The Lessons of History is a rare book.
While most books on history retrace the past, this one aims to foretell the future. How? By identifying patterns that stay constant across human history.
These are my notes from the book.
Insights from the book:
- Freedom and equality are opposites. The more free an environment, the more people better suited to its needs accumulate its rewards. Which means you can't have both perfect freedom and perfect equality.
- Inequality is not only natural, it grows with civilisation. Specialisation of tasks increase over time which in turn makes people unequally valuable to their group.
- Instability arises at some point — the many poor versus the few rich. This becomes increasingly critical until wealth is redistributed either by legislation or by revolution.
- Religion and puritanism rise when laws are feeble, skepticism and paganism prevail when the laws and government are strong.
- People who manage money usually prevail over people who manage people and who in turn prevail over people who manage things.
- History is inflationary. This implies hoarding assets is a better strategy than hoarding money.
- The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.