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History's Future

One of the assumptions about technical analysis' efficacy is that history tends to repeat itself and, based on historical examples, the future can be anticipated with greater clarity than just hopeful guessing (a skill bulls exhibit with particular panache).

I tripped across an interesting example of this far afield from the world of finances. It has more to do with geopolitics. Check out this quote from a historian made before the cold war ever started and see if, based on what happened, it rings true (I've boldfaced some parts):

Today there are two great peoples on earth who, starting from different points, seem to advance toward the same goal: these are the Russians and the Anglo-Americans. Both grew up in obscurity; and while the attention of men was occupied elsewhere, they suddenly took their place in the first rank of nations, and the world learned of their birth and their greatness nearly at the same time. All other peoples seem to have almost reached the limits drawn by nature, and have nothing more to do except maintain themselves; but these two are growing. All the others have stopped or move ahead only with a thousand efforts; these two alone walk with an easy and rapid stride along a path whose limit cannot yet be seen. The American struggles against obstacles that nature opposes to him; the Russian is grappling with men. The one combats the wilderness and barbarism; the other, civilization clothed in all its arms. Consequently the conquests of the American are made with the farmer’s plow, those of the Russian with the soldier’s sword. To reach his goal the first relies on personal interest, and, without directing them, allows the strength and reason of individuals to operate. The second in a way concentrates all the power of society in one man. The one has as principal means of action liberty; the other, servitude. Their point of departure is different, their paths are varied; nonetheless, each one of them seems called by a secret design of Providence to hold in its hands one day the destinies of half the world.

So when do you think this prediction was made? Perhaps during the mayhem of World War 2, as a scholar looked past the war to anticipate what was ahead?

Nope. The above was written in the 1830s, over a hundred years before World War 2 even began, by Alexis de Tocqueville in "Democracy in America". Pretty astonishing, isn't it? Could you imagine making a sweeping prediction about the world's construct in the year 2120 and being more or less correct? I, for one, am in awe of the foresight required to have speculated with such prescience. Nostradamus had nothing on this guy.