Will Durant’s The Lessons of History is a magnificent book: clear, direct, and comprehensive in its assessment of world history. It’s one of those, “Why have I never read this before?” books. Durant provides an analysis of history that is devoid of political correctness. In short, it’s a history that people need to know.
Why have most people never heard of Will Durant? Very simple: he was not a Cultural Marxist. I’ve spoken before on the influence of Cultural Marxism in America, and how it shoehorns the oppressor/oppressed model into every subject (with straight, white Europeans males being the oppressor). Durant is not part of the Frankfurt School in that regard. He talks about a subject, like socialism for example, and examines it with a broad, comparative lense: using examples in China, Peru, Europe, etc. So we get an honest assessment of the topic, as opposed to a manipulative abuse of information.
Here are a few takeaways from the book:
Equality Does Not Exist in Nature
According to Durant, equality is does not exist in nature; rather, it’s an enlightenment theory with no connection to the natural world:
Since Nature (here meaning total reality and its processes) has not read very carefully the American Declaration of Independence or the French Revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man, we are all born unfree and unequal: subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group (p. 19-20).
Very true. All you need to do is watch “Animal Planet” to realize this. If animals were equal, they would all live to the same age, be born with the same strength, etc. But clearly they’re not. The Serengeti is horrifically discriminatory. It takes and gives life without empathy. The lion eats the gazelle, regardless if the gazelle deserved it or not.
The same is true with humans of course. This is a topic I wrote about in a previous post, actually. Why are some children born with fatal heart conditions, while others live to be 100 and smoke? Why are some be born to be dwarfs, while others are 6’4? There is so much genetic inequality that it’s almost laughable to assert otherwise.
The Enforcement of Equalism in Humans Will Lead to Chaos
Durant believes that applying equalism to human interaction is a flawed idea.
For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other die…only the man who is below the average in economic ability desires equality (p. 20)
In short, weak people like equality because it makes them stronger. I thought of feminism when I read this. Why was Andrea Dworkin—a hideous ham beast of a woman—so concerned with “equality”? It’s because her sexual market value was low. “Equality” meant that her sexual market value would rise, improving her rank within society.
This same kind of logic could be seen in the last election cycle. So many women with a low sexual market value wanted Hillary to win. Their logic could be summarized as this:
- I’m a 5; Hillary Clinton is a 5. If she wins, now I’m a 10. That’s great!!
- I’m a 5; Trump’s wife and daughters are a 10; if he wins, I’m a 5. Unacceptable!!
In short, “equality” is a way to make the weak strong and the strong weak. It’s a type of comminism, really.
Durant also points out that equalism can destroy an economy. For example, rich nations feel an obligation to take care of poor nations. But how long can the handout last?
The recent spectacle of Canada and the United States exporting millions of bushels of wheat while avoiding famine and pestilence at home seemed to provide a living answer to Malthus…this solution merely postpones the calamity. There is a limit to the fertility of the soil.
In short, the soil of a nation can only produce so much food; hopefully, just enough to feed its own nation. When it is required to feed other nations, then chaos eventually ensues. One can see an example of this in America’s constant desire to feed Africa. This has led to the denigration of our native soil, via an over-reliance on monoculture agriculture. It’s difficult enough to feed a nation of 310 million people. Having to feed the entire world will have a detrimental effect on America’s soil.
The root cause of these problems, according to Durant, is a belief in equality:
“…the natural inequality of men soon re-creates an inequality of possessions and privileges, and raises to power a new minority with essentially the same instincts as in the old. 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.” (p. 72)
Equality can only last for so long. Eventually, the strong will rise and the weak will fall. All of the social engineering in the world cannot prevent the inevitable. I found his point here to be true. As much as I believe in charity, I find that it is often pointless. Very few people want to self-improve, strive for more, or be great. Most just want to exist.
Will Durant’s book is a must read. It’s a reminder that the liberal left has been “burning” books for many years now; not in a physical sense, of course. But they conveniently omit important works from the cannon. So most students will never get to read the work of Will Durant.
It’s time for us to re-educate ourselves; and The Lessons of History should be part of this re-education.