Reviewing "The Lessons of History" by Will & Ariel Durant

The Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1968, 1996.

Another prescient, must-read from the past, the Durants' short book reminds us of cycles in history-- from democracy to inequality in wealth to revolution and chaos and hopefully back to democracy. Given the current uproar in politics, their analysis is chilling, especially since Congress is so dysfunctional. History meets critical situations by ..."legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty," they say.

This book was written by the Durants after they reread their ten volumes the Story of Civilization (to 1789). The Lessons of History by Will Durant The example given by Plutarch in 594 B.C. is very revealing. He saved Athens from revolution by leveling the playing field—forgiving debt, devaluing money, applying a progressive tax and doing a G.I. Bill i.e. providing free education to former soldiers. Sounds like the laundry list in Robert Reich's Saving Capitalism, NY, Knopf, 2015.

Rome didn't do so well—just engaged in war and continued favoring the wealthy, a mistake easily made by the manipulation of democracy. "Men who can manage money manage all." As an example, farmers now must be employees of "...capitalists or the state." Thus history becomes a cycle of "concentrated wealth and compulsive circulation."

Education is required if we are to avoid the violent surge from "...changing political argument into blind hate." Hopefully that stage in the Trump campaign is now over. "If equality of education can be established, democracy will be real and justified." I understand that free college education is provided in Germany these days, and that some states are moving in that direction. Now, how about leveling the playing field, Hilary?

The Durant's lessons are divided into brief, beautifully crafted and readable chapters, summarizing history as seen by the Earth, in biology, by race and character, morals and religion, economics and socialism, government and war, during growth and decay.

We need to believe there is hope. Humans are inventive, stubborn but not stupid. As we face this difficult presidential election, I believe we can find Durants' "...approximate equity of legal justice and educational opportunity."
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
No comments have been added yet.

Reviewing World-changing Nonfiction

Cary Neeper
Expanding on the ideas portrayed in The Archives of Varok books for securing the future.
Follow Cary Neeper's blog with rss.