss.
Now another law that applies to life comes into play: impermanence and mortality. A squad leader never stays in power forever. He has to be replaced sooner or later. A successor is therefore always necessary. And this successor has to be on his feet before the old ruler loses his skills. That is why the old head is regularly challenged by potential successors. This ensures that the new boss also has enough assertiveness and is really suitable for leading the group. This leads to power struggles in both the animal kingdom and human society. Applied to our present day, they are not only the natural cause of the division of political power into government and opposition, but also for wing struggles within the parties and, in extreme cases, for civil wars.
Let us now come to the behavior of the groups among themselves. There seem to be contradictions here, which are likely to have arisen from natural causes. On the one hand, the group has to delimit itself in order to preserve its own species in order to avoid mixing with similar species (e.g. with the Neanderthals who once lived at the same time). On the other hand, a mixing of small groups is also necessary biologically in order to maintain sufficient genetic diversity.
As a result of these two requirements, typical behavior patterns evidently developed in us at the beginning of human incarnation, which, however, often appear much more consistent in comparison to the animal kingdom. In any case, much more aggressive. What is meant here is the killing of conspecifics *, which can also be observed in other primates. This behavior can often be observed not only between groups of people, but also when dealing with competitors within one's own group.
We simply cannot deny it: The murderous fight against our fellow species is and has always been part of our history. Likewise, defeated enemies are taken over into their own group again and again. Obviously this happened in prehistoric times. At least this is suggested by many of our present day idiosyncrasies that we undoubtedly inherited from our ancestors. This behavior is not only the cause of violence and war, it was also the fuel for the formation of states and thus for the emergence of our civilization in the first place.
Even in primitive society, the defeated, mainly women and children, were often integrated into their own tribe. But rarely on an equal footing. After all, you belonged to the enemy group. As a result, they had to do the less popular jobs, which apparently included sexual services.
Even if there is still a lot of research to be done, the implications of this are obvious. Several typical phenomena can be explained in this way: Slavery, the emergence of class societies with classes and castes as well as the frequent oppression and forced marriages of women (Nevertheless, there were always women who were not oppressed. And some of them even became tribal leaders , Queens, empresses, presidents, prime ministers and federal chancellors).
Something else is typical of our group dynamics: The external enemy is regularly needed to strengthen the group internally. In this way, deviants and competitors of the ruler become obedient subjects. That is the mundane means of keeping them engaged. It's a principle that works very well again and again.
For the optimal development of the enemy image necessary for this, hardship and envy are helpful, or in other words, great differences in the way of life. To this day, this has caused historical processes to follow the same pattern over and over again.
It was the same in the millennia-long epoch in which we went from nomads to sedentary farmers. Often the progressive peasants were better off than those who traveled around. And always at some point the farming communities were conquered by neighboring, mostly nomadic tribes out of need or greed, until they were later overrun by the next nomadic tribe.
Since the writing of history gradually began during this period, this was also researched with increasing accuracy by science. It happened particularly often in Mesopotamia, but also in ancient Egypt, India, China and even in Latin America, which at the time was so isolated.
The survivors of the conquered tribe were always available to the conquerors. Often they ended up directly in slavery as prisoners of war. Other winners, however, were clever. The conquered peasants were now protected by the new rulers, who now supervised everything as soldiers with the king at their head. In return, the long-established residents had to pay taxes to the aristocracy thus created. It can therefore be assumed that tribute payments and protection rackets are the oldest taxes in the world. This can also be seen in the fact that something like this happens to this day in the so-called underworld and in the third world. At the same time, the creation of boxes and stands also ensured that everything always stays as it is. The descendants should also benefit later from the takeover of the foreign people. For the same reason, the management positions were and are gladly passed on, which repeatedly led to the emergence of hereditary monarchies and hereditary dictatorships (although there is no difference here apart from the designation).
This is how the states originally came into being. For thousands of years, foreign rule was therefore the rule and not the exception. Up until the 20th century it did not even matter who was king or emperor in charge of the state. It was only important that he came from the high nobility. In the First World War, this ultimately led to the German Kaiser Wilhelm II even waging war against his cousins, the Russian Tsar Nicholas II and the British King George V. The First World War was thus also a family feud, although the British king had no influence on what happened.
But the fact that the state is responsible for more than just war, which we take for granted today, is a development that only began to emerge around the world around 200 years ago. Charities and responsibilities by the state were previously only the exception - even if they already existed in ancient times for certain strata of the population.
Although all historical events proceed very differently, one can find the same basic pattern to a greater or lesser extent over and over again. These are due to our mostly unconscious behavior. However, we rarely recognize this, as we are also masters of self-deception, as behavioral and brain researchers have now confirmed.
To understand our current history, I would like to mention another important aspect here: Sometimes we change groups, look for a new leader as a team or conquer power as an originally oppressed group. That was the case in many revolutions, but also with German reunification. The idea of democracy was demonstrably realized 2,500 years ago. The Athens city-state was thus able to develop its power and a little later the almost explosively growing Roman Republic emerged in a similar manner. A later example of comparable processes was the emergence of the British Empire as a result of the export of British liberalism * that emerged in the Glorious Revolution. However, the expansion of the USA and the high level of immigration into this country were also a result of the significantly greater freedom compared to other countries. In all of these cases, better personal development resulted in strong economic and geopolitical growth. And even the Arab tribes united by Mohamed with the help of Islam were only able to rise to world power in the middle of the 7th century through their religious and thus also economic tolerance. Among them, science reached a new bloom. A situation that can no longer be imagined today in the Muslim countries that are increasingly falling into backwardness as a result of dogmatism.
But one can safely assume that democratic forms of coexistence existed long before that. There were also many democratic customs in medieval societies, especially in the cities. But also dukes and kings initially only came to power by election and even the kings elevated to emperors by the popes were elected in advance by a board of trustees until modern times (in later times, however, there was usually only one candidate) . However, corruption always played a major role in the elections.
Unfortunately, however, today's modern democracy and the responsible state have so far only inadequately asserted themselves. On the other hand, not every authoritarian state is bad from the start. Problems and crises can even be averted much more effectively here (but the risk of slipping into violence is then significantly higher). Everything always has two aspects, as the ancient Chinese recognized with their yin and yang.
That also seems to be the reason why what has been achieved is never established in the long term. Aristotle already described this dynamic as a constitutional cycle with recurring processes. In the present, the growing disenchantment with politics shows the weaknesses of democracy very clearly. On the other hand, the increasingly serious global problems can only be solved through joint efforts. The methods of violence, war and oppression that have been repeated so far are and always were the wrong way to go. We humans always claim that we are capable of reasonable solutions. We should finally prove this permanently.
What will the future bring:
In practice, however, life always means change. Since power always corrupts, what has been achieved has to be fought for again and again. But that has never been permanent. But sometimes something like that succeeded at least for several centuries.
But even here the situations changed again and again. To come back to the example of the 500 year old Roman Republic. Several popular uprisings are recorded there from the time of the republic. These were directed against the patricians and the senate they ruled. From a linguistic point of view, however, it must originally have been the fathers who took over political power after the overthrow of the last Etruscan king. After all, the fathers also had significantly more life experiences. But they became corrupt. In addition, they helped their descendants to better economic conditions and provided them with good offices. The term for the class of patricians arose from the Latin term "patres" (German for fathers). This ruling group was later controlled by the elected tribunes and thus severely restricted in their ability to act. A very stable system emerged, which was only destroyed by Gaius Iulius Caesar with the establishment of the first empire.
Nobody in our time knows whether the building of Western democracies and an international order that is currently practiced around the world with institutions such as the UN, the WHO and the IMF will really lead to global political stability at some point in the long term. In addition, we are still far from the desired goal. This is shown by the many wars that are still breaking out. In addition, there is already an urgent need for reform in those countries which appear to have already achieved the goal. Without a real abolition of lobbyism and party donations by influential minorities that are harmful to the common good and without effective taxation and the associated disempowerment of billionaires, this goal will never be achieved. Reforms are more than overdue. The rising election results of populist parties alone show that the air is already burning.
Falko GoethelWorld history on AmazonDB travel information
Additional articles on the following topics:
What I have said is a theory that is plausible and very likely, but like all theories does not necessarily have to be completely correct and should be further developed. These insights arose from my lifelong interest in historical events, in the global history of mankind, in natural sciences in general and in philosophers such as Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche. Hundreds of articles in newspapers and magazines, numerous books, countless television programs, publications on the Internet, social reviews, travel experiences (I have visited more than 30 countries and in some cases also worked there) and, last but not least, the sharp pen articles by satirists who often getting to the heart of the problem they criticized, gradually gave me this picture of history. It is therefore not a scientific work. So I can only give a few sources. In fact, almost all of the points I have addressed here have already been expressed and written down in this way or in a similar way by many other people. I have only summarized them here.
As a representative of my large number of sources, which are mostly difficult and often impossible to find, I would like the book "History at a Glance" by Imanuel Geiss because many mechanisms and the unity of historical processes are described in great detail, especially in the foreword and in the introduction. These findings have been briefly incorporated into my text above. In this book, however, the shortsightedness of contemporary history is rightly criticized. These are the cause of so many flawed and one-sided publications. Even if my publications are very likely to contain errors as well, I agree with Imanuel Geiss that further development of the science of history, which is currently largely equipped with blinkers, is urgently needed. Because only if we really understand what makes us tick do we have a chance to solve the problems in our globalized world. And it is globalized and is getting stronger and stronger as a result of technical progress, even if many duds among us do not want to admit it.
Comment on the killing of conspecifics:
As for the killing of members of our own species, our impressions can also be subjective. The media play a major role here, as, for example, violent clashes and wars are basically always reported and only rarely about normal everyday life. In addition, despite all research, our knowledge of the behavior of animals in the wild is still relatively imprecise.
Note on British Liberality:
The largely peaceful revolution of 1688/89 ended a 40-year phase of civil war and tyranny in Great Britain. Parliamentarianism and religious tolerance, which still exist today, were the result of this Glorious Revolution. Although the rights of individual citizens still differed greatly from today, religious tolerance in particular led to the emergence of liberalism and the associated realization of early forms of human rights (older evidence of the formulation of human rights, however, comes from African Mali (13th century) and from Memmingen (1525).
The associated freedoms led to economic prosperity and the beginning of industrialization with a tremendous technical superiority. Thanks in particular to the decades of activity by William Wilberforce, slavery was finally banned in the entire British sphere of influence in 1834. Both circumstances opened the door to the expansion of the British Empire into the greatest colonial power in history. British law now applied in all colonies, albeit with restrictions. For example, there was no right to vote in the colonies and the administration of taxes remained in England. These mistakes led to the secession of the USA in 1776 and finally to the collapse of the colonial empire in the 20th century. Nevertheless, there is still a close connection with the former motherland. This shows the membership of most of the former colonies in the Commonwealth of Nations.
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