The entire process of world history seems to fit into three specific cycles. Cycle One I would call Ideology and appears to give the illusion of the dialectic.
Initially we had the nomad, countered by static agricultural communities. These eventually formed the migrations and societies that led to the pagan god-king societies, which were opposed by Monotheism. This formed into Christianity verses Islam. After that came Catholic verses Protestant; which itself formulated into Capitalism verses Fascism verses Communism. The next stage of the cycle was Capitalist verses Collectivism, leading to the present stage of Capitalism/Sameness verses Culture/Environment/ Diversity.
Within this cycle is Cycle Two, which can be called Class Power. Initially this would have involved power in the hands of the chief and shaman. They merged into the God-King. With Monotheism, it moved to a leader ruling by Divine Right. Power then trickled down to aristocracy, then the middleclass, and history is now trying to work out how to pass power down to the working class, which has so far always failed.
Maybe this is because there is a constant influence in society which constitutes Cycle Three. This is the need for power and Imperialism. At the dawn of history this manifested through annihilation of an enemy or enslavement. The next stage involved subjugation. Whilst today the power urge comes through trade and science. And a power urge always needs people at the bottom to subdue.
These, I would argue, are the three cycles into which all world history fits. However, this is the PROCESS of history. What about the engine?
In human terms advancement is an illusion. History may show a steady advance, but I suspect this is only culture deep. We simply make the same mistakes, only in new cultural or technological clothes.
This is due to our historic changes being too extreme. It becomes so because of frustration. An existent society causes general frustration in a population, eventually causing an outbreak, through philosophy, of a new idea.
The philosophers behind this worked out their new idea through being more frustrated than most, thus making the idea extreme. The warriors then grasp the idea and add a further level of fanaticism and the result is violent revolution or war.
Such cultural catalysts show the errors of the dialectical approach to understanding history. As we saw, this approach argues two opposing societies will inevitably rise and clash, and out of their clash, a new, more perfect society will evolve from their synthesis. This is rubbish. The clash and synthesis may well occur, but the result is never more perfect.
We appear stuck in a continual rut of repeating cycles, forever making the same mistakes. This is due to all ‘systems’ within a society having an urge to power. Even the present democratic systems have become power crazy – all systems do. But this is how history works and we survive – changing the system now and again before it gets too powerful. We used to do this through war. I wonder if we’ve advanced enough yet to try another way.
As to that way, history seems to show a law of opposites in that conflicting systems and societies seem to rise in fanaticism equal to the fanaticism of the other. Hence, maybe the way to break the cycle is for one side to realize that a reduction of fanaticism in theirs will inevitably lead to a reduction in the opposite. I seem to recall some fellow speaking about turning the other cheek. Maybe we’ve known the answer a long time.
Click link, below, to return