History, they say, repeats itself. It seems that the statement portrays a fatalistic human condition for which mankind cannot free itself.
Nevertheless, history is nothing less than the function of the totality of human interactions through time and space; and since man’s essence- their mental and biological propensities can hardly change throughout time the appearance of recurrence of historical events may seem just an illusion. This is because the same human propensities – the motives and interests – that shaped the past, are also the same forces that are currently shaping our era, and so will the future that is to come. Hence it gives an appearance that ‘history repeats itself’ rather than the perennial or regularity of man’s motives and interests in shaping the course of human history.
There are recent events, in my country, the Philippines, and as well as on the international arena, that have prompted me to look into the past events. These events, in particular, are the consequential world-wide event of the two World Wars. It is not that I’m suggesting, with certainty, that the events of the past are now reoccurring or is bound to happen again in our generation, but it’s just that, the signs in our time can no longer be ignored. The recent social rumblings that we’re witnessing may have some resemblance with the social upheavals leading to the second World War.
Today, we have two powerful country that are authoritarian in their essence- Russia and China; and China bordering to a nearly totalitarian state. Meanwhile, the West, particularly the US, are currently experiencing mass movements, akin to a mob, due to various socioeconomics factors; on top of the list is the rising social inequality. The times that we are in right now (the subconscious) resembles the times during the pre-WW2 era in Europe. Evidently, the present-day trends like conspiracy theories and misinformation; political polarization; and the rise of autocratic regimes, are no different in those days; these are just but the symptoms of the consequences of the same forces of human motives and interests that have shaped the social climate which ushered the rise of Totalitarian states prior to the second World War.
What are the factors in Europe that led to the rise of totalitarianism- Nazism and Bolshevism? In the Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt’s erudition transected the interdependent, complex human issues (psychology, sociology, politics and economics), and derived a clear panorama of the society of that period which culminated to the massacre of 6 million Jews and an estimated 7 to 9 million deaths in Stalinist Russia.
I’m currently on to the last two remaining chapters of the book, and I have yet to derive this complex historiography into a one-paragraph synopsis, but I think I have to make an extra effort to present it, rather, in a way that does not assuage its mind-illuminating thesis.
to be continued….