History teaches nothing, Sting sings on the album ‘Nothing like the sun’. Indeed, I think that’s true. People do learn, but the question is if we, as human species, learn. I don’t mean learning in a cognitive way. Sure, we now know a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff more than ever, but do we learn to change our behaviour in order to save ourselves from human disasters and even extinction?
Yes, you might argue. We don’t fight wars on the level of villages anymore. True, but isn’t that a matter of scale? If you look at the conflicts of, let’s say the last century, the number of casualties per armed conflict is absolutely and relatively unprecedented. My statement would be that the underlying mechanisms that start such a conflict have not changed a lot over time.
Look at politics. Why are - objectively observed - megalomanias and wrong men ‘choosen’ by so called sane people over and over again (yes, mainly men, but do not overestimate the attitude of women looking at a conflict starting mechanism like power. I’ve seen the documentary The Kingmaker about Imelda Marcos. An ancient Greek drama of a deranged, vengeful wife and mother.)? As if it is our human desire to be fooled by words.
It’s September 2020 as I write this. Take the USA as just one example. Who, outside the states, will vote for Trump? A man stamped with the words ’devastating for office and democracy’ in capital letters. My personal guess would be this man will be wiped away, almost whoever his opponent will be. Yet, the chance of getting re-elected is substantial.
So, my CSPE question is: why do we make the same mistakes over and over again, even when our own future is at stake?