Introduction

Setting the Parameters:

Is history a science? In many Eastern European countries, the answer is often , yes! Elsewhere in Europe the answer is usually, Not quite; but the subject is treated with respect with the faith that an objective study of history is possible. The late Henry Ford however, is reported to have said 'History is bunk!.'

This is understandable: America as a new country, a new Zion perhaps; tasked with the settlement, development , the creation of wealth and the construction of a new social order immensely superior to Old Europe and would agree with Ford that it is irrelevant to those who are certain of their calling.

Steeped in a religious zeal based upon a holy book traditionally the repository of all wisdom and knowledge; America, has always exhibited a missionary's insistence in spreading the true word of God: in modern language, this would be the conversion of all nations to the principles and practice of Democracy, Representative Government, Free-market Capitalism and the acceptance of America as the spiritual and temporal Leader of a Righteous Community called the Free World; more briefly, 'the new World Order.'

In this context, Ford's epigram should be amended to read, 'History, outside the American experience, is incompetent and immaterial.'
Until almost to the present, and especially since the Second World War, America has largely succeeded. Who can deny the dominance of this Colossus that bestrides this narrow world! We take our hats off in amazement and gratitude to this manifestation of vigorous and muscular Certainty; the Founding Myths characteristic of all Civilizations, says the historian Toynbee, in the Early Morning of their Advent. Nevertheless, we must take our coats off, to attend to the problems of the future.
For the future has now come upon us; and it is ugly, violent, brutish and equally certain of its truths. The Barbarian quite suddenly has made an appearance at the gates of the Free World. And we are in a quandary. We seek to confront and convert him, but with apparently a decreasing probability of success; the Old Magic of God, of Gold and of Guns is becoming increasingly ineffective.
Has our Sun crossed the Meridian ? Are we now in the late Afternoon of our Culture and therefore prepare for the coming dusk - as the historian Spengler posits in two volumes published nearly eighty years ago.
We will give due consideration to the almost Nietzschean powerlessness of God, the puzzling diminution of our monetary wealth of late; and most surprising of all the situation at the Marches of the Free World where our Wardens seem incapable of holding the line against valiant barbarians armed with crude but sufficiently effective Weapons.
And we will draw parallels to the experience of prior societies while comparing them to the events that happen at the present time. We will find hopefully, that the troubles of the present are not unique to us, but have happened to the twenty or so civilizations that preceded us. If that is the case, the remedy will become apparent, but we will swallow the pill only if we comprehend our plight. As the philosopher Santayana warned us, 'Those who do not read and comprehend their history, are condemned to repeat it.'

The twenty or so civilizations that disappeared ( described in great detail by Toynbee) evidently did not learn their lessons, and therefore paid the ultimate price of sudden or slow extinction.

We pray that this awful Fate does not befall us.

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