Peterloo 1819. Destroyers on the Mersey and tanks in Glasgow 1919. In 2019? | David Olusoga

Is revolution in the air? With dark mutterings of betrayal and warnings of catastrophe it is not too far-fetched to see a pattern

Humans are pattern-seeking animals, consciously and subconsciously imposing designs and theories on to past events. We do this in both our private lives and when looking at history. That tendency is as old as the study of history itself. This is what leads the rulers of empires, including those of the modern United States (the empire that will not speak its name), to look to Rome to spot the portents of their own decline and fall.

Many historians will tell you that there are no laws of history and no great cycles that govern human events. History often appears more random than rhythmic. But if not patterns or cycles, there are certainly coincidences and some are so marked that they are hard not to notice. Currently, the odds on one of the most striking coincidences in British history being repeated stand at 60-40, at least according to the secretary of state for international trade and president of the board of trade, the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP.

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