Lesson From The Last Century

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

A great reason for studying history is the startling degree to which it resonates in the present. “However, this much is certain: once truth as such loses its significance; once success usurps the place of justice and goodness; once the holy is no longer perceived or even missed, the spirit is stricken indeed. What then occurs is no longer a matter for psychology; then no therapeutical measures help; the only thing that can save is conversion, metanoia,” Roamano Guardini, religion professor at the University of Munich, wrote in 1956, reprinted in The Intercollegiate Review. “Seen from this viewpoint, how heavily do they weigh, the twelve-year experiment in Germany [Nazism] and that almost four times as old in the East [Soviet communism]?”

“We dare not underrate the historical power of such experiments—still less, as the whole fabric of our present-day life, with its rationalization and mechanization, its techniques of forming public opinion, and its control of education, is a tempting preparation for outright imitation. It can be an effective temptation even when specifically accepted and expressed ideas apparently oppose it, for usually it is the enemy who dictates the methods, and methods are often stronger than ideas.”