Historical analogies

The reason historical analogies are useful, is because hardly any political, social or economic problem is really new. The problem is that it is easy to cherry-pick some event from thousands of years of recorded history. That is why you always need to keep in mind that no situation will match the past 100%. However, what is interesting is that similar relations and feelings occur time and again between individual humans and groups of people. This leads people to use the same strategies1, no matter what time and place they live in, or what languages they speak or what clothes they wear.

My blog is not constrained by what is currently deemed respectable or lawful. We should think about what can happen now and what has really happened in the past, instead of some romanticized fiction. For example, the historian and blogger T. Greer has pushed back against a fictional tale about how the ancient Chinese stopped raids by the Xiongnu, a group of horse riding steppe tribes. The fiction is that the raiders were ‘tamed’ by the gifts they received from the Chinese, and by letting the khan of the nomads marry a Chinese princess.

In reality, after decades of plunder by the foreigners, the Chinese organized a cavalry army themselves. They followed the nomads on the steppes and defeated them by killing the warriors, women and children.

The reason existing law should not limit our thinking, is exemplified by the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 that prohibited the use of chemical weapons. As is well known, a number of years later both sides  used the ‘forbidden’ weapons during the Great War.

  1. This does not mean that the result is predetermined. Also, multiple interests and strategies play simultaneously.

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