Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum

Cicero: to be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child

Quid enim est aetas hominis, nisi ea memoria rerum veterum cum superiorum aetate contexitur?

‘The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living’ (Marx) — today this, says Dalrymple,

is how history is taught or used, as if the past were something to liberate ourselves from.

History as nightmare

explains why Europe is so paralysed in its efforts to control immigration by people of very alien culture.

Dalrymple notes that any reference to national identity or desire for the preservation of a culture is

deemed the first step on the slippery slope to Auschwitz.

There have been nightmares in history — many — but history as nightmare, he points out,

is not the whole of history by any means. Only if you take all that exists for granted, as if it were a natural phænomenon something like the weather, can you fail to appreciate the achievements of the past. To lack interest in history except as an instrument in our hands is to become shallow.

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