Readers answer: What are the lessons of history and why not learn them? | Life and elegance

What are the lessons of history and why not learn them? Thomas Jefferson Noland, Yorkshire

Submit new questions to nq@theguardian.com.

Readers reply

“The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history” (Friedrich Hegel). “History makes wise men” (Francis Bacon). I think the truth lies somewhere in between. johannes 07051833

Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. By this measure, we are not learning from the lessons of history because we are crazy. As to what these lessons are, one of the lessons to be loud is to attribute quotes to Einstein without evidence. BellaTheCook

A good example of this is the faltering economy, that failed in three separate centuries From the 19th century onwards but Rishi Sunak is still determined to revive it with a different look. Another is a corporate tax cut in the hope that companies will invest in jobs. The United States tried it, and what often happened was that directors’ salaries rose until companies spent their tax cuts on buying back their stock. Another good example is the idea that increasing penalties reduces crime. Germany found that the best solution was to discover and catch more criminals. Diogenesvan

Ah yes, but I think you are making a mistake there, about whether or not the people who propose misleading economics really think it will work, or have any interest in doing so. Paolo 777

Punishing the poor will not make them rich. yahoo

Never get involved in a land war in Asia. Sagarmatha 1953

I think the most important lesson history has taught us is that a competent leader is an essential figure of the population. Sophia Batavarano

Do not return to your handbag. griffon

Do not follow the leaders and View parking meters. Simon Kennedy

Lots of ways to make money destroy the planet. A lot of us learn, but money owners and shareholders don’t because they think their money is more important. Unfortunately for all of us, they will eventually learn. Nora Boswell

There are a lot of indisputable lessons. The American economy was tumbling through crash after crash until banking was regulated in the Great Depression, and then when these regulations were removed under Reagan it went back into a slump. It’s not really a mystery. I know Republicans are trying to ignore that, but it doesn’t rely so much on a different perspective on history as it does: “Don’t look there!” Thomas 1178

If there is a lesson to be learned from history, rather than our own personal experiences, it seems that there is no end to the cruel, sadistic, and selfish cruelty that people will allow themselves to show, once they are in a position. To do this, and no one will stop them. pilot

Each generation believes that the problems they face are unique, and do not imagine for a moment that any human being or society has faced the same dilemma. As such, any possible lessons from the past are ignored, or even not taken into account, with the “that was then, that is now” attitude. The solution is there, it’s been used before, just see if the past can provide the answers. Lycurgianate

Overall, that’s something to say when you lost the argument the last time. So now you want the next generation to do the same cause again for you, ideally with a heavy dose of “I told you so”. Mickey Vin

History is a single unrepeated process and we can learn nothing from it. John Owens

Learning is an intellectual and emotional process. Emotional learning often has a larger role in behavior change. We may learn intellectual lessons from history books but not emotional ones. Maxtube

The study of history involves at least two different viewpoints: that of the present, when we read and observe what happened in the past; And seeing the past itself, what they said, did, felt, experienced at that time. The closest and best analogy I can think of is that of parallax: “The effect that the position or orientation of an object appears to change when the object is viewed from different positions” (OED entry for parallax). Therefore, there are very few absolute history lessons. (One of the absolute lessons – that we have learned and continue to learn – is that human rights are universal and non-negotiable.) And there is much to learn from history, for both our present and our past. But what are these lessons? For most things, it’s too early to tell. Chris Loughlin

It was only when I went to the European Hansemuseum in Lübeck, Germany that I realized that the trading system they established about 700 years ago was very sophisticated. Then I found myself amazed that people could have such complex ideas, and then I found myself wondering why I thought these people were somehow dumber than me. Then I realized that humans are doomed to make the same mistakes forever because we are outrageously conceited. Pride and complacency are our downfall. reptiles

There is no such thing as “history lessons”. At best, it is a comparison between what we think happened, according to the imperfect way history is recorded, and what we think could have happened had different decisions been made. In other words, there is no real value at all. AlGlago

“Science enables human beings to satisfy their needs. Do nothing to change them. They are no different today than they have always been. There is progress in knowledge, but not in morals. This is the rule of both science and history, and the viewpoint of every world religion.” (John Gray, Straw Dogs). violator

Because the rich and powerful are promoting the idea that “history is bullshit” so that they can continue as before. ThePunkOpaque

We are learning the lessons of history. This is why society in general is much richer, healthier, more peaceful, and has a longer life than it was hundreds of years or even decades ago. People might say this is largely about science and technology, but these are two of the most important tools we’ve developed to help us learn and solve the lessons and problems of history. short cook

My observation is that history and religion are similar in that people choose the parts that support what they want to believe and ignore anything that is contradictory. Today’s social media, et al., greatly support this. Wilson McIvor, Virginia

The practice of drawing lessons from history is fraught with difficulties. Things change, which makes direct comparison difficult. Given the breadth and depth of history, which exists as a body of interpretive practice rather than an aggregation of facts, the lessons apparent will also differ from one writer to another. This has a direct bearing on why the “lessons” are not learned; Oftentimes, the primary thing that must be excluded from an event is the continued marginalization of minorities or those outside of power, to maintain a certain social order. Since history, until relatively recently, was written overwhelmingly by people who benefited from this marginalization, readers of their texts are unlikely to learn the lesson about how power works, because their history was intended to disguise those functions and to make their social status “normal”. TLDR: History is all about strength and the Force loves to accumulate strength for itself. Mitch Goodrem, Oxford

We can’t control history,
Legs very close to the back.
We live and learn
Then you die and forget
And so our mind slips.
Barnard Towers, Norfolk

Leave a Comment