Since the beginning of the human race, up until relatively recent decades physical strength —and/or military power— was a constant, and quite frequently, was the most determinant factor to rule any type of social organization, from the family to an entire empire. That’s a very sad and shameful fact, but it is also a true recollection of how mankind used to behave until relatively recent decades. Let’s go over some of the most relevant examples:
Reason finally begun to prevail, although still far from a full-fledge evolution in this regard. Developed nations already have arrived to the unequivocal conclusion that old-fashioned, anachronic military wars are an aberration, an insult to intelligence and human dignity, not to mention that, from a strictly pragmatic standpoint, wars are a lose-lose proposition for all parties involved; there are no long term winners.
In fact, the preservation of peace among member countries was the main idea behind the creation of the EU among the founding six nations, with its predecessor, the 1951 European Coal & Steel Agreement. The major objective was to establish a common bond so strong that would make it nearly impossible for member countries to declare war among one another. Since the end of WWII, that principle has been likewise observed by all developed nations, by all democracies.
Going back in history, the UN itself —at the end of WWII—, and its League of Nations forerunner —at the end of WWI— not coincidentally had the same purpose at its core, the preservation of peace in the world.
Thus, there is high hope and very good reasons to believe that the developed world has already left behind the bloody past of territorial and power-thirsty military aggressions amongst other nations. A late but indeed a most welcome step in mankind’s evolutionary path. There is still plenty to do in this most critical global aspect outside of the developed world. Nonetheless, it is no minor feat that the developed world has finally reached this stage of advancement. Moreover, it is an indispensable platform for the rest of the world to learn from.
Since the beginnings of time, wrongly so, women were considered to be inferior to men. Its origin, probably deriving from the difference in physical strength generally speaking. However, when widening the comparison scope to the intellectual, biological, emotional, and even spiritual realms, the situation dramatically changes, to such a degree to render irrelevant the physical strength advantage of men in relation to women.
Mankind’s evolution process slowly got the facts and the appropriate lessons right and, as a result, many rectifying changes have taken place in the last decades. At last, women have become eligible to fill almost any position and high posts previously reserved only for men, provided they have the right qualifications. Here are just a few of the many testimonials of this constructive social change during recent decades:
• President of the US’ Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen
• German Chancellor, Angela Merkel
• UK’s Prime Minister, the late Margaret Thatcher
• President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff
• CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra
• CEOs of HP, Meg Whitman, and formerly Carly Fiorina
• CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer
- Racial discrimination —in western society, mainly, but not exclusively to blacks— is of a similar nature than the previous case. Combining the use of force with a perverse —and utterly false— principle whereby blacks —or any other ethnic group— were considered an inferior class of human beings, gave birth to the humiliating and most shameful millenary practice of slavery. Once slavery (in that form) was abolished in the XIX century, the day-to-day non-discriminatory spirit still took many more decades to achieve a pragmatic, functional level where, for instance, an African American could gain the presidency of the US —Barack Obama. There is still a lot of progress to be made in the race discrimination front; nonetheless, mankind seems to be solidly moving in the right direction in this foremost aspect of development.
Based on the ideas of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, during a significant part of the XX century a good portion of the world’s population was governed under the grotesque principle than the state, and mostly the state, had the ultimate answers to mankind’s most pressing problems and aspirations. As well all know, the Soviet version of Communism imploded in the late 80s, and the Chinese version was profoundly transformed by Deng Xiaoping since the late 70s and onwards, to such an extent that the original program has been rendered obsolete and inapplicable.
Order, organization, discipline, and teamwork are concepts widely regarded, and rightly so, as pillars for progress and socioeconomic well being. With the benefit of hindsight, it is evident that the major drawback of communism was a very poor understanding of limits; they carried the antithesis of the uber-solid previous concepts beyond reasonable limits.
Communist regimes gave the state a superlative commanding role, at the expense of the individual. We all now know for sure that this was a guaranteed recipe for disaster. The reason behind that spectacular failure is quite simple: order, organization, discipline and teamwork are superb concepts, as long as they do not interfere with individual creativity and innovation. That balance has to be kept as much as possible in the optimum level.
We now know with certainty that authoritarian governments are not a viable long-term solution for development and social well being since their permanent interference with liberties structurally hamper high levels of creativity and innovation.
The lessons to be drawn from the four big blunders of humanity previously outlined are uncontroversial and extremely valuable. Policymakers and society as a whole should strive to have these lessons crystal clear in their minds. There has been excessive misery and suffering throughout the ages by the lack of a proper understanding of the big truths behind the true nature of things. A well-informed, learned and demanding society is the best guarantee to avoid grotesque deviations from righteousness as the four previous historical cases illustrate.