Who don't remember the past are destined to repeat it

History is a vital component of human existence and a potent tool for creating both a knowledge of the past and a compass for the future. According to a critical perspective, the world's best civilization resulted from a thorough examination of the past in order to invent a better present and future. (Square 2004.p.17). Jorge Augustin Nicolás Ruiz de Santayanay Borrás wrote "Reason to Common Sense" in his work. Notes that “Those who cannot remember the past are destined to repeat it.” On this note, it is, therefore, significant for society to always connect with the memories of their past in their plans to forge the state of tomorrow. In fact, History derives meaning when used as an instrument of visualizing a better future free from the mistakes of yesterday. A crucial aspect of this argument is the notion that experience is the best teacher and history haunts society and the only we gain control of the negative shadows of history. What did not work yesterday, ideally cannot work for tomorrow no matter how hard we try to maintain variations in the circumstances. This paper will examine the importance of history in the construction of sustainable world peace through an evidence-based analysis of the major politically induced events of the both world wars in correlation to the contemporary world and how they have influenced the series of rising political intensity. Winston Churchill, upon his reappointment in the House of Commons in 1948 stated: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. Rhetorically, this was a direct quotation from his works from the book of The Life of Reason written long before the world war two.

The condemnation that those who choose to forget their history is that they are destined to repeating the mistakes of yesterday and mostly with greater implications than when it happened in the past "(Santayana 2014, p.67). The argument presented by the Spanish-born poet echoes that of Edmond Burke who asserts that the cycles of history repeat itself and the only way that the past mistakes and their implications gain meaning is by making sure that the actions of today in the historical context of similar events. Essentially, humanity and civilizations are doomed to fall into the same webs of catastrophes if they are not careful enough to critically study where they are coming from to build an understanding of the direction that their tomorrow is taking (Feenberg 2004, p.33). "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve, and no direction set for possible improvement: and when an experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual "(Santayana 1905-1906). Notably, the absoluteness of a reoccurrence of history is indisputable in light of the inherent repetitiveness nature of man. The relevance of Santayana’s quote touches on all the issue that regard our daily life and mostly in the situation of war and political governance. Thereby the era of globalization can learn a lot from the events of world wars and the subsequent events that followed and forge a peaceful world characterized by peaceful co-existence (Churchill 1994, p.56).Therefore, to create an improved state of affairs for ourselves, it demands that we reflect deeply on where we have been in the past and in this context the importance of our history becomes an important tool help society rise higher and achieve better progress.

Historical Context of the World War

The first and the second world wars in the history of humanity is a major event whose implications changed the course of history. The significance of this particular event can be accurately understood as a period when the world was at war with itself (Muller 1973, p.23). In this regards, it is important that we explore step by step development that culminated into world wars. This paper considers the importance of world wars, and especially the Second World War, as a historical catastrophe that by the nature of both wars being aggressiveness of man. Europe was marred by massive atrocities by countries aggressively pursuing to gain control over each other. The fact that even after the first war spilled into Second World War two prove the point when society is ignorant of its history, then it becomes inevitable to prevent the reoccurrence of a similar situation and the nature of reoccurring events is that they happen in larger magnitudes (Muller1973, p.47). The implication of Germany’s aggressiveness towards it neighbors in the second world led to even bigger consequences not only in its Germany but also in other nations. England, for example, had to give up on its position as the world super power. Critically looking at the impacts of the First World War in comparison to the second war reaffirms the necessity always to know where we are coming from to understand the characteristics of our present and predict the outcomes of our actions. We can know what our actions will lead to even before we actualize them.

The Relevance of World Wars

To understand the development of World War II, we look into World War I. Germany was the biggest loser of in the first war yet in the second war it was the aggressor. Foreign relations in a highly globalized world are a critical aspect that the world wars impacted about how Germany responded to the treatment that the world accorded them after the war (Goldsten1993, p.13). The aftermath of the First World War isolated Germany from the restore world. Not only was the country denied their right to engage in the affairs of the world but burdened with hefty fines that brought the economy of Germany on its knees. Ironically, these aggressive attitudes towards Germany are what inspired Germany to grow aggressively stronger and hateful towards their counterparts to the point of working so hard to ensure that they avenged the injustices that the League of Nations imposed on them (Weinberg 1970, p56). In essence, the analysis of the wars raises the question of the strategic responses of countries in the light of war.

The war between nations has existed since the creation of nation states in ancient civilizations, but when peace prevails, and then it is crucial that principles of natural justice apply in passing judgments to the perpetrators (Tunkin 1974, p.45). Decisions of whether or not to engage in war are in the hands of executive circles, and the fact that the people of Germany had to pay for the mistakes of their appointed leaders was a uniting factor for them and increased their bitterness towards foreign nations who seemingly ignored the development that led to the war. Ideally, scholars relate the aggressive nature Germans behind the radical ideologies of Adolf Hitler because of the bitterness that inflation of their currency had on their economic state (Maier2015, p.89). With a promise of the restoration of their national pride and power in the affairs of the world, German rallied behind Hitler in dishonoring the Treaty of Versailles. The evidence of this event reveals that international decisions should integrate the Domestic-mindedness of affected Countries. Moreover, self-interests should be carefully reviewed by international partners in their interventions in the case of war, and personal preferences should not be a reason for bias in conflict.

Historiographical Understanding of the wars

The Principle of Neutrality should apply in the entry of war by non-affected states because support to one side only invites other parties to join in opposing sides instead of on a neutral ground to ensure that violence does not escalate to destructive levels as witnessed in the second war (Duffield 2014.p.57). Diplomacy is a powerful tool to resolve differences as opposed to militarism and imperialistic attitudes. In the World War 1, countries joined the war on either side, a non-aligned movement to pursue peace was absent and this only led to the escalation of the war (Putnam 1988, p.101). It is important to note that had the countries not involved in the war decided to use a non-aligned approach towards the initial stages of the war, Germany and France would have peacefully ended the war and avoided the blood feud witnessed in the war (Held 2000, p.25). ‘The Allied Powers” and The Central Powers group raised the scale of the war because the additional firepower does not end the war but grow stimulates it. Although eventually, peace becomes, the damages are bigger and far more dangerous.

Europe was in ashes two times and what had taken a lot of effort to rebuild went down again because we had not learned from our mistakes. Britain and Germany ignored the historical implications of taking sides in a conflict especially the psychological makeup of Germany (Addison 1975, p.78). Germany was a victim of imperialistic aggressiveness of foreign countries, and the joining of countries allied to France ignited them-them more to be aggressive in the war. The culture of taking sides in a war has been witnessed in the recent situation in Syria (Alawieh, 2014, p.115). Russia and USA approached the domestic war based on their national interest, and in contrast, the war in Syria became more violent. The fact that to find peace in a sustainable require that countries not directly involved in the war, as history has shown, has completely been ignored and we are repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

The socio-economic implications of war have far wide-reaching in the life of civilians (Bollen et al. 2011, p.451). Syrians have been suffering, and the once beautiful country is in ashes just like Europe once was because the countries in the international community have once again chosen to ignore the historical facts that in the events of the war, being partisan to end the conflict only result in the escalation of the war. In 1914, what was just a small manageable conflict between Austria-Hungary escalated to become war at the global scale? The map below illustrates the growth of the war in Europe, showing the geographical representation of the territory that the war affected in its climax days.

Today, the Arab spring madness is threatening world peace, and if leaders and policy makers choose not evaluate the World wars, we shall have the same situation as in the Vietnam War where America and Russia almost came to war (Herring 1995, p.29) Past events, in a contemporary setting, should offer insight into the actions of the day and that is the only way we prevent reoccurrence of another in the global scale. Hiroshima bomb attacks left a permanent scar on the World and if nations do not come to terms that the price war of in light of superior arms, then we shall force the world into another dark era of war (Miller 1956, p.11).Capitalism and communism were at the central positions of the world wars and formed the basis of which side neutral countries joined the war. Historically, political ideologies constitute the basis for conflicts and continued differences in global affairs which have significantly contributed to wars. The World Wars in a huge part was an ideological one, with capitalist countries on one end of the spectrum and communist nations on the other (Steger 2008, p.109). The historical relevance of the wars interconnects with conflicts, and contemporary society is yet to come to terms with the fact that the difference has trickled down over the years and for example, the cold war was an ideological war.

The capitalist and Communist advanced their ideologies without the regard of the events of the world wars. Developing countries have been subject to ideological conflicts that sparked internal divisions, some of which has divided them at the expense of progress (Monath1994, p.43). The youngest country in the world, South Sudan, is a testimony to the importance to the subjecting contemporary society to the truth of history to prevent the bad experiences of other civilizations.


History is an important aspect whose influence in the matters of today, undeniably it is crucial that we societies today have a strong connection with the past to make sure that such a catastrophic event that cast a dark shadow in the sustainability of human civilization. Concisely, lessons of the World Wars I is an opportunity for humanity to forge a better future without the threat of the handicaps of war (Ferguson 2008, p.89). As the evidence presented in this essay show, contemporary societies have a lot to learn from these events during both wars. World War 1 catalyzed the inevitable happening of the second war because the leaders and policy makers of the time were ignorant of the great wisdom history could teach and empower them to objectively avoid the war which the serious anachronism implications of war. Not only does this cultivates the loyalty to the human race but also develops a consciousness of the ingredients that give rise to a better society.

In essence, history becomes useful when applied as a rich well of evidence-based knowledge of how we respond to repetitive scenarios which are the nature of the world. Modern society is a product of the mistakes and good choices of yesterday and Europe, especially the British community as active participants in the war can draw many lessons from this historic event. The goals of creating a sustainable world peace will only be visualized with an in-depth neutral interpretation and analysis of the events of both world wars as the evidence in this essay allude.


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