How can history help us now?

Are we doomed to repeat history’s greatest mistakes? In an opinion piece for Gazeta Wyborcza, Anne Applebaum implies that there’s no getting around it. It’s happening right now in Russia, China, Germany and the US. Do you see it in your country too?

Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland
Source: Gazeta Wyborcza

 How can
history help us now?

 - NewsMavens
Attribution: By Hb19821970 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Why this story matters:

Are we doomed to repeat history’s greatest mistakes? In an opinion piece for Gazeta Wyborcza, Anne Applebaum implies that there’s no getting around it. It’s happening right now in Russia, China, Germany and the US. Do you see it in your country too?

As proof, Applebaum points to Putin’s propaganda machine retelling the story of Stalin’s murderous reign in heroic tones to internally justify the military invasion of the Ukrain. She explains that the return to a Maoist rhetoric in China is also a tool -- Xi Jingping hopes to use it against his opposition. She sees similar mechanisms at play in Germany and in the US, where she observes politicians steering the country back into conflict reminiscent of the civil war.

Modern leaders are waking up the dormant monster of totalitarianism because they think they can benefit. But Applebaum sincerely doubts they can control it.

As she elegantly makes her case, it’s hard not to see the tell tales signs of history’s spin cycle about to throw the world into a disarray again. Her last sentence, however, is where I hope she starts her next article. She writes “Let us prepare for it well.” This, I think, is the key flip side that has been given too little space and attention in our collective discussion of nationalism’s impending threat to world order.

Yes, we have been here. We’ve read our history and understand that nationalism leads to war. Yes, it’s scary and terrible and I would also rather it weren’t happening. But since it is and since we are not naive, then perhaps we could start talking about how best to weather the storm -- how to salvage what is precious, how to keep communication channels open, how to provide our kids with the best possible education, how to keep our old and sick safe and how to stock pile stores of knowledge, talent and resources that we will need when it comes time to rebuild again.

Top quotes from Applebaum’s piece

  • People who painstakingly cultivate concepts historically debunked assume that they can control the consequences.
  • When violent, racist totalitarian emotions are unleashed, there is no predicting what will happen.
  • Totalitarian ideologies never die. Their attractiveness doesn’t die either. For this reason, the consequences of bringing these ideologies to life need to be carefully explained to each new generation.
WITH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM:
SUPPORTED BY:

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

STRATEGIC PARTNERS:
NewsMavens
NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
CORE TEAM
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy
System.Threading.Tasks.Task`1[System.Threading.Tasks.VoidTaskResult];