Coffee Hour with Beat

2021 . . . Is History Repeating Itself?


I personally think that if one believes that the world is turning differently in these times and that we can’t learn from history, they are making a mistake.

Is it still relevant today, what caused the downfall of the Roman empire, or can we identify something for today’s society when we analyze what factors led to the French revolution? Winston Churchill warned the house of commons not to think in the short term and to not just pay attention to headlines when he said, “Those who are not able to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”    While that was over 70 years ago, I think it fits the current social media age well.  This philosophy goes back even further, as Churchill borrowed his quote from the Spanish philosopher George Santayana who wrote in his book, “The Life of Reason” that “Somebody who is not remembering his past is condemned to repeat it and paying a high price.”

This analysis is often used to analyze war activities.  An example is the various wars of the different armies against Russia. Sweden learned in the 17th century how difficult it is to win against Russia, how hard the winter is. A century later Napoleon made the same mistake, and in the second World War, history repeated itself when Germany lost almost 1 million troops by trying to take Moscow during the winter.

Often, we are told that history is not anymore so important, because the world is different than it was 100 years ago. But even while new trends are developing, they can often be found rooted in the past, because human nature has not changed.

We often think that this time things will be different, and while events from the past will not be repeated exactly, similarities between the past and present will always exist.

For myself, I believe post-COVID-19, we will experience a new iteration of the “Roaring Twenties.”  One hundred years ago, just ahead of the roaring twenties, was World War 1.  Additionally, 1918 to 2020, the Spanish Flu was infecting about 1/3 of the world’s population.  After those horrific years, people around the globe were hungry to live.  The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of novelty associated with modernity and a break with tradition.  Everything seemed possible through modern technology such as cars, movies, and radio. By the middle of the decade, prosperity was widespread, with the second half of the decade known, as “the Golden Twenties.”

I think 2020 will be that game-changer and COVID-19 will be remembered as a turning point.

COVID-19 has served as an engine of innovation. Under lockdown, e-commerce as a share of American retail sales increased as much in eight weeks as it had in the previous five years.  As people stayed in Avalon Park, almost overnight, businesses began to run from spare rooms and kitchen tables, an experiment that would otherwise have taken years to unfold, if ever.

While this disruption is in its infancy, COVID-19 is proof that change is possible even in conservative industries like energy, education, or health care.

2020 has not only been a turning point for Avalon Park Group, it has been one of our most active years ever.  Ask any of my 7 Senior Vice Presidents (we are working a combined 80! years together), and they all will tell you 2020 has been our busiest year ever!  And it is just the beginning.

While we should always proceed with caution, remember, the Roaring Twenties was also followed by the great depression, I encourage us to take the turn into health and prosperity this year.  I am hopeful the vaccine will succeed; I am optimistic for a great 2021 and beyond.

Wishing You a Happy and Healthy New Year!


Beat Kahli

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