there is nothing new under the sun
let's repeat the right parts of history
i love old vignettes about politics and society.
they provide such profound insight into the gestalts and foci of times past and great sweep of societal change.
but better still, they provide a look at the humans themselves and of human nature and societal relations and the great anchor of human constancy.
because people do not change and therefore neither do the predicaments in which they find themselves nor their perspectives about them.
truly, there is nothing new under the sun and those who lose sight of history find themselves repeating the bad parts.
the 1930’s were a time of fascism, technocracy, and vast increases in government power and reach. it kicked off in the teens with folks like wilson and managed to survive ww1 without too much global economic harm. but the interwar period was a disaster. the roaring 20’s popped and the vast and unprecedented incursion of government into the economy took a recession and turned it into the great depression. there was nothing special about that downturn. it was the response to it that made the distress durable.
the federal budget had been 2% of GDP under coolidge. it was rapidly 10% under FDR. this bought us stagnation, soup kitchens, and herds of itinerant labor traveling the roads seeking work.
then came ww2 and truly unprecedented spending and central economic control. federal outlays leapt to 40% of GDP. we got rationing, jingoism, and dkitat. and they wanted to keep it. FDR wins a 4th term in office, then dies. truman takes over and in 1947 is pushing the original “build back better” plan called “the marshal plan” (launched in 1948) to rebuild war ravaged europe and japan.
and the tricks and framings sounded an incredible amount like today right down to the need to strengthen european “allies” for fear of russian incursion unless we showered money on the problem. the commencement of the cold war coinciding with this desire to play nation builder (and all the grifter crony corporatist goodies that come with it) was no coincidence.
nothing unifies and engenders carelessness with purse strings like “war.”
and like today, this was the time when it was starting to be OK to call this out as twaddle and manipulation and speak against the fascist impulse. (this was too dangerous under FDR)
this is a cartoon from 1948. apart from the animation and the period costumes and idioms, most of the content could be written yesterday.
give it a watch.
pay particular attention to the bit about “using “ism’s” and race hatred and religious intolerance to rob the people of their freedom.”
the villain here is literally called “dr ism” and the formula he peddled then is still on sale today.
see if this rings any jingo bells.
it took some time, but this pattern that had been so prevalent was reversed and we got the 50’s and 60’s boom times.
this is not the end, it’s part of a cycle.
you can shrug this off, regain your wits and your society, and get the world back onto sensible and functional footing.
of course, one can then forget and wind up mired in 70’s stagflation and the brutal cure of the volcker recession, but that’s the price of failing to learn from history…
this is hardly the only example.
this is a translation from a 700 year old icelandic saga.
it appears that the vikings had already discovered millennials.
“the kids today are not a patch on how we were back in the day” has been the human refrain since time was time.
and, of course, the kids today have always been wont to blame the oldsters for whatever woes befall them as well.
somewhere on the wall of an ancient pharaonic necropolis are likely hieroglyphs to the effect of “built for king boomerses by generation 𓅂 who could not afford a house because their parents used up all the stones!”
if you go back far enough, you land on all kinds of identity politics as well and distaste for change.
the gentry despised children becoming tradesmen or entrepreneurs.
the serfs despised children abandoning the backbreaking work on the land and moving to cities.
this is all just more humanity being humanity.
all the argy, bargy, and recrimination of today has vast historical precedent. we’re not fighting some new battle in uncharted territory. we’re riding the well worn ruts of cyclical societal shiftings.
it’s easy to fall into the trap of presuming our forbears to have been stupid or unsophisticated because they “did not know stuff that everyone knows today” but that’s just knowledge.
they were just as smart and just as innovative.
they had all the insight into the human condition and the vicissitudes of politics and societal organization that we did.
and they made their catastrophic blunders and blowups just as spectacular, killed their empires with fiscal irresponsibility and nepotistic corruption just as we do, fell pray to the same demagogues selling the same shabby tropes just as we have, and rose against them and regained reason and liberty once more, just as we must.
that does not make it easy.
always, such great works are, well, work.
if winning liberty were easy, everyone would be free. all one can promise is the pursuit of happiness, never the catching of it.
but many before us have made good on this dream and so too may we should we apply ourselves.
the one sure way to fail to secure your dream is to believe it unattainable and taken from you. this renders your your own jailer, imprisoned in in your own mind.
anyone selling you the idea that the dream is dead and the opportunities gone is not enlightening you, they are offering you the chains in which to bind your peonage and dependency.
history is replete with generations lost to such engendered apathy.
but we need not travel such a road.
the sweep of history is cause for motivation not black pill cynicism and defeatism for just as we have, in the footsteps of our forbears, fallen prey to the same foibles and fallacies so too must we, as they did, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and once more reclaim our rights and righteousness and thereby commence to thrive as free people thrive.
the historical repetition ingrained in the constancy of human nature cuts both ways.
if history may teach us of how societies are deranged and led astray then so to can it stand testament to their ability to regain their proper paths and escape such subjugation.
history repeats, but the nature of the sequel is up for grabs.
choose the right path.
because we already know where the alternative leads, and do you really wanna go there?