Essay No. 175:
We Learn From History That We Do Not Learn From History: It is a quotation that runs in a paradox. The first part of the quotation means that man tries to learn from history while the other part shows that he does not learn from it. It creates a paradoxical type of situation. It warrants a discussion to examine the nature of paradox in question.
Man learns through history that war is the most detestable thing. It brings wholesale destruction in its wake. It causes colossal devastation of human life and property. It destroys economies which fact further imposes hardships of severe nature on the survived. Yet man has been waging wars against his fellow human beings at different times since the creation of the world.
Man is intoxicated with power phobia and does not feel any compunction in infliction war on the weak. ‘Might is right’ principle incites him to commit violence against the weaker species. The world is thus theater of war, which has been witnessing the perpetration of atrocities, cruelties against the weak by the strong. The fighting instinct is not going to leave man.
That is the constant companion of man under all conditions. Strong nations like US are ever in a mood to commit aggression against the weak nations in order to fulfil their hegemonic designs. The US knows the horrendous consequences that could flow out of launching aggression, since history teaches man of that, but no amount of appeals could cut ice with the US as it would continue mounting the horse of power and might.
Nothing could desist it form following the course of aggression followed by immense destruction. The US would like to satisfy its propensity of domination, no matter it spreads colossal destruction in the world. Americans know history, but they would not listen to its call, and that amounts to not learning form history.
Every living dictator knows the fate of his predecessors. Dictator’s psychology is identical. Every dictator, knowing fully well the lapses on his predecessor, follows the same route leading to his and the nation’s ruination. He is well-aware of the history of his predecessors yet he repeats the same follies and lapses, which contribute to his ultimate fall.
One may say that every dictator learns form history, and yet unlearns form it in that the vigorous pursuit of the track of his predecessors leading to the decimation of national institutions, precipitates his downfall. In a bid to perpetuate his power, a dictator can go to any extent. Pervaiz Musharraf did incalculable harm to the national institutions including the judiciary, whom it feared not to legitimize his illegal incumbency of President Ship.
He plunged the nation to a series of crises just to prolong his dictatorial rule. Ultimately he had to go unsung. The point to consider is that all dictators know the fate of their predecessors and yet feel impelled to follow in the track of ruination. One may say that they unlearn form history, and that’s why they have to relive the sordid legacies of their predecessors.
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Out politicians have not learnt much from history that is why they are inclined to repeat the past mistakes. They know it very well that if they don’t play the game of democracy according to rules, it would pave way for the emergence of anti-democratic forces. Yet they are intent on creating the old atmosphere of acrimony to let democracy derail owing to lack of tolerance.
The ruling party must hear the existence of opposition. The present tug of war between PML (N) and PPP in Punjab forebodes not well in the interest of political stability. The rulers know the past history, but still demonstrate their ignorance about it. When they are inclined to fight like elephants to undermine the cause of democracy.
One wishes sanity were to dawn on the rulers to show a spirit of mutual accommodation to run the state craft, there by plugging holes for the undemocratic forces to creep in sneakily.