The old axiom is that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat so it is certainly ironic that the father of modern historical determinism, G. W. F. Hegel, should utter the words that put the lie to the idea of a philosophy of history, Rulers, Statesmen, Nations, are wont to be emphatically commended to the teaching which experience offers in history. But what experience and history teach is this – that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it. Each period is involved in such peculiar circumstances, exhibits a condition of things so strictly idiosyncratic, that its conduct must be regulated by considerations connected with itself, and itself alone.
While the social Darwinians will be aghast the truth is prehaps best expressed by David Hume, Mankind are so much the same, in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or strange in this particular. Its chief use is only to discover the constant and universal principles of human nature. What we are learning today is that tyrants will always drop Iron Curtains whether it be across half a continent or over the Ukraine and when we allow them to take the first bite the will take the next – and the next – and in the game of musical chairs that is diplomacy the advocates of freedom will inevitably be the ones left standing. The only error that we can see in Wright’s book is that it treats an iron curtain that was lifted and not in the failure of the west to keep it raised.
Iron curtain : from stage to Cold War Patrick Wright Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2007 Softcover. xvi, 488 p.,  p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. -468) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG
‘From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent…’ With these words Winston Churchill famously warned the world in a now legendary speech given in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946.Launched as an evocative metaphor, the ‘Iron Curtain’ quickly became a brutal reality in the Cold War between Capitalist West and Communist East.
Starting with the original use of “iron curtain” to describe an anti-fire device fitted into theatres, this engaging volume tells the story of how the term evolved into a powerful metaphor that shaped the world for decades before the onset of the Cold War. Along the way, Wright offers fascinating perspectives on a rich array of historical characters and developments, from the lofty aspirations and disappointed fate of early twentieth century internationalists, through the topsy-turvy experiences of the first travelers to Soviet Russia, to the theatricalization of modern politics and international relations. And, as Wright poignantly suggests, the term captures a particular way of thinking about the world that long pre-dates the Cold War – and did not disappear with the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of the Soviet Union. This cultural history illuminates the life and legacy of this powerful metaphor.