Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/06/03/may-feel-1930s-history-doesnt-have-repeat-itself
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it’s natural manure.”
–Thomas Jefferson to Willams Stephen Smith, 1787
Trump is certainly a manure-filled tyrant, but clearly Jefferson was fully aware that patriots (in the correct sense of the term) must sacrifice if the legacy of liberation is to be well stewarded.
The fact is that history doesn’t actually repeat itself. History is very much like a river. You could stand in one spot and say ‘the water keeps repeating itself’. Yes the water flowing by does ‘repeat’ itself because water molecules behave in similar ways, as they always have. People are the ‘river of history’s’ molecules and we behave in those same human specific ways just as we always have. So in a sense - history doesn’t repeat itself… but people do.
Our ‘range’ of behavior is broad but still we all respond to things in the same ways. For example - give us a birthday present and a hug then we are happy and if you steal our money then we are angry and sad. People could be said to repeat themselves when in similar circumstances. If conditions in the present era begin to resemble the conditions of the '30’s’ then some people today will act just as did some people back then. Therein lies the underlying power that lies behind propaganda or advertising for that matter. People do repeat themselves given similar conditions or as in this case, similar attitudes.
Whatever made life the ‘30’s’ so fertile a ground for fascism is perhaps what is now repeating itself not history. Then the ‘tools’ used by autocrats and anti-democratic forces were relatively new (like radio and mass communications including telephones). In the ‘30’s, some people became addicted to ‘the medium is the massage’ of MacCluhan. Dictators grabbed hold of their countries’ media and communications and ‘injected’ fascism into their society as a whole. In our society however, everyone is so dependent on ‘electronics’ that we no longer have a society without them. We take for granted that virtually everyone has a cell phone, radio and TV. One could almost imagine that Hitler would have made it a law requiring people to have had them if he had had them available. He did make radios cheap and easily available to people.
In our society the medium has become the massage but also the medium has become the message in many ways too. People tune in to Fox News to experience its message as a massage! They want to hear the news and experience the world view through Fox New’s specific biases and interpretations. Trump - the media personality, makes use of Twitter to plant his views on a daily if not hourly basis. Directed and filtered mass communication both immediate and frequent.
In our society, some people will repeatedly tune in to a fascistic message to get its massage. Other people (those with the means i.e. power and or wealth) will, of course, tailor their message to be a manipulative massage on purpose, directing it to what they know is a willing audience.
History doesn’t repeat itself … people do. Some people want it to, that’s why!
The shoe rack of the soulless
Guccis on the greedy’s feet
Jackboots on our necks
That is the Democratic dilemma. Democratic presidential candidates all over it like flies on … uh, never mind.
If Jefferson were alive today, I am sure he would say: “THAT TIME IS NOW” !
True - as mental health professionals know, particularly those treating substance abuse addiction, victims of domestic abuse or sexual abuse – unresolved issues are passed down from generation to generation. Personally, I think fascist tendencies of today’s recent era are but an extension of Ice Age primitive survival mindsets – “Us v. Them” attitudes, mythologizing the “ethnic nationalism” of extremist patriarchal societies, “dysfunctional behavior” passed down from generation to generation resulting in never ending military conquest over the millennia. These attitudes are a holdover from ancient primitive times when our collective ancestors knew so little about their world and had so very little control over meeting their basic needs, particularly in harsher, traumatic climates – hence, the need to “exploit scarce resources,” “eat or be eaten”, create ever more superior weapons for sheer survival of “the tribe”. There was no technology to instantly communicate across great distances to share information and resources and avert the worst aspects of scarcity as we have today. In this 21st century, the elites are still reacting with the same genocidal hypervigilance as tribal/feudalistic/national alliances of old. Exploitation, greed that led to the rise of civilizations relied on subjugation, slavery, indentured servitude, still belies today’s wealth inequality. The outdated obsession with ever more superior weapons that meant the difference between survival or death, the rise and fall of civilizations, is leading today to the destruction of the earth’s biosphere that Homo Sapiens evolved in over millennia. Today, 500 years after the globalization of Western Civilization, humanity as a whole is still very fragmented, still coping with same old fearful, exploitative mindsets, but now coupled with new technology that is rapidly changing our natural world and even the climate with exponential suicidal hyperdrive by comparison from previous generations. Billions are spent on weapons of mass destruction, driven by economic globalization and climate change denial over our natural resources, threatening a million species – including ourselves – with extinction. Roughly half our society is failing to see that a massive social paradigm is necessary – one of realizing that we are indeed all a global family deeply into the past and around the world. We have so much instant communications technology to share information and resources to avert the worst aspects of scarcity to help meet all our basic human needs for clean water, food, shelter, education, health care, aging with dignity – and create a more safer and peaceful world that our collective ancestors have long craved and died fighting for, never imagining a world we now know today. We, their descendants are on the cusp of living their dream, one where it is possible to live a life, contribute to the betterment of society with our full potential, to create a world that reflects the true meaning of life…that it was meant to be led with love. What else is life for? Why are we all sentient, feeling human beings in control of our destiny? What is the meaning of our existence? Why waste it on endless dysfunction and hate? We must all awaken and heal. We need global healing.