Oracle of History

Guiding you through the ages

Archive for the tag “Back to the Future”

History repeats itself

I know what you are thinking, what a generic title for a blog post on a history blog. However I believe it is important to take a look at this concept since the outcome of the U.S. election.

So many people were shocked by the win of President Elect Trump, but why is that?

The idea of history repeating itself has been around for thousands of years and yet some people do not believe in its existence.

Therefore I will take you on a journey of how ideas of historic recurrence developed:

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The Ancients 

In the Ancient world several philosophers and thinkers (such as Poseidonius, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and Zosimus)  foresaw the demise of the Roman Empire due to the fate of their predecessors – Assyrians, Persians, and even the Macedonians.

What these philosophers saw was that all of previous great Empires went through a cycle of immense power, disunity, and then fall. I challenge you to find an Empire that did not do the same.

The fall of the Macedonian Empire is particularly interesting due to their most famous leader – Alexander the Great!

The Renaissance

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Niccolo Machiavelli,  an early writer and thinker on politics, saw the repeating nature of Florentine politics. He believed in a fluctuation of vice and virtue within society. Virtue creates peace, which leads to idleness and vice. A cycle that keep repeating itself.

This theory is, obviously, very indicative of its time. An Italy divided into city states, constantly at war with each other and against encroaching Empires. There was an emphasis on the role of political virtue in society. Not unlike today when we hold politicians accountable for their actions.

For reference, watch the TV show The Borgias. Although its historical validity can be questioned, it gives a good idea of the fighting between city states.

Modern Interpretation

Karl Marx even brought his thoughts to the table in 1852, agreeing with Hegel that all great moments in world history are repeated twice. Marx added, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” What is most interesting about was that he wrote this in the context of the recent coups d’etat of Napoleon’s nephew, Napoleon III in 1851.

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This case alone shows the repetition of actions within a short time frame. Which brings to mind the  famous quote from George Santayana that is often misattributed:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

If these repetitions happen within living memory, are we doomed either way?

With the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election, it seems that we are doomed to repeat it. As a historian, the striking similarities between the rise of President-Elect Trump and Adolf Hitler are hard to ignore – something that I will not go into detail here because there are many accounts of this. All we can hope is that he will not continue that legacy.

The purpose of this blog post was to inform people about how the notion of history repeating itself has been around for thousands of years and that it is our job to be prepared for the next cycle in the best ways we can.

To end on a high note here is a little video treat about seeing into the future:

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Back to the Future and other stories

While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed I came across a funny post courtesy of the geek culture king, George Takei.

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It made me laugh because even though modern fashion can be weird at times, we’re a long way off from wearing that. I have my own issues with 80s fashion anyway so this prediction is pretty funny.

It’s futurism at its best!

For those who don’t know, futurism is when you are concerned with the events and trends of the future, or which anticipate the future.

This made me think, are there any other equally strange predictions out there?

The answer is – oh yes(!), and it’s a beautiful thing! The internet always sends you down a rabbit hole of “wonders.”

So here are a few for your enjoyment:

Artist prompt 

The French artist Villemard drew in the 1910s what he thought the year 2000 would look like.

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Many in the early 1900s thought that the future was in the sky, which isn’t too far from the truth. However, I’m still waiting for my hover car. Get on it science! Also make underwater croquet happen.

It’s American Football…in space! 

There’s not much more to add about this, except that this prediction was made in 1981…

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…what kind of drugs were they smoking, again?

What if Bioshock’s Rapture were real? 

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In the 1960s, it was thought that the next frontier was underwater. Much like the gold rush that moved people to the west coast of the U.S. in the 1800s, engineers believed that a similar thing would happen in the depths of the ocean with oil and other minerals.

They took it so seriously, in fact, that General Motors’ booth at the 1964 World Fair in New York City had an entire exhibit dedicated to underwater home designs (picture above).

And just for laughs….

While researching this topic, I came across this gem. Ads in the 1960s are the best. I always love hate how wonderfully sexist they are! Be sure to watch the other parts too because it only gets better!

Bonus Vid

For the “oldie” in all of us

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