I recently came across a book with the same title as this post, by a British historian Ian Morris, that tells an obscurantist history of the West, attributing its successes to geography. There have been similar books (e.g., Collapse by Jared Diamond) that attribute the rise and fall of empires to climate changes, and the availability of food and energy. This is a post-colonial trend to narrate history through a lens of material factors. During colonial times, history was narrated via the lens of culture, race, ideology, and religion—attributing the successes of the West to their superior civilization. Even before that, historical change was attributed to great men like Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon.
These historical narratives are false because the true cause of the rise and fall of a society is its approach to sin and piety. Sin creates short-lived successful societies due to the self-negating cycle of sin. Piety creates long-lived successful societies, due to the self-reinforcing cycle of piety. (For more on the cycles of history, see this post.) Western historical narratives have generally deflected attention from the moral character of a society. They have also failed to anticipate the future, based on the lessons of history, or what a long-lived society needs. History is rather involved in creating favorable narratives to appease the powerful to make them feel good about the status quo.
Table of Contents
- 1 Causes of Western Power
- 2 Consequences of Whitewashing History
- 3 The Problem of the Forbidden Fruit
- 4 Two Responses to the Original Sin
- 5 Protestant Reformation Ideology
- 6 The Nature of Constrained Society
- 7 The Nature of Unconstrained Society
- 8 Intermingling of Societies
- 9 Why the West Has an Edge
- 10 The Western Edge is Not Permanent
- 11 Retaliation Against Exploitation
- 12 India’s Decline Due to Immorality
- 13 The Longevity of Indian Civilization
- 14 False Narratives About History
Causes of Western Power
There is a widespread belief that the West is supreme in the world today because it has so much power, wealth, prestige, etc. What gave the West this power, wealth, and prestige? Many Westerners believe that it was their religious traditions and moral superiority. Some people believe that the West became great due to accidents of climate and geography—their morbid lives propelled them toward hard work. Then some Westerners believe that the West became great because of its superior ideology, and intellectual capability when it created modern science. All these narratives are flawed because: (a) the problems of religion and morality held the West back during the middle ages, (b) other cultures have had more morbid and hard lives, and (c) superior intellectual capability, mathematics, architecture, and astronomy have existed with masons and architects since the time of the pyramids in Egypt, the construction of temples in India, and other parts of Southeast Asia.
In this post, I will present an alternative answer to this question: The West rules the world because Protestant Christianity removed the discussion of sin and piety from people’s lives. When people are relieved of the idea of sin and the concomitant guilt of sinful actions, then they can do things that others (who worry about sin and piety) cannot, and faster. Such actions give them power over others. It is not a better culture, religion, philosophy, science, social organization, capitalism, or the rule of law that does this. It is a capacity for brutality that other people governed by the ideas of sin and piety have no answer to. The power of the West came due to colonialism, slavery, and economic exploitation. The West was successful because the societies they looted and exploited could not match their capacity for brutality.
Consequences of Whitewashing History
When historians attribute the success of the West to things other than colonialism, slavery, and exploitation, they whitewash history, peddle false narratives, and cover up the misdeeds of the West. They tell themselves that “we are great people”. Feeling good about oneself has a huge market and the lies are lapped up as truths because people read history to feel good rather than to learn its lessons. This so-called history is nothing more than fictional entertainment to distract the public from reality. It hides all the impending dangers.
People don’t know that when a nation does something to outsiders, it eventually does it to insiders. They remain numb to the suffering of others so long as it benefits them. They dehumanize others, rationalize their suffering as the inevitable consequence of their own superiority, and distract themselves through consumption and entertainment. Numbness to the suffering of those who are far away is, however, a stepping stone to the numbness to the suffering of those nearby. Once people have become sufficiently numb, they don’t care about others in their community, society, or nation either. They have internalized the idea that brutality for self-interest is a natural way of life, and it is employed by everyone in their self-interest. As brutality becomes the jungle law of survival, a society destroys itself by cruelty to each other.
For most of history, all major societies were ruled by the sin-piety distinction. Their rise and fall were determined by their piety. Everyone has heard of the fall of the Roman empire as its elites were taking part in orgies. But for the last few centuries, the distinction between sin and piety has been eroded by religious and secular changes. A new method of narrating history based on material facts has replaced the lessons of history that omit more than it explains. This has transformed history into entertainment because history is used to make people feel good about themselves. The materialist historians detach history from the questions of sin and piety and attach it to geography, climate, land, agriculture, water, minerals, etc. They attribute the fall of empires to losses in wars, an economic decline caused by famines, and climate changes. They rationalize the pursuit of wealth and power as a natural human state and ignore the moral condition of the population in society.
However, because sinfulness is normalized as the natural state of humans, rationalized as the way to make people prosperous, and obscured to attribute civilizational triumphs to personal greatness rather than collective barbarity, all the impending dangers of immorality are hidden. The impending danger is the destruction of the immoral society. People who neglect them are not intelligent or enlightened. They lack the courage to accept what lies in the future. They keep spreading lies even as society collapses right in front of their eyes.
The Problem of the Forbidden Fruit
Every advanced society in the past had some notion of sin and piety. Piety, it was traditionally believed, leads to a better life on earth and in the afterlife. Sin, on the other hand, creates chaos in this world and worsens the afterlife. Different traditional societies have differed in their definitions of sin and piety, but you cannot find an advanced traditional society without some notions of sin and piety. Those people who did not have the distinction between sin and piety could not organize society and remained fragmented. A civilized society appeared with the dawn of some idea of sin and piety, which was used to organize people into norms and behaviors, which gave it power and wealth.
The Vedic society has had the most sophisticated theory of sin and piety, called karma and reincarnation, and it is seen as a natural law called dharma. Other societies have constructed alternative theories. All theories of sin and piety have come to be known as different religions, with varied moralities. Religion was essential to form a society because a definition of sin and piety was necessary.
One such idea of sin and piety appears in the Abrahamic religions in the story of Adam and Eve, who have been given a Garden of Eden to enjoy but are forbidden by God to eat a certain fruit. The definition of sin and piety was therefore given by God. However, as Adam and Eve disobey God’s order, they are banished to earth, and the successive generations inherit that “original sin” to become sinful. This story attributes sinfulness to ancestry. Basically, we have bad genes. Don’t blame us for sin, because our ancestry is responsible for it.
Two Responses to the Original Sin
Having set aside the origin of sin, Abrahamic religions now turn to the next question: How do we get out of sin. There are two broad approaches to this.
The first approach says: We have to go back to piety. For example, God gave us some commandments through Moses, which if followed, will make us pious. Similarly, there are messiahs like Jesus and Mohammed, who tell us how to become pious. All these commandments reinvoke the idea of the Forbidden Fruit—certain pleasures are forbidden for us. If we avoid these forbidden fruits, then God will take us back to heaven. Hence, salvation depends on us—we have to act piously. God is waiting for us to become pious before He takes us back.
The second approach says: We are never going to get rid of sin because we have inherited bad genes from our ancestors. The only way we can get salvation is through the grace of God. If we simply believe that God is ready to show us grace, and we believe in His omnibenevolent power of accepting our sins, then we will get salvation by His grace, not because we have become pious. Since we cannot attain salvation by piety, there is no point in talking about forbidden fruits, and how to avoid them; these were relevant for Adam and Eve, not us.
Protestant Reformation Ideology
The Protestant Reformation provides the second response to the problem of sin. It divides its doctrine into two parts: (a) The Covenant of Works, and (b) The Covenant of Grace. The covenant of works was the instruction that God gave to Adam and Eve when He forbade them to eat a certain fruit. Then, God gave a new covenant of works through Moses, where He tried to reform the fallen children of Adam and Eve. However, God realized over time that people can never be reformed. Therefore, He sent His only son—Jesus—to be sacrificed on the cross for everybody’s sin, and if we believe in that sacrifice, and how graceful God has been to sacrifice His one true son (others are bad genes), then we will go back to heaven. The commandments of Moses are Covenant of Works, and God has given a new Covenant of Grace through Jesus because He realized that we cannot become pious given our bad genes.
According to this view, there is a certain continuity of creed from Judaism to Catholicism to Islam in the sense that they are all talking about a Covenant of Works, delivered by His messiahs. All these religions are asking the soul to perform some pious actions to go to heaven. But Protestant Christianity is not demanding piety; you cannot be purified because of the original sin.
This idea is formally stated in Protestantism as Sola Fide—by faith alone, which means not by our work. Sola Fide ends the discussion of the Forbidden Fruit. It was forbidden by God for Adam and Eve, and it was then forbidden by Moses for Jews. But after the appearance of Jesus, nothing is forbidden, because God realized that we are irredeemable, and therefore He has chosen to redeem us by His grace. Hence, we can stop talking about sin and piety, confession of sins, repentance for the sins, paying a price for the sins, washing of the sins through rituals or sacrifices, purifying ourselves through remorse, and so on. All this is unnecessary. There is sin by default, and hence there is grace by default. So, we can go on enjoying this world, because God has assured us that He will take us back to heaven if we believe in His grace and the new covenant, and stop worrying about sin, repentance, remorse, piety, and redemption.
The Nature of Constrained Society
Every traditional society has been held back in its works due to the idea of sin. American Natives, for instance, lived in harmony with nature and did not cut down forests because it was considered immoral. These forests were spirits and gave them livelihood graciously. If they were cut unnecessarily, then the spirits would retaliate. The Natives killed some animals for food, but not indiscriminately because the forest spirits would punish them. People needed to live in harmony with nature and accept the bare minimum from nature for their survival. There was no need for the economic advancement of society.
Similarly, Africans worshipped their ancestors, who had given them good instructions (rather than passing the bad genes of sinfulness). These ancestors had taught them to live in harmony with nature, treating nature as a person.
In Buddhist societies, non-violence was a fundamental principle. Since most economic advancements required some form of violence, therefore, they were minimized. In societies governed by Confucianism, people had to attain harmony with the cosmos, and if that harmony was broken, then the cosmos would retaliate and create poverty and destruction. Economic advancement was possible as long as it was done in harmony with the rest of the cosmos.
In Vedic society, there was karma, which punished a wrongdoer using a tit-for-tat principle. Economic advancement was possible, but it had to be constrained by one’s duty toward all other life forms. The notions of sin and piety thus constrained every traditional society from economic development.
The Nature of Unconstrained Society
This natural idea of sin and piety was slowly eroded under the influence of Roman emperors who considered themselves superior beings because they had been given divine rights by God, which permitted them to hold slaves. They could rationalize many of their sins by invoking their divine status and authority. However, because the emperor was responsible for upholding law and order, there were some limitations to his power. The Catholic Priests constrained their autocratic power. And the society at large was taught about sin and piety, remorse and repentance, sacrifice and austerities.
Protestants washed away that last remnant of guilt of sin. Enjoying the world was their God-given right because (a) there was no point in debating sin and piety, (b) God had already assured them of a place in heaven, and (c) the Covenant of Works did not apply to them; only the Covenant of Grace did. Now, you cannot be held back by any idea of cosmic harmony, dutifulness toward nature or animals, adverse karma for your actions, or ideas of non-violence. You are free to enjoy the world and do as you deem fit devoid of any guilt.
Protestants now replaced all ideas of sin and piety with the rule of law, which was to be decided by people collectively through a democratic process. Oceans, mountains, rivers, forests, and animals do not vote in a democracy, so their interests are discounted while creating laws. In some countries, slaves were not allowed voting rights. Even women were not given voting rights for a very long time. Basically, some men would decide what is good for them and create laws that suited them collectively. But these laws are negotiable. They can be changed, reversed, or reenacted based on people’s convenience.
Intermingling of Societies
The last 300 years of history have been about the intermingling of people living a life based on some notions of sin and piety with those who had mostly or completely rid themselves of these notions. Those who were born in societies with notions of sin and piety constrained themselves: Violence toward others, exploiting nature, killing animals, cutting trees, and polluting rivers and oceans, were immoral. But all these things were not immoral for most Christians. They could do anything as their guilt had been quelled.
Colonial conquests began as Catholicism began declining in Europe. The Pope wanted to extend Christianity to other lands to replenish his power. Of course, it was rationalized as the spread of religion, civilizing the primitive people, and bringing them to God. Protestants followed suit because they did not want to be left behind. The difference was that Catholics had to rationalize their conquests in the name of religion, while the Protestants did not need that rationalization; they could simply say: We are doing it because we want it.
Of course, some Protestants (e.g., those that went to America) rationalized their conquests as the God-given mandate to spread the “one true religion”. Very quickly, the centralized control over the spread of Christianity through the dictates of the Pope fell behind the individualistic decentralized endeavors of Protestants. The Protestants simply had to gather a band of people and they could do whatever they wanted; they did not need the mandate of kings or the Pope. Decentralization allowed Protestants to move fast in making decisions. Catholics, on the other hand, moved significantly slower because they had to worry about getting permission from their emperors and the Pope.
Those societies that believed in living in harmony with the cosmos moved the next quickest because they were reacting to the changes in the cosmos, created by others. Finally, those stuck in absolutistic principles of non-violence, karma, and reincarnation, treating nature as a living spirit, dutifulness toward others, following the ancestors, etc. were moving the slowest compared to the rest.
Why the West Has an Edge
The West got an edge over the rest of the world because it destroyed its guilt of sin through religion. The original sin was rationalized as that of Adam and Eve. Then, guilt was alleviated by the washing of sins through confessions, repentance, remorse, and sacrifice. Then, guilt was sidestepped when atrocities were committed in the name of civilizing the uncivilized. Finally, guilt was completely removed through the Covenant of Grace. This is the progressive replacement of morals and conscience in people with entitlements to sin.
Most people are born with a conscience. There is an inner voice that tells them if they are doing something wrong. Immorality is also curtained by empathy—i.e., our ability to perceive the pain and suffering of others and feel compassion toward them. Psychopaths, serial killers, brutal dictators, and terrorists don’t have a conscience. There is no inner voice telling them that they are doing something wrong, and they cannot feel the pain of others. Modern history teaches us that these results can be attained even in religion if we progressively rationalize sin by shifting it, pardoning it, or by removing the idea of sin itself.
Those with a conscience (a) cannot do many things due to their inner voices, and (b) what they do will be done slower after evaluating their actions against an inner voice, and their conceptions of sin and piety. One without a conscience, however, will easily (a) do more things, and (b) do them faster.
Western atheistic society has been marching in the same direction. For example, John Locke said that we have no innate knowledge of truth, good, or right; we are born blank slates, and everything is taught to us by the world. Therefore, the inner voice of conscience is not an inner voice; it is the voice of other people. Then, Charles Darwin purged all ideas of sin and guilt when he said that humans are simply evolved animals; just like animals show no empathy, morality, or conscience, similarly, humans need not worry about these things. Then, Frederick Nietzsche argued that the guilt of sin and morality is preventing people from doing great things; we should purge society of religion in order to become Übermensch or powerful men. Then, Sigmund Freud described the mind as dirty and perverted, and it became sick when this dirt and perversion were not given free rein by Victorian morals. Finally, modern materialistic science propped up the idea of genetic determinism leading to the absence of choice or the presence of the illusion of choice.
Therefore, if you are a Protestant, you need not feel guilty for sin, because God has already made His son suffer for your sins, and your place in heaven is assured by the grace of God—you need only believe in God sending His son to save you and constantly reaffirm this belief. Likewise, if you are an atheist, you need not feel guilt, because (a) we are basically animals to do whatever we please, (b) feeling guilty makes us sick, (c) it prevents us from becoming great men, (d) we are not moral beings because morality is just something we were taught by others in society, and (e) even if we violate morality, there is nothing we could do because we are helplessly conditioned by our genes.
The West has an edge over the rest of the world because both religious and atheistic parts of society have rationalized sin to ameliorate guilt. Once you are free of guilt, conscience, empathy, and morality, you gain enormous power over others because you can do things that others cannot, and do them faster. Everyone will be behind you, hindered by their culture, history, philosophy, and ideologies. When both atheistic and religious parts of a society substantially agree on the absence of sin and piety, their debates are pointless. They have the same premises, although they differ in their conclusions. That disagreement is simply about how to reduce the effects of others’ sins on oneself.
The Western Edge is Not Permanent
To maintain this edge, the West has to (a) progressively do things that others will not do, which means being less constrained by conscience, (b) do them faster, (c) in more places and times, and (d) to more living entities. This is basically unsustainable because those affected will be waiting to retaliate.
A society that does these things to other societies, will eventually do it to people in that society, leading to violence. As the government steps in to prevent this violence, the government will give itself enormous power, and do the same things to people who were trying to do them to others. The corporations will steal money by manipulation, and the government will steal it via taxes. The corporations will control people’s lives through propaganda, and the government will do it by force. The corporations will tell people that their selfishness is good for the people, and the government will tell people that their atrocities are meant to protect everyone. Then, people, corporations, and governments will fight each other, the truthful people will be marginalized and silenced, and nobody will be able to get anything done by agreement or consensus. If it is done, it is by force, coercion, threats, violence, and brutality. You cannot discuss morals or sin anymore, because you destroyed it.
The collapse of the Western edge is not a question of if, but only of when. That edge exists as long as the people free of conscience are united in their exploitation of others who are still hindered by their conscience. This is not a permanent situation, and hence, the edge that the West has over others is not permanent. As more people begin to lose their conscience, the criticisms by those who have been hiding their immorality under a moral façade for a long time would be rejected as the critique of a kettle calling the pot black.
Retaliation Against Exploitation
In the Mahabharata, Vidura says śaṭhe śāṭhyaṃ samācaret, which means that toward the wicked, one must act in the same wicked manner. People with a conscience, morality, empathy, etc. have a harder time doing this and they prefer being exploited over being wicked. But the limit of this tolerance is reached when the good-natured person realizes that it is immoral to be exploited. Then he acts out of conscience and morality, rather than inaction due to guilt of the sin incurred by unnecessary violence. Hence, it is said: ahiṃsā paramo dharmaḥ dharma hiṃsā tathaiva ca, which means that non-violence is the greatest dharma, but so is violence in the service of dharma.
India is an example of this problem. When Indians were colonized, they accepted it as their bad karma, the result of their previous deeds. Even when they protested, they tried to use non-violent means. Things reached a point when non-violence wasn’t working, and people tipped toward violence. At that juncture, the foreign rulers in India realized that they cannot fight, and left.
Immorality has a peculiar trajectory. It starts at the top of society and percolates downward to lower sections of society and outward to other societies. Then it is retaliated against, and the retaliation propagates inward to the lower sections of the society and upward to the higher sections. The same is true of each human: Immorality starts with the decline of the moral sense, and it propagates downward into the ego, intellect, thoughts, and actions, and then outwardly into the society and other societies. Then when it is retaliated, the pain comes inward into the society, body, sensations, thoughts, intellect, ego, and moral sense. The pain reforms the morality, which then spreads downward and outward, whereby it is rewarded and the reward then reverts inward and upward, reaffirming the value of virtuous ideology by rewards.
The simple difference between morality and immorality is this—morality creates a self-reinforcing cycle while immorality creates a self-negating cycle. The self-reinforcing cycle strengthens the viewpoint, society, and individuals, while the self-negating cycle weakens the viewpoint, society, and individuals.
India’s Decline Due to Immorality
There are four moral principles: truthfulness, kindness, sacrifice, and cleanliness. Ideally, they are upheld simultaneously. However, in engaging with the wicked, some principles have to be sacrificed sometimes, because one is compelled to be wicked in dealing with the wicked. The general rule is that all four of these principles have to be upheld as far as possible. The exception to that rule is that, if necessary, they can be sacrificed in dealing with the wicked. Who is wicked? Those who are deceitful, unkind, selfish, and unclean.
Bhagavad-Gita 3.21 states: Whatever action is performed by the superior man, common men follow in his footsteps. Whatever standards he (the superior man) sets, the common men emulate. People in a society emulate their elites. Therefore, if a ruler upholds moral principles and is prepared to die for them, then he inspires the citizens to follow moral principles. However, if a ruler upholds self-interest and is prepared to sacrifice others for his self-interest, then he inspires the citizens to sacrifice others for their self-interest. Thus, if the elites are moral then the society is united; but if the elites are selfish, then the society is divided. A moral ruler unites the citizens and a selfish ruler divides them.
All these principles were understood in India of yore. However, around 800 AD, an alien philosophy of Advaita (impersonalism) was introduced in India by Shankaracharya. It claimed: Morality and piety are not spirituality. That is true; spirituality transcends this world and is beyond morality. However, the converse is also true: Immorality and impiety also do not lead to spirituality.
As Advaita spread in India and defeated the advocates of morality, its effect was not more spirituality but less morality. As elites and the common people neglected morality and prioritized self-interest, the society was fragmented, and conquered by foreign invaders because small-time kings betrayed other small-time kings in their self-interest allowing violent invaders to conquer India. India’s decimation began around 1200 AD, which means it took 400 years for a society united by morality to become divided by greed.
The Longevity of Indian Civilization
It takes several centuries for a society united by morals to become divided by greed. India was decimated 400 years after the advent of Advaita. The Mughal rule in India started in 1525 and lasted until about 1850, a mere 325 years. Toward its end, the Mughal rulers were whiling away their lives in sexual escapades in harems, watching prostitute-dancers, and smoking hookah. Similarly, Chinese culture was almost completely destroyed over a period of 350 years as a result of consuming opium, which initially started as a medicine, then became an aphrodisiac, and eventually left everyone addicted, destroying the Qing Dynasty completely. The Greek empire lasted around 300 years (12th to 9th century BC). The Roman empire lasted for 400 years (27 BCE to 395 AD) before it was split into Eastern and Western empires; the Western empire then lasted less than 100 years. The British Empire lasted for 350 years, and the American empire is now around 320 years old (from the 1700s to 2020). Elaborations of their brutality and impiety fill entire library sections.
India of yore, however, was an unbroken civilization for millions of years; kings came and went, but the civilization remained. People today question the longevity of Indian civilization because they cannot find detailed records commensurate with those of the Western empires. But they don’t understand the mentality of a truly long-lived civilization: It stops writing history because it is too long and too vast. People want to know what is truly important; they think that life is too short and too valuable to be wasted on inane trivialities. Thereby, short-lived civilizations glorify their past because they think that they have something unprecedented. Long-lived civilizations, however, look at the past and say: meh. It happened before, and it will happen again. Who wants to fill tomes with historical facts that nobody has the time to read? We will record only the key lessons of history, and get on with more important things in life. The Indian disdain for history itself indicates how long-lived the Indian civilization was. But only long-lived civilizations can understand that mindset.
Thereby, India was an ahistorical society. Only the teachings of great sages and the works of pious kings, along with the rise and destructions of demoniac rulers, were preserved. Everything else was ignored. India wasn’t interested in history, but only in its lessons. What wasn’t a lesson, wasn’t history. A laser focus on the lessons of history gave it piety and longevity.
There is a lot to be learned from history if we care to take its lessons. The problem is that people have short-term thinking, and historians mislead them by peddling the finality of the status quo. Modern historians are so rooted in a materialistic ideology that they think that history is shaped by climate change, agriculture, and the capacity to build ships, airplanes, and guns, which give people power. Since basic human nature is selfish according to the materialist, therefore, whoever has power will use it to exploit others. This is natural determinism of the world and human determinism of immorality. They fail to even discuss the moral underpinnings of society, and how people are naturally united by a moral leader and naturally divided by selfish leaders.
False Narratives About History
Historians don’t understand how morality—e.g., ideas about sin and virtue—shapes people’s self-identity about why they exist in this world and what they should do in life. An ideology of virtue says that we are in this world to become perfect, while the ideology of sin says that we are here to enjoy. That self-identity then shapes their beliefs about the world—e.g., why there is poverty and suffering or prosperity and enjoyment. The virtuous say that suffering is the result of sin, and the sinful say that suffering is due to loss of power. Those beliefs then shape their thoughts about how to avoid suffering and obtain enjoyment—e.g., how to lead a life of duty and avoid sin, or to gather power to exploit others. Those thoughts then translate into technology and its uses: Virtuous technology is about how to lead a simple life of duty, and sinful technology is about how to get more wealth. These ideas then spread outwardly into society, to create a collective consensus on how to exploit others.
If morality, identity, beliefs, and thoughts are imbued with piety, then the actions are moral. If not, they are sinful. Depending on that morality and immorality, a self-reinforcing moral cycle or a self-negating immoral cycle is created. Thereby, empires can rise and fall if they are immoral. But empires can be sustained if they are moral. Longevity is a function of sin and piety.
Of course, the materialist doesn’t want to hear that. He has to create another explanation that detaches history from the ideas of sin and piety because dwelling on sin and piety doesn’t suit a society already living in sin. It cannot delegitimize itself by talking about sin. Thus, all historical narratives are messy, mostly false, and select or twist facts to peddle an agenda.
The result of such histories is many-fold. The culture-driven history (that we are a great culture) makes people feel good by telling them how the past had destined them for the great present, without explaining how they went down or weren’t always powerful. The accident-driven history (that attributes events to climate change, access to water and land, and availability of animals) shifts the blame to one of the numerous observed facts without explaining why other facts did not play an important role. The agency-driven history (that one or two people created a drastic change) again shifts the responsibility to individuals without explaining how other individuals did not have an impact.
Basically, there is no lesson from history. It tells you nothing about what you have to do, why you shouldn’t do certain things, and why certain types of actions will make things better. Without the lessons, history is entertainment. You could have watched a movie, learned nothing from it, and gone on to lead your life as if none of it happened. That is what modern history is.
It doesn’t have to be that way if we are interested in understanding the inner reality more than outer reality, how a moral life creates a better world sustainably and survives through an adverse world knowing that the alternative of immorality will only produce a temporary self-negating cycle.