Revilo Oliver on History

The social and political questions of our day are all primarily historical problems. To think about them rationally, we must begin by consulting the record of human experience in the past. And we soon realize that if only we knew enough about history -- and understood it -- we should have the answers to all our questions.


No man lives long enough to behold with his own eyes a pattern of change in society. He is like the midge that is born in the afternoon and dies at sunset, and which, therefore, no matter how intelligent it might be, could never discover, or even suspect, that day and night come in regular alternation. Unlike the midge, however, man can consult the experience of the comparatively few generations of his species that have preceded him during the comparatively brief period of about five thousand years in which human beings have had the power to leave records for the instruction of their posterity.


From The Journal of Historical Review, March/April 1998 (Vol. 17, No. 2), page 13.