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  • Tanweer Dar

The Lessons of History

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

- Karl Marx


History is not just a fading memory, it surrounds us. It lives in the very bricks and mortar of our civilisation, in the words on the pages of our books, in the echoes of our elders' voices. It is oft recounted and frequently taught. And yet, our memories seem frightfully short, our understanding ludicrously superficial.


Every generation witnesses calamitous events, every generation finds hope, every generation has a battle to fight. Why, though, do we not move beyond this cycle? Why haven't we learned the lessons of history? Why must every generation fight the same battle as the last?


The war to end all wars.


Never again.


United we stand.


Renowned maxims from history, oft-repeated. And yet, we find that wars continue, genocide is still happening, divisions persist.


What is this collective amnesia which grips us when we are repeating the mistakes of the past? Is it truly a tragic feature of the human condition, or are their other forces at play?


Whatever the causes of this global déjà vu we experience, we cannot allow the progress made in each generation to be lost. We cannot throw our arms up in despair and falter before the farce we see replaying before us. It's not an easy task, and sometimes it's a thankless one. But if we don't keep fighting for our rights, for the rights of those who cannot fight for their own, who will? If not me, who? If not now, when?


There is no final victory, as there is no final defeat. There is just the same battle. To be fought, over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.

- Tony Benn




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