Anatomy of Historical Amnesia

deleteBy: Zine Larbaoui, TLB Staff

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

Looking through the prism of History, it seems the fate of powerful empires from their rise to their decline, presents striking similarities. Those similarities include moral decay, pride and hubris. One does agree that we are repeating the mistakes of the past and should learn from them which beg the question: Why are we so willingly repeating the mistakes of the past? Viet-nam and Iraq showed us the perils and cost of quagmire, the Great Depression underscored the the recklessness of monetary policies and these are only a couple of the mistakes we keep repeating.

America-Forgotten-History[1]We do live in an information and disinformation age where any data is available in a click. Though the Internet makes eons of history instantly available, the 24-7/365, moment-to-moment storm of digital screamfests, blogs, posts, tweets, e-mail alerts and “breaking news” graphics makes last week’s news feel old, and last month’s news feel positively paleolithic. Add to this reportage that is increasingly presented with zero context, and it’s clear that journalism is sowing mass senility, leading us historical amnesia.

Politicians also contribute significantly to the problem. With permanent campaigning, both parties deliberately focus only on the very recent past , thereby ignoring the larger historical record. From the national debt to poverty to the downsides of American empire, Republicans tell us it’s all the fault of Democrats’ leadership, while Democrats blame it on earlier Republican tenure, the charade is decades long.

And there is ideology. With the present so radically departing from our past, history has become a damning package of inconvenient truths — and those truths are often shunned because they threaten today’s most powerful ideological interests.

No matter the issue, this axiom is the same: As Wall Street hit and run legal heists demonstrates, money has a vested interest in burying history, history is inevitably buried, ultimately leading us from Santayana and Berra’s aphorisms to Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same things over and over again and somehow expecting different results.


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