There are presumably two versions of the path of human history; one is based on the Arrow of History and the other is Circular Path of History. The former is the idealist who believes that history can be corrected and placed on a path to a more perfect reality where governance is taken from its Hobbesian State on to the targeted perfected society. The latter is the realist camp where history has been and will continue to revolve through the same errors, fixes and other acts and reactions repeated adinfinitum. One can read how this was applied by President Obama as he went from his initial idealist views and eventually matured into a realist view according to Charles Krauthammer.
The liberal or idealist versions of history and governance, in theory, result in targeting treaties, trade agreements, interconnectivity, United Nations governance overview and other Universalist actions by which undesirable actions such as aggressive conquests of territories is mediated or prevented by a form of semi-formed morass of soft glue. This version spends little if any capital to adjust individual governance and instead seeks to restrain all governance limiting them to affecting solely within their borders and prevented from any external interaction to channels approved and writ large in treaties and trade pacts. These are the dreamers who view an eventual world governance forming some utopian eventuality without repeating the same mistakes repeatedly.
The Conservative or realist versions of history and governance, in theory, aims at improving individual governance in order to prevent the aggressions and other disruptive effects of the cycle of history. Their view has used the observation that democracies seldom go to war with their adversaries and are more likely to mitigate differences through peaceful means. They believe that the path to nirvana must pass through democratization of governances worldwide using nation-building as their main tool. This method has the drawback that it requires a long and possible indefinite involvement of troops, advisors and security personnel who will be required to prevent any challenge outside of elections. Even changes affected through elections may still require intervention by this realist view in order to prevent any drifting into a position where the governance becomes established and uncontested such as would have occurred in Egypt had the Muslim Brotherhood remained the elected power in Egypt as this would have resulted in their taking the position of approving access to the ballot. This was prevented by an almost as dangerous event where the military removed the Muslim Brotherhood governance and the Commander of the Army, General Sisi, came to power as the newly elected President. This government will also require watching to assure that the Presidency does not simply become the highest position of the military always filled by the former Commanding General. When and if President Sisi either is not a candidate or is defeated, the next President and their history will tell us much about if Egypt has become a true democracy and whether it will long remain one, free of either straight and enforced through arms dictatorship or a Muslim Brotherhood theocracy where the democratic voting is but a fig leaf covering the reality beneath.
One unique democracy which was enforced by the military which was quite unique was the governance of Turkey as designed by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk after the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. This democratic governance was assured by the military where they were to guard against a religious takeover of the government. There were a number of military interventions and each resulted in a special election held within a relatively short period and Turkey returned to its democratic constitution, the same constitution which charged the military with the power of preserving the democratic nature of Turkey. Around 2005 the military in Turkey had planned to replace the government as they had decided that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had established himself as a permanent religious ruler over Turkey and that he had rigged future elections to preserve his rule. As Turkey was also seeking entry into the European Union, something which would never come to be no matter what Turkey would do to please the Europeans, and the leadership of the European Union, numerous European governments all advised the Turkish military to stand down and President Bush threatened an end of American aid to Turkey and questioned their continued membership in NATO should the military replace the government even with their holding new special elections within ninety days thus Recep Tayyip Erdoğan remained in power, the military went through a shake-up replacing every general who might stand against Erdogan with a cherry picked general and the courts were restructured and Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have held power even to the point of forcing new elections when after a regular election the AKP did not hold a majority of the Ministerships and between the two elections there were many incidents which were suspicious. Thus dies a democracy.
We have a slightly different view of the paths of history and it combines the two varieties, it takes the circular path of the realists and we will add to it the arrow of history of the idealists and makes a spiral of history. Let us try and sort this out and explain. Let us go back in ye old way-back machine to the time of the biblical character of Abraham. Before Abraham there was human sacrifice where the lame, the weak, the unproductive, the young and the old were routinely removed through human sacrifice. Enemies taken prisoner were either worked to death, abused in all manners of degradations including physical, sexual and demeaned eventually being used in human sacrifice. Some societies’ members of the society would compete to become such a sacrifice as it was viewed as an honor to be sacrificed for the good of the rest. With the intervention of the sacrificing of Isaak, humanity took a step away from its violent and abhorrent past towards what is today viewed as civilized behavior. This was the arrow of history moving the circle such that it would continue to spiral until almost no society used human sacrifice as a set practice.
Later there was another firing of the arrow and pushing the spiral along with the handing down of the Law at Mount Sinai. What is not often thought about was that the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, came along with the Ten Commandments and the guide to good governance and the first set of laws defining human rights. The concept that any ruler is not to gather great wealth in horses, cattle, gold, currency or possessions as well as tasked to write their own Torah, book for book, chapter by chapter, paragraph for paragraph, sentence for sentence, word for word and letter for letter perfect, free of any mistake even in the form of the individual letter and their formation is written in Torah. Every letter started with the top which was always the letter Yudh and from that the rest of the letter is formed. There were laws of property and ownership, recompense for loss of property. The guidance for judgeship and the application of the law free from influence of wealth or poverty, high position or beggar or any other difference making reference for the application of the law to be blind to all but the law. Further, the society was instructed to treat the stranger with respect, those taken in war were to be granted decent respect and slaves had rights to decent treatment and being well cared for. These and many other laws which we retain today in many Western lands were all found within Torah with many in Deuteronomy.
Life continued and governments came to try new forms with the noted advancing by the Greeks with a Republic. This form of government almost died before the Persian Empire but was quite possibly preserved by the Spartans at Thermopylae in a land and sea battle which is still studied by modern armies in their military colleges. The arrow widened the spiral for a period and the spiral turns anew. Religious tyranny would threaten the spiral again with the fall of the Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Empire and the threat of Islamic religious tyranny rolling through Europe destroying Christianity and rule of the people. Charles the Hammer Martel prevented further invasion of Europe from out of the west at the Battle of Tours in 732AD. On the eastern front in Europe the advance of the Ottoman Empire was turned back twice at Vienna. The initial battle was the Siege of Vienna of 1529 where the Ottomans captured Vienna and after rested only to retreat subsequently as this was the Ottoman Empire’s high water mark. This assault was led by Suleiman the Magnificent. The second Siege of Vienna was in 1683 beginning on September 12 by Kara Mustafa leading a force of 150,000. King John III Sobieski of Poland broke the siege after about two months and this marked the end of threats from the Ottoman Empire which collapsed after World War I.
Scientific discoveries and philosophical and political progress has slowly over time made for what we consider to be a more civil and peaceful society though the deaths due to war increased century to century or even often decade to decade until the dropping of two bombs, one on Hiroshima and the next on Nagasaki and warfare has become a far more dangerous endeavor and thus became something fought solely in far more limited manner. This will remain a great push forward by the arrow by necessity and fears of complete annihilation. This fear might continue indefinitely or some nation may decide to use nuclear weapons, perhaps even the most damaging and effective city killing thermonuclear device leading to an ever widening nuclear meltdown of societies possibly leading to a new dark age where the spiral of history could go through a devastating recoil very much like the loosing of a stretched coiled spring. Whether such has happened before in history is a question for which we have no definitive answer.
The hope is that the spiral will continue to move mankind into a more perfect society where individual liberties and freedoms are protected and even advanced. The threat of an unwinding of the coil taking mankind back to a tribal uncivil set of brutal societies where tribe fights tribe for limited wealth and resources is ever present. The greater the coils spread and stretch separating one modern society compared to another modern society, there is a tension which will always threaten to recompress the spiral forcing the coils to spring backwards undoing much of what has been invested in stretching the spiral straining it as if a coiled spring. This is why we need to employ both versions of changing history for the better, invest in a tangle of treaties, trade deals, international agreements and other entanglements while also seeking to perfect society by aiming to expand democratic rule and human rights. These two forces must be combined with the third force which defines the separation of the individual coils of the spiral, the advancement of the human individual. That is the necessary change, the only true and real advancement, the improvement of the individual and their rights and standing as equals. Making merit, action and accomplishment, resulting from education, intelligence and ability, as the determining of one’s standing and wealth within the society and allowing for every individual to possess the power and ability to advance and achieve position to the best of their abilities and efforts is the basis of modern society and need be spread throughout the world if it is to remain so.
The improvement of the individual is the only guarantor of advancement thus one of the most important items which must be achieved is the enlightenment of the individual and the freeing of all people as individuals and given the potential for advancement through actions and abilities. That is where the challenge is situated in the world today. In too many places the people are oppressed and kept all but enslaved by a small number of elitists. Elitism is the enemy of actual progress and must be avoided and defeated and replaced with a society structure which values the individual and desires of the individual to be the engine for advancement of the society and for the greater good of the entirety of society instead of enriching only the few. Humankind since the earliest days of human sacrifice has progressed and if one were to make a comparison then humankind has advanced from the tribal stage similar to baboons who attack other tribes fiercely without mercy to a stage of chimpanzees who stake an area and do not impinge on their neighbor unless in a form of actual warfare and are hopefully to be able to reach the point where our society is more similar to the Bonobo communities which are peace-loving and generally egalitarian. That is a crude comparison but it is also a fairly symbolic view of the potentials of our simian predecessors whose societies resided with very different resources and competition for these resources where they either competed for every morsel, competed to protect their area, their zone or they shared and lived with peace and where any differences are settled without undue violence. The problem is we are at a cringe-worthy point in human history where either great strides are right before us or a great decompression forcing a recoiling of the spiral and a loss of advancements to a more primitive place where the individual has no real rights and the few stand over their perceived lessors. The fall of the society which had progressed from Abraham through Moses, the Greeks, Romans, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the Information Age and should we be fortunate, the Biologic Advancement and virtual immortality bringing the “Age of Aquarius,” at any point could destroy almost all progress and reset the entire string.
Beyond the Cusp