Follow the Money

Erik ReeL painting
Erik ReeL, opus 1680, acrylic on linen

Herodotus and Thucydides reveal that between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars, the entire Greek-speaking world for the most part had monetized virtually every bit of land and aspect of civilized life.

This determines a lot of how and why they did things, including wage war. In fact, it seems to be an integral aspect of the motivations in the ancient Greek world for the near perpetual warfare that finally engulfed and bankrupted them during the long and horrific Peloponnesian conflicts.

So Orwell’s grim vision of the future of Capitalism and its potential for perpetual warfare was prefigured already in Thucydides’ history. On the other hand, history presents us with one of its little ironies: that modern Greece has become the current focus and  challenge to Europe’s latest attempts at melding a peaceful world order with the Capitalist monetization of every aspect of society. Or is it just one more instance revealing that the project is inherently contradictory after all? And perhaps not an irony, but confirmation that the Greeks have held to a profound truth all along.

Those who don’t study history

Erik ReeL painting #1676
Erik ReeL, acrylic, Opus 1676

… are doomed to repeat it.  This last winter I re-read Herodotus. While things are never really exactly the same, it is a shame that Congress and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the USA leaders had not read Herodotus before they decided to invade Iraq,  or if they had, did not pay a bit more attention to the fallacies engendered by the hubris of the Persians as they, disastrously, invaded Greece,

Herodotus basically not only explains what happened, he inserts enough philosophical commentary and “teaching stories” to map out most of the basic mistakes and psychological fallacies involved, and later committed all over again by the Americans and British in Iraq.

When will the human race learn?  Wars do not solve problems; they only create a new, and usually more extreme, set of problems.

Worse, war is unpredictable: so beware ye who start one.