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Response to formercia (Original post)

Sat Aug 17, 2013, 02:48 PM

5. The view of those seeking weapons.

Most versions of history are part-true; those that aren't part-true by virtue of limitations of narrative are part-true by ignorance of facts. It's easy to have a story of Mohenjo Daro that accounts for all the facts because we have so few. It's easy to have a story of Mount Vernon that is "true" but accounts for only a few facts.

The most common lie comes in asserting that only one interpretion is true or that to compose a true story you must exclude facts. Of necessity, in schools only one interpretation is commonly taught. This is due to lack of time, lack of knowledge on the part of the teacher, and a lack of facts on the part of the students. If they try to find an alternative history, they typically assume that *it* is true and fail to account for yet another large set of facts. Thus the alternative becomes a lie.

The best history includes numerous stories so that all the known facts are knitted together in a way that makes sense from the perspective of the people at the time. To exclude a fact as inappropriate, to impose perspectives that were unobtainable at the time, to emphasize just one story to the exclusion of other possible stories, makes your history part-true.

A further lie, one that is usually implicit, is to impose a narrative from some set of historical facts on the present. They're useful for telling us how we got to where we are, but even then they're usually part-true. These part-true narratives are poor fits at best, but fill in all the gaps in our current knowledge and allow us to come to the proper predetermined judgment. Since most people aren't adept at recognizing the poor fit or the way our judgment is biased for them, they are weapons--weapons for gaining power by manipulating others.

So the best history includes numerous narratives to knit all the known facts together in a historical perspective. It's a profoundly anti-Soviet viewpoint, and it's why I have it. I've read too many texts in which a single view of history is promulgated as the only true view in order to advance the "progressive" and "democratic" policies currently in vogue. History as a weapon. Evil, that.

One of the best grad courses I ever took was a language course. Each of the students took a historian as his text. Each week we'd ID an event or situation and then we'd each become experts on our historian's interpretation. (When the events post-dated a historian's work, we'd find a more recent historian.) It was truly enlightening, the warping of history to justify either the academic's or the government's view. Sometimes we even had enough information to figure out what probably actually happened--the motives of each person involved, a fuller order of events, what each person actually achieved. But for that we had to have enough information and also be humble, attempting to empathize with all the figures involved.

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Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
formercia Aug 2013 OP
bemildred Aug 2013 #1
ConcernedCanuk Aug 2013 #2
bemildred Aug 2013 #3
90-percent Aug 2013 #4
LineNew Reply The view of those seeking weapons.
Igel Aug 2013 #5
bemildred Aug 2013 #6
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blkmusclmachine Aug 2013 #7
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