The vision of youth

I've forgotten what it is like to be young. A discussion with with some very enthusiastic zealots about how their view of life would solve the world's problems reminded me of what it it like to still know the answer to everything. Reminded me of George Santayana's saying: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Winston S. Churchill said “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Many systems have been tried through history in a wide range of cultures and none have been shown to be perfect. Personally I like the benevolent monarch - none of the time wasting farce that we endure with our system - although obvious risks.

One view of this farce is shown in "The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer" starring Peter Cook. It was co-written by Cook, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, and Kevin Billington, who directed the film. The film was devised and produced by David Frost under the pseudonym "David Paradine". Of course the humour is dry and ironic - even with a subtle nod to Peter's comedy partner Dudley Moore. It shows initial enthusiasm for real democracy turning to the appointment of a near dictator.

I was reminded of these (and other) incidents in listening to the enthusiastic exposition of an ideology. That's not saying there weren't merits in what was being promoted, but whether we're talking about a benevolent monarch or a totally democratic system, every system ultimately fails. That's been proven throughout history.

Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans all had great empires that eventually failed. In more modern times we've come from a British background which has been slowly falling apart - and in other cultures we see people like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot and many others wreck havoc, despite often starting with high ideals.

Unlike most issues, I do have an answer to this - one solution to end wars, terrorism, starvation and other problems. I thought that no-one would support this - but in recent times I have found there are those who seem serious about it. Apparently there are people who believe the earth would be a better place without humanity.

That's right - the only way to get rid of all our problems is to wipe out humanity. In case people take this as final proof I have lost my mind, I do NOT propose this as a solution. But every system people have tried or want to try is doomed to fail for one simple reason - people.

Some refuse to believe this, and that's fine - we live in a free world - more or less. But again it takes me back to a game we played as young people. We were divided into four teams, and each team was given a small number of both black and white counters. It was then explained each round consisted of each team submitting one counter. If all four put in white they got their one back - plus one from the banker. If three were white, the black received them. If there were two of each the two blacks got theirs back plus one of the whites. Can't remember what happened if three blacks were submitted - but if four were submitted then the banker collected the lot. The only way we could win as a whole was to co-operate so that the banker paid. Sadly the only winner on the night was the banker. The only slight comfort was we weren't alone - apparently it's extremely uncommon for those not familiar with the game to "win".

Of course it's only a game - or is it? In 2014, almost half of the world's wealth was owned by just one percent of the population. That one percent owns 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world's population.

The optimism and idealism of youth is a great asset - but as long as they think they're the first young people to have great hope for the future, they're condemned to repeat the failures of the past.

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Last modified: 28 November 2020.