Historical Lessons

Alright, so we’re making progress.  We’ve seen that change starts at an individual level by seeing the opinions of those you respect change, combined with enough time to think about it and let it sink in at an unconscious level.  We’ve also explored some effects of change at a larger level, where trolls will try and tear down either the status quo, or more often a new change.  And we’ve seen some aspects of the nature of trolls themselves, where some tear down to watch the world burn, and others tear down to rebuild something better from the ashes.  Now let’s look at how these ideas have played out over history, with the goal of seeing how our future may play out.

The two biggest changes that I’m aware of in the 20th century were Nazism and Communism.  Nazism because of the far reaching effects of WW 2, and Communism because of the sheer number of people who fell under its power.  In both cases the people who started these movements had a specific philosophy behind their actions. In the case of Nazism it was the supremacy of German biology and culture.  In the case of Communism it was that workers would rise up and seize the means of production.  They both largely failed.  Nazism has fallen so far out of favor that the word Nazi is synonymous with evil, and while ostensibly there still are Communist countries, the largest of which is by far our biggest trading partner, not exactly something McCarthy would have seen coming.  Why is that?  Germany, as a country, was a very powerful one in the early 20th century.  Technologically, they had a lot of advantages.  Indeed, one of the reasons that the US did so well after WW 2 was that we brought back a great deal of German scientists who got citizenship and a clean record in exchange for their knowledge.  And the sheer number of Communists in the world seemed to suggest it was a successful philosophy.  So why did they fail?

The answer to that is something I’ve been talking about for months.  Nothing is really true or false, it only describes the world to more or less accurate degrees.  While both Nazism and Communism had complete philosophies with which to build on, those philosophies did a lousy job of describing the world.  As long as a better philosophy existed it really didn’t matter what tactics were used in the war between them.  The lousy philosophy would fail, sooner or later.

For balance, let’s look at some positive changes we got out of the 20th century, women’s rights and civil rights.  In both cases there was massive backlash against things like getting women’s rights to vote, and black people’s rights to exist, but ultimately few would argue that black people should go back into slavery, and women should be barred from voting.  Again, the reason for that victory is simple.  The story that women and minorities are equal to everyone else is a story that describes the world much better than portraying those groups as subservient.  It doesn’t matter how they chose to fight.  Sooner or later, they would win.

I think we’ve finally arrived at a place where we can start to get a view of how our world will look in the future, both near and a little further away.  Tomorrow.


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