History Is Not About The Past

Faulkner said that the past is not dead. It isn't even the past.  He is more right than ever today. Interpretations of facts are always subject to the biases of the interpreter.  This is not new, Julius Caesar's history of the Gauls is less than objective.  In fact his conflict with the Gauls may have had more to do with the gold they possessed than any threat to Rome.  Southern sympathizers have been rewriting the causes of the Civil war since the surrender at Appomattox Court House. So history as propaganda is nothing new.  

What is new is the age we live in allows even greater access to unveted propaganda posing as history.  In political terms, both the left and the right are guilty of this.  This is made worse by the fact that history is taught so poorly here in America that there are no agreed upon baseline facts anymore.  So if you want to paint Fascism as a leftist ideology of big government taking away people's freedom, you can because few are aware of the facts that would refute such an argument.  And if you want to turn a dictator like Fidel Castro into a nationalist hero. you are equally free because there are no rules here on how to evaluate evidence.  So what are we left with?  Two groups pf propagandist talking past each other and trying to present the most persuasive case to public not equipped to judge the veracity of either.

So what is history about.  Orwell said it best:  He who controls the past controls the future. But the lesser known part to that quote is: He who controls the present, controls the past.  This does not make the prospects for democracy great.  It would seem that Benjamin Franklin was correct when said the a well informed public is what protects democracy.  The problem is that giving the public information is the easy part.  Teaching them how to think critically about that information is the hard part.
holloway64 holloway64
46-50, M
4 Responses Jan 17, 2013

It is the Victor who decides what history will say about an event...

...I like you're looking for...

Unfortunately politicians like to manipulate facts to justify whatever they do, as they have for centuries. Control the past and you control the future.

Excellent essay Donald!

It was until I realized that I had to correct that I attributed to Thomas Jefferson. Oh well.