Thursday, March 26, 2009

Doomed To Repeat It

Doomed To Repeat It
OR
Doomed To Repeat It?
A television series concept
Perhaps for the History Channel
By Mason Williams
Written: 7/25/00
Revised: 3/7/09

“Doomed to Repeat It” wanted to be a show on TV, a documentary style program that took a look at current social or political problems. Then, using similar situations from the past, presented historically equivalent solutions, illustrating how these analogous problems were handled in history, showing the causes, the manifestation of the problem, and the aftermath/fallout, good or bad.
Assessing the wisdom and efficacy of the decisions and strategies undertaken
that either solved the problem or exacerbated it.
The idea’s philosophy was rooted in the wisdom of the old saying that goes:
“Those who can not remember the past, are doomed to repeat it.”
-George Santayana


This idea wanted to bring history into the present.
“Doomed to Repeat It” is a provocative title that asks / proposes to answer the big question which is “doomed to repeat what?”
It wanted to put the lessons of history in the more relevant context of today’s issues.
These shows would, in essence, delve into the past pertinent lessons of history.

This idea had big plans.
The show could have been a great gig for historians.
It dreamed of someday being a show that the people would look to
not only for its entertainment value, but as something useful as well.
Who knows, maybe America’s leaders & policy makers of today
would watch the show and make more informed decisions re: current issues?

Excerpts from…
“Woe from WTO: Environmental and labor groups say the trade body will bring grief to U.S.”
by Kevin Phillips (a political historian and author)
The Los Angeles Times / reprinted in The Register Guard (11/28/99)


“The World Trade Organization, though officially only 4 years old, represents a huge intrusion on U.S. politics and on national, state and local decision-making, largely in the interest of multinational corporations and trade lobbies.”

“The historical evidence from the two previous great economic world powers is that whatever financial elites want—high profit global priorities—is bad for ordinary citizens, who are more vulnerable and require that domestic economics come first.”

“History’s example, however, raises major cautions. Indeed, the two great world economic powers before the United States—the Dutch in the 17th and early 18th centuries, and the British thereafter—followed the same internationalization trajectory as their world leadership peaked and then went into decline.
This precedent is as frightening as it is clear. As the Dutch and British global economies peaked, their future, said the elites, lay in embracing international rather than internal economic opportunities. As the old industries started to fade—textiles, shipbuilding and fisheries in the Netherlands; coal, textiles and steel in Britain—the elites said: Never mind. We now lead the world in services: banking, finance, overseas investments, shipping, insurance, communications. And that’s where the payoff is.
Within each nation—the 1720-40 Holland and Britain in the “Upstairs, Downstairs” era of 1900-1914—two things came to pass. First, common people started losing the old industrial jobs that had made ordinary Dutchmen and Britons the envy of Europe. The old industrial districts deteriorated. Second, even as industrial decay worsened, finance and investments soared, inequality mushroomed and the elites buzzed about a new gold age. But then, something went wrong; finance, investments and services lost their way. The golden age imploded and the economy became no more than a shell of its old broad-based heyday—Holland in 1770 or Britain in 1945.
This is the enormous risk that ordinary Americans—the huge two-thirds in the economic middle—now take in allowing U.S. democracy and representative government to be undercut and restructured by the U.S. equivalent of the financial and multinational elites that so selfishly misdirected early 20th-century Britain and 18th-century Holland. Recent statistics showing the top 1 percent of Americans soaring on financial wings, even as inflation-adjusted median family incomes are about the same as they were 25 years ago, buttress the parallel. So do efforts of current U.S. elites to move their investments overseas, as the earlier Dutch and British elites did, and to sell technology to nations like China that could easily become a threat to U.S. interests.”

“Ordinary Dutchmen and Britons couldn’t stop the earlier trends, and maybe Americans can’t stop these.”
Excerpts from…
“The Desert Empire: In its desperate search for water, the American West meets the limits of the technological ideal”
by George Sibley
(a former newspaper editor and owner, is a free-lance writer living in Colorado)
Harpers Magazine (October 1977)

“This is a story about a river, but it is also about the desert.”

“Anyone who has spent a few afternoons in the desert has probably seen the clouds billow up and try to rain on it, but the trailing gray sheets and ribbons of rain (often woven with segments of rainbow) are vaporized by the desert’s shield of heat long before they can reach the ground. And when the rain does manage to find its opening and pour in a cloudburst, the earth is baked so hard that even then it fights the downpour; the water doesn’t stay with the ground but goes ripping off, itself frustrated and raging by then, to see what it can find to tear up, break down, and generally raise hell with.
The desert, in short, rejects water; and being myself not much more than an uncountable number of minuscule water vessels, I feel the rebuff: whatever rejects water rejects me, and the feeling is mutual. I resolve the antipathy by generally staying away from deserts.
What this story is about, then, is the temptation that periodically comes over people to take the rebuff as a challenge to go fights the desert—“make it bloom,” as they say. Many of our great ancestral civilizations—Egypt, the so-called Fertile Crescent, Persia, India, central Mexico—evolved in areas with a semi-arid or arid climate. The key technology here has always been the ability to divert and spread the waters of rivers onto lands otherwise too dry for agriculture.
It is a part of our own cultural tradition to think of these ancient civilizations and their great temple-cities as evil and corrupt places—they were, after all, the Egypt from which Moses led the faithful, the Babylon whose towers God cast down, the Sodom and Gomorrah from which the righteous fled, all of them sprung from the alienated seed of that Cain whose “innovative agriculture” the old I Am of the desert refused to accept. If we can accept that it was the destiny of what we call Western civilization with its “Judeo-Christian heritage” to come to America, then we should probably also accept that at least part of the effort we have been gearing up for, in a thousand years of phenomenal technological advance, was our own confrontation with the same age-old nemesis and challenge, in the presence of the Great American Desert west of the Rocky Mountains and its mad river, the Colorado.
After all, like Oliver Wendell Holmes said:
“To understand what is happening today or what will happen in the future, I look back.”


This idea had it in its head that it would be the perfect place to pursue current global issues; economic, political, social, ecological… the timeliness would give the show a sense of immediacy.
It dreamed that even larger philosophical lessons could also be explored.
It could have examined, i.e., how Japan’s economic mess a decade ago parallels our current one and show what worked and what didn’t to solve the problem.
What the hell, this idea wanted to be about the lessons of history, but now…its just relegated to the dust bin of history.
Doomed to regret it.

8 comments:

Ananiah said...

I am shocked that I actually partly agree with you here. Japan is a perfect example of what is happening now. The problem is that all the stimulus, government spending and borrowing didn't work. I do have an advanced degree in the subject of economics and we're on a crash course currently, however what it all boils down to is social psychology. The economy works when people spend money, and people spending money only works when they feel secure enough to do so. Government spending will only go so far as it is a resource that is still only funded essentially by the consumption habits of the people. It is not a replacement and cannot be without leading to collapse. As nice as it is that there was SOME amount of actual stimulus contained in the stimulus bill, what happens when the funds dry up? Doesn't the money multiplier and the velocity of money work in reverse? You end up where you started without fixing the actual problem, which is as you astutely pointed out, the disappearance of industry. Blaming "evil" corporations, which is what politicians do, is the wrong thing to do. Politicians blame corporations that are NOT in their pockets and help those who are, Barney Frank and Fannie Mae anyone? The larger lending institutions have been in the pockets of major politicians, Obama included, that congress has no business questioning these companies on their practices, since most of them were either directed by or directly benefitted members of congress. Personally, there is little that can be done without unelecting everyone from the president to the dog catcher. As the candidacy of Carolyn Kennedy has shown, power is viewed as a birthright more than a privilege. That is history repeating itself in the worst possible way, we are more emulating the Roman Empire than 18th century Europe. We have become a state where politicians buy votes by allowing the people to vote themselves gifts from the treasury and there is no time limit to power, in many cases power has become an appointment for life, depending on how much bacon is brought home to the district.

michael said...

alas, tis true. If you were to look at the Bible as nothing more than an ancient hebrew history book, you would find so many parallels, problems, and solutions to our present day state of affairs, that you wouldnt even have to look at the prophetic texts at all to see the advantage of learning from their mistakes in ancient times. The rise and fall of even a tribal group, often preconfigures the collapse of an entire civilization.

Buster Dog said...

Our problem is created by too much government, and the only solution that seems to be on offer is more government. I am not optimistic.

michael said...

Government and Industry proceed upon their own momentum. They are giant weighty things like the earth's rotation, or tides, or a speeding train. The difference is,the natural things are controlled and regulated by the laws of physics
and other science that we humans have managed to compile through careful and measured observation of God's creation, but the things we like to play with the most are things we believe to be a product and invention of our own minds, without God's help or interference in our conclusions. Things like politics, education, industry, psychology,and yes, religion are becoming more and more exclusive of the influence and perhaps even the existence of God our creator. This is a big mistake. The course of action that will succeed in preventing our headlong crash into the wall of certain economic social and political disaster involves a citizen awareness that it is up to us and not the government to solve the crisis that we are in. Bring God back into the equation,formula, theory, conclusion. In short,the bottom line is please your creator. As small as you may seem to be to yourself and to your government, you have a lot of power and strength to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles if you just let him be your moral compass and spiritual guide in who you choose to be your friends, allies, or political candidates. Revive those things that you know are already inside you and resist the influence of people and things that you know in your heart are wrong for you, and for that matter all of us. Vote from your heart and not your pocket book. Put God back in our schools. Read the minutes transcribed in the first meeting of Congress, it was hours of prayer. Read our history before someone changes it to be "politically correct". Our faith as a nation was founded on biblical principles to achieve and to overcome our rivals. Just don't forget, "the trail of tears", Manifest destiny, emancipation proclamation, 40 acres and a mule, California or bust,anti trust and monopoly. History will repeat itself, unless we can resist those who would imprison us in our own homes, through insidious ways of provoking us to worship of the almighty dollar, we will never recapture the dream of a job, a home,and a place to park the family car for everyone here in America. If we believe that ethics are determined by our situation, and that there are no moral absolutes, then history is doomed to repeat itself until Someone comes to set us straight.

相信 said...

愛情不是慈善事業,不能隨便施捨。.........................

與毛 said...

If you can not be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.............................................

Gail said...

What a truly wonderful program that would have been, something worth turning the TV on. Something thought provoking and not mind numbing as what is currently out there. I seldom watch TV any more. Why has the programing not been aired? I have read some of the blogs, and realize how out of touch sometimes we all get. I worry, as do most, of where our economy is going. However, I also realize that without addressing the key issue of green house gasses and the survival of our plant as a whole, the rest really will not be much of a worry at all, as we will be near extinction. I live in Northern Illinois, we just had an earthquake this week. It made me think about or planet and life in general. Not that the ozone layer has anything to do with an earthquake, but it does make you think about how fragile life really is. We bicker about finances, religion, wealth and the such, yet we forget how to treat others and be kind. We have forgotten to take care of this planet and make it a priority. Man has miserably missed the mark. Money and big corporations have taken charge of our country. I have a minimal education, unlike some of the other bloggers, but we have forgotten the basics. Money, power, prestige have taken over. I watched a homeless man on the street yesterday, not one car stopped to give a donation, everybody scurrying about their buisiness. I am not a wealthy, educated or have a job that you brag about to your friends. I work in a hospital health information area. yet, I know right from wrong and when someone needs food, and you have extra then you feed him. Unfortunately, our country chooses to look the other way. I type hospital reports day after day where the emergency room patients are there because they are out of work, and cannnot afford their life saving prescriptions. I live in a small more rural area, I cannot imagine the lack of basic things such as health care, medication, food, shelter. Yet we, who were once lower middle class are now entering into poverty. My mother at 87 stopped her plavix this week because Medicare doubled the price. We have so many problems in this country to fix, I cannot understand why an idea like a show "Doomed to Repeat It" would not be a large success. Many look for ways to blame; seldom do they really look for answers, just the next thing to blame.

Hawkeye624 said...

There can be many parallels throughout history, pretty much regardless of the social, economic, or political structure. The two constants seem to be that most people throughout history have felt like they should always have more tomorrow than they have today, yet history would show the only way to reach that goal is to take it from somebody else. Yet basic logic would say this is not possible, because somebody can have more only when somebody else has less. There really isn't any other way around it. I realize that technological progress can produce efficiencies that can provide more of something for less energy, but even that is usually proven to come at a cost to the future, so it really falls into that same logic. More for everyone in the particular sphere to which we belong but never wanting to admit that it has to result in less for everyone else.