The Most Memorable Take Away From Middle School History

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Every American student has heard, read, or written the quote, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” more times than they can remember. It is probably the most memorable take away from middle school history classes. It comes from a saying by 19th century philosopher George Santayana, who originally wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (Santayana 243). While its unrelenting repetition has earned it a reputation as a cliché, overused history essay attention grabber, its validity cannot be denied: it is a fundamental aspect of life to learn from one’s mistakes. Every dictatorship or tyrannical government eventually leads to revolution, just as every revolution that places total power in the hands of a single ruler leads to an autocratic rule. High quality institutions will always create cycles of positive feedback that are difficult to reverse, encouraging good behavior and in turn building the strongest societies. Accordingly, authoritarian institutions that funnel the majority of the wealth into the hands of an elite minority will never progress in the long run. When you look at oppressive institutions, North Korea for example, a very small league of elites live in luxury while 99% of the population is left poor, impoverished, and often starving. It’s not that these rulers lack the means or knowledge to run a country efficiently; they know exactly what they’re doing. A successful dictator not only builds an empire

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