I was considering the nature of repeated mistakes. The sort where you find yourself going: “No, no, surely no one could make that mistake, again?!”
For example: Take the case of our almost constant mis-quoting of poor old George Santana. He actually said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Not “History repeats itself.”
Herein lies a major glitch in modern thinking. We have done away with our reference guide to past mistakes, i.e., History.
You may disagree with me on this; however, I believe I can support my thesis.
How many, today, know the Brothers Gracchi? Few in my experience. Yet we are in the process of trying and re-trying their formulas for “social welfare”. By the way, the Romans of their day executed the Brothers. Hmmmm, perhaps an adequate solution to our current amnesia?
Who remembers Sulla? He “gave us” the idea of paid informants and proscription lists…, yet do we speak of him? No. Why we don’t even seem to recall the Doge of Venice and the information boxes used by “right thinking Venetians” to denounce their fellows. Nor the delights of similar practices during the time of Torquemada. Ah, the joys of a history-less existence, an existence without a past …only a present. Cultural alzethiemers?
What about Adolf Hitler and his Fuhrer Order prohibiting malicious informing? His answer to those who sought the removal of persons …inconvenient to them. Even he finally learned.
Do we recall the capital flight from Iran, Germany, Russia, and a score of others, when taxes became too much and capital could not easily be moved, or retained by its earners. You know, when government began to consider that all money belonged to it, eh? Why if country’s remembered this what would the Swiss do? Watches and chocolates I expect.
Who even remembers Viet Nam? The USA spent 10 years, 50,000 American lives, and untold billions of US Dollars there and won nothing unless it was knowledge. From our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan…I must say it seems we have forgotten that lesson of the past. Ah well, the fun of paying for the same real estate twice, hmmm?
As expats, and soon to be expats, we have a duty to remember the past, the history, of our nations and the why (s) of our leaving. Else we will forget and make the same mistakes again – in our new existences. A consummation devoutly to be avoided – if I may paraphrase.
Romans once flocked to Britannia to avoid the more extreme actions of Rome and its Emperors. Expatting isn’t new or even a novel way to avoid régime extremisms. We just have no memory of it – seemingly. More and more we, the expat community, come to forget that the country’s we go to may well be less liberal, democratic, free than the USA, Great Britain, et alia, from which we come but offer to us more freedom than we enjoyed at “home” simply because we aren’t citizens of these countries. Not forgetting, of course. We do constitute a “cash cow” for them and so are ignored unless we become a problem.
Historically some expats have risen to high office and regard in the countries they moved to: John Paul Jones became a naval officer in both the USA and Imperial Russia, Thomas Paine, a hero to the early USA Republic – finally a poverty-stricken and ignored old man there, was an elected official in France…and a prisoner of the state. Ah, how changeable the adulation of the public, eh? Remember? How many do?