Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Unpredictability of History

Things we assume to be true mislead us the most. We assume that the world is orderly and things happen due to human planning and ingenuity, but history is often moved by human errors and by events hardly anyone in that age expected. In 1492, when Columbus departed on a voyage to discover the sea route to India, no one could have predicted that a navigational error would lead him to the island home of the Taíno in the Caribbean. 

No one foresaw the First World War, the quick dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the defeat of the Greeks in Anatolia and the rise of Turkey, the rise of Hitler, the loss of Churchill in the 1945 election, the sudden collapse of the British Empire, the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the spread of the Internet, and the rise of China. The next decade, the next year, and even tomorrow cannot be taken for granted. Something that no one foresees today might happen and completely transform the world, for better or worse. 

The rules we make, the political institutions we create, and the mass behavior we develop will not protect our society from chaos when a major unexpected event strikes. Unexpected events are the drivers of history, and they shape the present and the future.

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