Tuesday, July 18, 2006

End of History?

Have we reached the End of History, or it starts all over again?

For generations, men [and women] have always proclaimed the end of history. Like us, they felt that they have reached the apex of human civilization, at least in terms of the social organisation. It has always been assumed that technology will progress, more and more wealth will be created, new frontiers of knowledge will be explored and new powers will emerge, but essentially the human civilization will go on in its current form.

So thought the Romans, and the subsequent empires after them. Many thinkers thought so, Hegel most notably [who is thought to have invented the modern term], Marx in a different sense [as he thought of a future society which will be the end] and more recent neo-cons [influenced by Francis Fukuyama, who ended up writing the thesis].

But, as all of us know, while the end of history appeared to have arrived at many junctures, subsequent generations always found out that this was a foolish thought. The decline of Rome is of particular interest here : An empire unsurpassed in its power, a clear leader in technology and administrative system, a culture which was fast spreading around the world – does it sound familiar so far – had every reason to believe that they can go on, forever!

Yet, we know what happened, how it happened. Similar stories are littered all through our history. It proves again and again that technological leadership is not enough. There is almost no end of history, and human beings so far have not done a good job of predicting its path.

Yes, I am sure that this is not the end of history, we are heading out for an era-defining crisis again. How and when it will come is not sure, as I said, human beings were never very good at predicting the future. But it does not look good at the moment, and we must prepare for the rainy day sometime soon.

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"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

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We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

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