We live in the neoliberal period. The neoliberal period is one where most of us ignore history and focus on short-term concerns. The time we most often consider is the immediate present. That’s unfortunate because history is important in its gifts. They are many.
History can matter to us because it can provide a larger context to help us to understand the present day. And it can provide lessons about what human societies tried in the past that either worked to the benefit of society or failed to work. History can give us an appreciation of human culture and the beauty that has been produced by human beings over the generations in art, literature, science, architecture and music. History gives us old accomplishments to admire and that gives whatever is new today a context for us to see and appreciate what we have now. Accomplishments from people who lived before us are testified to us by artifacts that are a rich available resource of inspiration to all of us living today.
If you look at the human genome and consider that each of us holds only a part of the human potential in our own genes, history provides testimony about many different kinds of people who lived in the past. Human beings can grasp only a part of the human heritage in the expression of each person’s talents but we can learn from the past to appreciate a greater whole. As each of us struggles to achieve our own potential it can be comforting to imagine our small part in contributing to a greater historical whole.
As we try to understand what will help us all to achieve greater prosperity and security, there are many lessons and many comforts to be found in the history of the human past. History is full of ideas that changed everything that had been before. Ideas still have that transformative potential. Political and economic history has much to recommend it. The intricate dance between politics and economics has brought new opportunities into being. History shows how cultures tried to overcome unavoidable setbacks. Some of these setbacks were material and others were caused by human limitations. People tried to outsmart their human limitations in a variety of ways. We have tried religion, we’ve tried rationalism, we’ve tried humanism, we’ve tried computer technologies. Hard times shaped by wars, disease and suffering have also shaped human outcomes. Whatever happens, when we are at our best we try to overcome our foibles and celebrate each other’s opportunities which help human society to prosper. We can’t really escape the influence of history even when we don’t understand it very well.
If you want to understand more about the history of political ideologies over U.S. history, if you want to understand why there is political discord in the present, if you want to see how we tried to prevent problems that have surfaced in the present and if you want to understand the role of government in solving problems and preventing corruption, Political Catsup with Economy Fries, available at Amazon.com is just the book that you need.