The Instigator
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1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
11 Points

History is condemned to repeat itself

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/5/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,496 times Debate No: 5894
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (2)




First, I would like to claim my arguments for this debate, and would like to thank in advance whoever accept's this debate.

My claim is that history is condemned to repeat itself and I'll show you why. To start, we will not take global warming as a factor and presume for the next thousand years or so that the world won't be faced with threats of extinction.

My first point is that all you need to do is look at a history book about Europe to see the pattern. In the early years after the ice age, we had small, dispersed clan settlements. These were soon conquered, or simply emerged after time. Then great empires such as the Egyptian, Greek and Roman emerged and engulfed huge land amounts for their time. However, law and order was at unrest, and soon these empires in Europe buckled, like Rome, and split into smaller and smaller states.

In the dark and middle ages, smaller states fought for land. Even Dukes and other Aristocracy had to be paid by the King of the land to fight for him. However, soon Large empires grew again in the colonial era. Britain, France, Portugal, Spain and others acquired colonies ranging from the 13 states in America to the coasts of Africa to the trade-rich India. However, the people grew tired of Kings and overthrew them. The same happened in foreign colonies as they overthrew the foreign power ruling them and became independent.

After WW1, Large empires in Europe like Prussia and austria-hungary disappeared and were divided into smaller states. Just look at the Balkans today. Kosovo declared itself independent on top of all the other small states like Croatia and Albania. Soon enough, superpowers may re-emerge and take over the progressivley smaller and smaller states. Its obvious history will repeat itself with small empires - large empires - small empires, etc.

My second point is that whilse people die, ideologies don't. Hitler may die, but Nationalism and Fascism are still around and popular in the old Comm. bloc countries. As long as theres an ideology, it can happen. Theres nothing to stop the U.S. from electing a dictator to office, nor russia.


I thank my opponent for this opportunity.

My opponent's resolution is that history is condemned to repeat itself. He is seeking to prove that there exist some sort of cycle and that this cycle must repeat. I do not contend that it is impossible for certain types of historical events to arise again. However, I oppose any suggestion that history must repeat itself or that any such cycles as those contended do in fact exist. My opponent's analysis of history as cyclical is incorrect. History is linear and not cyclical. There is no law, no principle and no force that could drive history to repeat itself in any cyclical manner.

History is not condemned to repeat itself.

Essentially, most of my opponent's claims are, to an extent, true. His account is, however, an extremely over-simplified version of History, picking only very few events and completely ignoring their causes and how they fit into the fabric of history.

While empires have risen and fallen, there is no reason to suggest that this is part of any large-small-large-small empire cycle. There is no reason to suggest that this will continue. History is not an exact science where forensic observation under laboratory conditions could lead to any conclusions about future behaviour.

My opponent is ignoring the fact that the course of our history is progressive one. Humanity has over time attained higher levels of civilisation, science and law. This is why monarchy has been largely traded in for various types of democracy. Even today, most monarchies are democratic ones with a fairly symbolic head of state. This is not a pattern that has been oscillating between democracy and authocracy. To the contrary, there has been a progressive tendency of the world's political systems to move towards a more democratic distribution of power. While it is true that we have had a period commonly referred to as the "Dark Ages", there is no evidence to suggest that such a period is ever likely to repeat itself.

Nations of today have established an elaborate system of international law, making it virtually impossible for a large empire to form. Any attempt by a state to engage in a conquest would arguably meet with international sanctions, followed by possible military action aimed at bringing the situation under control. In recent times, this can be seen in Kosovo or Kuwait (Desert Storm).

It may be true that ideologies do not die. However, my opponent is incorrect in claiming that fascism is popular the fomer communist bloc. Not that this is in any substantial way relevant to the debate.

My opponent repeatedly says that certain things "may happen". Well, they may! Things may happen. Or they may not happen. Whether they do or not is a matter of the particular circumstances at the relevant time. Simply put, there is no way of saying what will or will not happen. One cannot possibly conclude that history is condemned to repeat itself simply because we've had some ancient empires followed by the Dark Ages. Let's also remember that even during the times of the large empires, smaller empires have existed in other parts of the world. There is no cycle, there is no rule, there is no reason to suggest that history is condemned to repeat itself.
Debate Round No. 1


I would liek to thank Lightkeeper for accepting this debate, and look forward to a good 'un.

Yes, I skimmed over history and didn't go into detail, but I was giving an account of a history of power,control and ,essentially, politics in the history of Europe.

I agree that our history has progress and it shows. Humanity has been considered more sacred and special than it used to be. You say that the U.N. is in place and is ready to stop a powerful nation arising. This is true. It happened in Desert storm, Korea and the Balkans. But that's assuming the U.N. stays in place. With human's beoming increasingly desperate, countries like North Korea, China, parts of South America, Russia, Iran and others. This could lead to the rise of a large Chinese and Russian empires.

Another possibility is space empires. It's not a too distant dream of space colonies on the moon or mars. This would lead to larger empires that (like in colonial era) broke off and formed independent nations. This would continue the large-small-large-small empire cycle I talked about.

Yes, Fascism isn't popular in old comm bloc countries. I was refrencing to Romania, where a far right group has emerged in places. But I feel that it is relevant to the debate. Part of my claim is that empires won't die because people will think that a dictatorship would work best for a nation.

You're argument is basically that anything can happen. This neither proves or disproves my claim. Because you are saying whilse my idea may not happen it could. You say 'One cannot possibly conclude that history is condemned to repeat itself simply because we've had some ancient empires followed by the Dark Ages'. I said we had more than ancient empires. We had a period of small clan-like settlements, followed by larger empires, followed by smaller kingdoms, followed by large colonial empires, followed by our present day smaller nations. Yes, during those times there were smaller empires, but in other parts of the undiscovered world.

To conclude, you're argument is based on sheer probability, which doesn't count out my theory. History doesn't have a rule to it, it plays itself out with every human action. But there is a trend showing, and distractions like war and recession can't be counted as something that will halt this, thse are things that fuel it. i look forward to you're next argument.


I thank my opponent for his round 2.

My opponent contends that I have conceded that things "could happen" and therefore I am not countering his argument. However, let us look at his Resolution again.

"History is condemned to repeat itself". What does "condemned" mean? Does it mean "able"? No, it does not. The resolution stipulates that history MUST repeat itself, that there is no other way.

Of course in a general sense some aspects of history may and some will repeat themselves. The sun rose yesterday (history) and most likely will tomorrow. In fact, given the assumptions of this debate, it CERTAINLY will rise tomorrow. Thus, history will repeat itself.

But my opponent's argument is not "some aspects of history will repeat themselves". His argument is specific. He claims that there is a trend of small empires - large empires - small empires - large empires etc. He claims this trend will continue. I say that we've had the situation once or twice and that there is no reason to ever suggest that it indeed is a trend per se. It's simply a coincidence that my opponent has noticed and attempts to describe as a trend. For example, imagine that 10 days in a row there is a car accident in your street, right outside house number 35. My opponent's logic would have you believe that this means that there will be a car accident at 35 YourStreet on day 11. Trite to say, that would be a fallacy.

Let us also not forget that throughout this whole time when my opponent claims a rotation of empires, at least one empire existed. I am here referring to the Ottoman Empire which was in existence from the 1200's until its decline in the 1800's, thus smoothly merging with the times of western colonisation.
The empire's borders varied throughout that time, at one stage reaching as far out as Vienna.

My other point is that there were always reasons for the way things happened. For example, western colonisation (notably the British empire is the best example of this) happened due to the "discovery" of the New World.

In today's world we have well established borders, most recognised by international law. Of course, I can't guarantee that the UN will always exist. But it is highly unlikely that, particularly after WWII's experience, humanity will allow any one nation to go on a vast spree of conquest.

Can China start conquering the nations around it? Highly unlikely. Can Russia? Extremely unlikely, particularly given its economic state (disastrous). But even if such a possibility exists, that does not in any way prove my opponent's resolution that there is a trend or that such a trend (even if existent) will continue.

In conclusion, there is no trend of small-large-small-large empires. Even if there were such a trend, it would be nothing other than a coincidence, much like the car accidents at 35 YourStreet. There is no substance in a proposition that history is condemned to repeat itself.
Debate Round No. 2


Well, were on the last round. I would like to thank my opponent for an interesting debate.

In my opponents last argument. he attacked my claim that history will repeat itself. In your example of the car crash, you claim that if there were to be 10 car crashes in a row on your road, that I claim there would be one on the 11th day. However, in the situation of large-small empire trends I have more evidence. Just look at the U.S. It consists of 50 states. At one point, half the states broke off and fought the civil war that the North one, but it's an example that even a country can divide over an ideology such as slavery. What's stopping the south breaking off from the north again? California has the 7th largest economy in the world so surely it could exist independintly?

In the car crash scenario, in a spontaneus moment in a year of 365 days, in 10 of those days occured the crashes. Under my logic, I'm not saying that there will or won't be crashes in the following days. But theres evidence there to support that there would be 10 carcrashes in the next 365 days of the next year.

My opponent stated the Ottoman empire existed when I claimed there were no empires, in the time of the 1200's. However, he has not even researched his own evidence. The Empire started in the 1300's, not 1200's. Also, look at the map closely You see that it's land that is shaded yelow, red and pink was the so called 'empire' until the 1450's. The expanded in to europe before the 1500's began, but by the time colonial powers began building up colonial empires, only then did they have their large expansions. But the part you overlooked is that after WW1, they broke down into smaller states, with Greece claiming independence even earlier than that.

Yes, there are resons for the way things happen. The huge colonial expansion was the discovery of the new world. But let's not leave out large space empires as I mentioned. You'll probably come back and say the U.N. will intervene and draw up sizeable land borders, but this happened in colonial era's aswell. There was the Treat of Tordesilla's, which divided south america in half. Aswell as that, like the way only countries with a strong navy in colonial era's could gain colonies, only countries equipped with the ability to go into space can get colonies. These are Russia, U.S., China and possibly the EU.

There are internationally recognized border's, in the rich world. China has numerous border conflicts with countries such as India and Pakistan, aswell as claiming sovergnity over Taiwan. There are times where national bodies will fiddle their thumbs. In the congo crisis, the EU stood by whilse the rebels fought against the government and some UN troops. But in Korea, it was not only proved that the U.N. can raise up an army to deal with an attacker, but that China can challenge the U.N. in a war, not even when it was as strong as it was today. Let's not forget the Russian onvasion of Georgia, where evn NATO stood by in fear of an all out war.

You say that Russia has a disastrious economy and that it can't build an army to take over the world. But, I have 2 points on this - 1. As oil and gas becomes scarcer, russia has plenty of this and could get HUGE profits off this, upgrading a whole army if wanted. 2. Didn't germany have an extremely poor economy before the Nazi's seized control and gave it the ability to conquer all of Europe and the world if they wanted.

To conclude my arguments, you must look at it logically. Whereas a single country may not arise and take over the world, remember that within the next 300 or so years, huge colonial space empires have the power to be established.
My opponent's arguments that this is coincidental may be valid, but there is a whole angle of this that is space and not just our own planet. If we colonized our solar sytem, we would start colonising other solar systems, until we've colonised most of our galaxy. This will happen in the thousands of years later as long as we aren't faced with exticncion. My opponent's argument does not count out my argument, and hasn't presented solid proof that this trend cannot occur, and is basing his argument on complete chance.


I thank my opponent for this debate.

My opponent is correct that a country can divide itself up into smaller countries. This, however, does not support his small-large-small-large empire trend argument. There's nothing to stop the south of the USA from the north. Except for a Constitution, of course. However, I concede that a legal document would of course not stop military action. I would like to point out that the fact that there might one day be a civil war in the USA followed by a secession of a number of states does not in any way support a contention that a trend exists or that a trend will continue to exist such as that described by my opponent's Resolution and R1.

The car scenario is perfect. You see, car crashes have their causes. On Day 1 it might be drink-driving. On Day 2 a heart attack behind the wheel. On Day 3 mechanical failure and so forth. Each independent car crash has its own independent cause. Coincidentally they happen in 10 consecutive days. However, they do not present a trend that can be relied on to continue into the future. Similarly, there have been empires, small and large. Each arose as a result of a course of events. Each of these courses of events had its own circumstances. No doubt they were to an extent interrelated. However, to say that there is some magical force out there that will cause our world to oscillate between eras of small empires and eras of large empires, is fallacious. There is no evidence for it and my opponent has not even attempted to point to any. All he seeks to rely on is the fact that it has happened twice.

My opponent is correct that the Ottoman Empire had borders that changed over time. He attempts to claim, however, that the yellow version on the map does not represent a large empire. Let's see....Athens (today's Greece) on the West, Sophia (today's Bulgaria) in the middle, the Hungarian borders to the North, Syria to the East. While not nearly as large as it was in its heyday (the 1500's), this still makes for a large empire by any standards!

My opponent's science fiction fantasy of space colonisation is interesting and certainly appeals to the imagination. But it's just that; a science fiction fantasy. Any space colonisation effort is likely to be a joint international venture and not some type of imperialistic conquest. In fact, I would challenge my opponent's suggestion that Russia or China are economically strong enough to colonise space. The US may be. The EU definitely is. However, the EU is an organisation of many nations and such colonisation could not be called an empire. International effort, yes. Empire, no.

Border skirmishes are nothing new to us. They have always occurred and probably always will. Does that in any way corroborate the idea that history will repeat itself and we will have times of large empires followed by times of small empires followed by times of large empires? Of course not.

Yes, economies can change, countries can build armies. Does this prove that history is condemned to repeat itself? Does it prove that there is some magic trend of times of small-large-small-large empires? It does not.

I now move to the most important part of the debate. My opponent says this:

"My opponent's argument does not count out my argument, and hasn't presented solid proof that this trend cannot occur, and is basing his argument on complete chance."

With all due respect, it appears that my opponent is reading this debate back to front. It is HE who is basing an argument on complete chance. He says that his resolution is proven because I have failed to prove that what he suggests is impossible. I have never even set out to prove that it is impossible. Of course it is possible. Just like the 11th crash at 35 YourStreet. But does that possibility have the effect that History is CONDEMNED to repeat? Does it support the argument that there is no other way but for humanity to experience alternating times of large empires and small empires? I think not. You see, it was my opponent who made a definitive claim. He said history is CONDEMNED to repeat. This is where all of his arguments about mere possibilities of one country or another dividing up or conquering a country next door are of no assistance to him whatsoever. CONDEMNED is more than a possibility. CONDEMNED is a necessity. My opponent has said nothing, NOT A SINGLE THING, to substantiate a claim that history MUST repeat itself by way of alternating eras of small and large empires.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a difficult debate on one view. That is because we are speculating about what can/cannot/must/may not happen in the future. I contend that for my opponent's resolution and argument to stand up, he would need to produce solid evidence that some mechanism exists that would cause humanity to be on a course of alternating eras of small and large empires. He has done no such thing. Things may happen. But they may not.

I urge you to vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 7 years ago
Yeah, infact during the dark ages, ireland had what we called the our 'golden age' as our monasteries were growing and we were having a general good time. We even wrote the Book of kells, a beautiful and great piece of religious history.
Posted by JBlake 7 years ago
Oh, sorry. I can't help myself when I see history butchered so badly (i.e. Pro's R1).
Posted by Lightkeeper 7 years ago

Oh man...You shouldn't have. Now I can't use it. But I will stil use the Ottoman empire... In the current round. And was going to even before your comment :)
Posted by JBlake 7 years ago
I only mention this because it is clear that both sides were not going to bring this up, since they both accepted the 'Dark Ages' as worldwide.
Posted by JBlake 7 years ago
The 'Dark Ages' were not dark for the entire world, only from a western standpoint. The Mongolian Empire was spreading rapidly in the east, and the Ottoman Empire was a world power operating out of the Middle East. Sorry.
Posted by Lightkeeper 7 years ago
That's right. We're proceeding on the basis of no comet strikes, nuclear holocausts, Jesuses or any other disasters :)
Posted by I-am-a-panda 7 years ago
Thats what I do like to see, the third way, sometimes known as the lesser of two evils. But not a valid argument. I said that there will be no threats of extinction (The coming of a second Jesus would signafy the revelation) and that life would be normal.
Posted by ragebuy 7 years ago
Listen and listen carefully Jesus is coming it is almost time for it to happen the world has changed and will keep getting worse that is your explination
Posted by JBlake 7 years ago
This could be an interesting debate. I look forward to see how it progresses.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by jaipelai 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by JBlake 7 years ago
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