History Strikes Back

Shlomo Ben-Ami*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is an explication of our immediate times in plainly historical terms; an underwriting, as it were, of the idea of the present as part of the historian’s craft and mission. The West’s victorious end of the Cold War was seen by many as a defining ideological triumph that heralded the coming of a post-historical era, in which wars and sanguinary revolutions would be a thing of the past. But it did not take too long for the ‘end of the end of history’ to be apparent in both the geostrategic sphere and the political-cultural realm. The new prevailing notion that the emerging Huntingtonian reality would be mostly confined to asymmetric wars between states and terrorist insurgencies in faraway lands was belied by America’s regime-change wars in the Middle East, and now by Russia’s war on Ukraine. The latter has shattered Europe’s fantasy about a post-historical world where military power does not matter, nationalism can be tamed by subsidies, world leaders are law-abiding gentlemen, and the continent’s security can safely be outsourced to America’s power. Rearmament and military alliances are again the order of the day in Europe, as is the division of the continent between East and West. In Europe and beyond, geopolitics have again prevailed over economic calculations. History strikes back on all fronts, and our understanding of current crises–deglobalization, the competition between the US and China, Russia’s aggressive revisionism, capitalism’s 2008 crisis, the rise of populism, and Brexit’s essay in imperial nostalgia–would greatly benefit from the invocation of relevant historical analogies. But the determinist assumption that ‘analogies (are) the key to understanding our future’ (Oswald Spengler) is stretching the concept into the realm of prophecy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-87
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Holocaust Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • Brexit
  • Cold War victory
  • Ukraine war
  • end of history
  • globalization
  • regime change


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