Most of humanity’s earliest stories are designed to explain “where do we come from?” and “How did we get here?”
Whether creation was from the slaying of Tiamat by the hero Marduk, or the more mannered tales of titans and wars with gods of the classic mythologies, stories were told children to explain “How did we get to where we are now?” Because answering that question inevitably answers at least in part “what are we here for?” and “What is the meaning of life.”
The fun part about the top down societal engineering of the 20th century, a think that had never been attempted in that scale in the past (well, not in the west, though there were attempts, like those of Louis XIV and the Marques de Pombal in Portugal and I’m sure others) is that they knew this would have to be answered. Humans like to know where they came from and where they’re going. And the Marxists perfected a way to do this that answered the questions but was worse than no answer. (The Nazis probably did too, but their influence over education didn’t last long enough to educate several generations.)
On the above keep in mind I said “in that scale.” Just about every kind tried to do it, and there was a serious rewrite of history associated with events like Henry VIII’s break from Rome.
None of those attempts were as total or as successful as the 20th century ones, due to several things. The first was that nations hadn’t had their spirits broken as thoroughly as WWI broke them, so people weren’t willing to lend credence to things spouted from on high with that much eagerness, and things leaked through. HOWEVER the most important thing that the twentieth century had in hand to try to remake culture was this: public education, mass media, mass news reporting.
Did it succeed? No. The only result of trying to mold human beings into the utopian version of the man who would live happily under communism was 100 million graves, and an Europe that is dying of senescence and lack of reproduction.
However it succeeded brilliantly in not only separating, now, I suppose two or three generations from their roots, but also convincing them that they are superior to their actual learned ancestors, and somehow, yet, the product of the worst civilization of human history.
Western culture is dying of WWI partly because the “cure” imposed by state education apparatus, corrupted by Soviet agit prop and continued by “intellectuals” who know nothing except that they’re superior to everyone else, more enlightened, kinder, and that they should design society and the world to “improve” it.
The trick to this is not only to give them a fake history. Every tinpot dictator does that. The trick is to give them a fake history starting in kindergarten, that is painted in primary hues and comic-book complexity. There are good guys (the oligarchs who would design society to be more fair) and bad guys (usually capitalists and greedy, they want to “exploit” everyone, which only works if you believe in fixed pie economics and that everyone gets a share at birth, an economic idea so stupid you have to be indoctrinated from birth to believe it.) And everything is explained by “laws” and top down action. Though this history talks about mass movements, and “the people” they don’t actually take THE PEOPLE into account, not with any depth and complexity. The people in this narrative, the entire culture, in fact, is moldable, like butter to the sculpting knife of the powerful.
Societies don’t work that way. Culture doesn’t work that way. In fact culture is so persistent, so stubborn, it leads people to think it’s genetic. (It’s not. A baby taken at birth to another culture will not behave as his culture of origin.) It changes, sure, through invasions and take overs, but so slowly that bits of older cultures and ideas stay embedded in the new culture. It has been noted that the communist rulers of Russia partook a good bit of the tzarist regime, because the culture of the people was the same and that came through. (They just dialed up the atrocities and lowered the functionality because their ideology was dysfunctional. They blame their failure on Russia itself, but considering how communism does around the world, I’ll say to the extent countries survive it’s because of the underlying culture.)
Yesterday the critter in the comments who tried to educate us all in Marxist dialectic which for reasons known only to his psychiatrist he kept calling Aristotelian logic, was a case in point of someone raised on this comic book history.
He said something so bizarrely stupid in one of his early comments that though he read it, my mind refused to absorb it. It wasn’t till my husband laughed aloud and read me what he said that I PROCESSED it.
He said Iberian culture, when it pertains to relations between the sexes, was changed in the 20th century “by Franco and Salazar.”
Keep in mind, this is said by a guy (man is a stretch considering he was raised with a gold spoon in his mouth and then married up, so he has never had to grow up) who was raised in Spain.
I don’t even know what he means by “was changed.” I presume he thinks before that Iberian culture was …. egalitarian? Matriarchal? I’m sure he was taught some nonsense like that.
The thing is…. how can he believe that?
I grew up reading books written by Portuguese authors in the eighteenth and nineteenth century (some Spanish authors, too. I mean, one has to read.) I had a good relationship with my grandparents. I read old family letters. Surely these experiences aren’t blocked to most human beings, right?
The picture those paint is that, yeah, relations between the sexes in the peninsula did change under Salazar and Franco. (No credit to them, though. The change had been in progress for a while.) Women started being treated more like human beings; girls had an age of majority same as boys, and if the police still picked up your unmarried 30 year old daughter for running away from home, it was cultural habit in CONTRAVENTION of the law. Culture changed a bit too. I wasn’t considered a loose woman for looking out the window now and then, which I understand was a problem for my grandmother. Sure, until the seventies married women still needed their husband’s permission to work… I don’t know if that was a new law in the twentieth century, but the culture I saw up close and personal, it didn’t matter, since there wasn’t a chance of a woman working without her father’s/husband’s permission before.
Portugal is a very old culture. Celts and Carthaginians, Greeks and Romans, Germanic tribes, Moors, French and British all influenced it, but in the end enough of the people remain to carry the culture. To the extent that the present dispensation is imposing a narrative from above, and is total enough to push it, what it’s doing is what happens in occupied countries, where the enemy above provides a narrative: killing it. There are o babies being born, certainly not enough to carry the country. The resourceful young people are moving away. If it weren’t for prolonged life spans, the place would be half deserted, because the elite above is trying to control every aspect of the culture.
And they do it, because their initial “why” questions were answered with comic book history and comic book logic, and they bought it. Worse, because they were indoctrinated in this, they have no clue there’s something they don’t know and don’t understand.
They disdain the stories of their grandparents, old books, family letters, because why would they expose themselves to the unenlightened.
And then they try to act, as though the nonsense they were taught was true.
“A generation that doesn’t know history has no past, and no future.” – Robert A. Heinlein.
I’ll add it’s no better for a generation that knows only a fake, simplified, sketch of history.
It might be worse.