Robert A. Heinlein said that a society that doesn’t know history has no past and no future. Of course, we don’t have to listen to that, because Heinlein was after all racist, misogynistic and homophobic. Just ask any college professor or any leftist talking head (but I repeat myself) and they’ll inform you of this. And, if, armed with knowledge of the man’s books and biography and works you dispute this, and they can’t wave it away with “you don’t see the hidden messages” (which is like “you don’t see the invisible demons”) and/or “you’re full of white male privilege,” they will just out and out attack you, and try to shame you as evil AND intellectually deficient because you went so far as to read Heinlein.
I started reading Chinese history late. Mostly because it wasn’t offered in school when I went through (at least not in any course I could choose in my college. I think History Majors might have had some) and I couldn’t find any books on it easily available until the mid nineties, when I joined (and ruined myself on) the History Bookclub. Sometimes it’s hard for people today to understand just how limited our pre-Amazon reading choices were. Both these thing are part of the discussion above, yes.
You see, when I read Chinese history I was amazed at the recurring instances of burning all the books, and the overachieving emperors who went so far as to kill all the story tellers, including grannies telling traditional stories.
Oh, the reason makes perfect sense. We have someone in the comments who spent part of her teen years in the DDR (East Germany) and she’ll tell you that the history they were taught had absolutely zero to do with reality.
In fact all communist countries (and friends tell me most Arab countries) have highly bizarre versions of history.
There are reasons to do this other than totalitarianism. As I have pointed out before, there used to be/still is in healthy countries a highly necessary version of nationalism which is akin to thinking people of your family are the best people ever, in the whole world.
Most normal, average human beings aren’t going to set the world on fire. Most of them don’t even really want to. They just want to live okay lives. They don’t really have any ambitions to stand out or be amazing in anything.
Which means to keep from living lives of “quiet desperation” they need something more. In highly religious times, (and/or countries and places) this is provided by religion. If you are a devout whatever, you know you might not succeed in this world, but there’s a crown/fifty virgins/etc. waiting for you on the other side. I’m not mocking it, or saying it isn’t true, btw. As most of you know I’m a believer, myself. I’m just saying that this helps to keep the crowd at large happy. Which is why the idiot Marxists call it the opium of the people. This is daft. It’s like saying “people need something more to carry them through everyday than just the ability to survive.”
But Marxists are daft. And part of their reason for attacking religion is that they wanted to enshrine the state in its place. This too was daft.
Nationalism was there all along, with religion. As in “our country is better than all the other countries.” It too gave people who otherwise had no reason to behave better than their instincts/no pride a reason to look up and imagine themselves part of a greater whole. Whether you’re more motivated by one or the other would depend on your personality, I guess.
Part of the neuroticism of current day is the changing or twisting of national histories is done in one direction only: it’s done to make the west ashamed/feel guilty of its history; and to make everyone else think the west owes them.
It is the latest phase of a propaganda attack that started with the USSR wanting its Imperial philosophy to be MISTAKEN for international communism. The only way to do that was to erase/twist all national narratives so no one but Russia were clean/great. (And Russia only after the creation of the USSR.)
Why? Well, because the only way that communism can survive is by pillaging. But that’s not important right now.
The attacks used to be indirect/sideways, as in not telling people the whole story or strongly implying something else. As a foreigner, for instance, I was shocked when I discovered America didn’t go to Vietnam under a Republican, that JFK was MOST CERTAINLY not about to stop the war when he died, that the Republicans were the ones pushing for the end of segregation and for civil rights, etc.
It’s not that I was taught lies in history. It was just the teacher teaching the general narrative, and then throwing us to the arms of the media that echoed it.
My history book in the US didn’t mention party affiliations, and had bullshit like a chapter on how the American Dream was dead, if in fact it had ever existed.
By the time older son entered high school (and in the US) the lies were more blatant. It implied stuff like all wealth came from natural resources and the only reason we were richer than other countries was colonialism.
There was a weekend I spent giving the boy reading material and foaming at the mouth.
Three years later, when younger son hit the same material, it was yet more overtly anti-west and basically blamed all the evil in the world on capitalism and white people. This occasioned months or ranting, throwing books against the wall, and mandatory reading and essays for son. (Who till hasn’t forgiven me for making him do graduate level primary source reading at 12.)
Now the combination of two techniques teaches the kids crazy sh*t such as that Hitler built the Berlin wall to keep out the Jews. Sure, some kids are stupid, but these are not the stupid kids coming up with this.
Along the way, sometime in the 80s, the left realized that the fact that books set in times whose history they were distorting sometimes told the truth. And they came up with the most “beautiful” technique for killing historical knowledge of any totalitarian strand of thought EVER. They couldn’t burn books. There were enough people around who’d sound the alarm on that. They couldn’t forbid books, because this is the US and there would be more people screaming than you could silence.
Instead they used their unprecedented command of story and ability to disseminate it. Authors, ideas, entire times of history became so “problematic” that even reading them/about them made you a bad thinker and to be shamed and shunned.
Because the left follows shaming and shunning with very real world consequences, such as hounding you out of the ability to earn a living or physical attacks on your kids, not to mention sabotaging your career in any field they control, it became socially unacceptable to contradict the open narrative. Which is how Heinlein — poor man, who was self-consciously inclusive and who, frankly, had a highly romanticized view of women — became stigmatized as racist/sexist/homophobic.
It’s also how we get the toppling of statues (including some statues of abolitionists, but they’re in uniform, so…) and hissy fits about lectures on local history, buildings named after past heroes, etc.
If there were good people in the past, then not everything about the west is horrible, and the SJW narrative falls apart. The same, btw, if there were very bad people and nations who were not in any way Western nor even vaguely white. (And there were.)
This is why Columbus day must be eradicated, because otherwise you might find your opinions and the ill informed crap you were taught disputed by your relatives. You have to make it so offensive that the older relatives don’t dare talk to you.
And many millenials claim to be socialists, but they think socialism is any collective endeavor, including roads and schools. Which would surprise the hell out of most Romans, not to mention American colonials.
But that’s part of it. The insanity has ramped up, not because it’s successful. And the tearing down of statues and local pictures is not the work of an ideology that’s winning. Nor is the ubiquitous “setting me straight on misinformation is an attack, and you’re violent.”
These are all crazy efforts at protecting what they thought they’d solidly won, until the internet fractured the mass-media power to keep the narrative going. Sooner or later real history will trickle into even the densest, most indoctrinated skull. (Okay, maybe not. Occasional Cortex is paid for her stupidity.) And this terrifies the left.
As does the fact they have to have started realizing while the mass of people faked compliance even when their power was absolute, there was a not inconsiderable number of us thinking forbidden thoughts and reading forbidden books. And there must be some more now. And they don’t know where. (This, btw, feeds the paranoia and cannibal feasts.)
I’m afraid they’re going to get crazier the more power they lose. Beware the wounded bear.
By which I mean “let’s make them crazier.”
Tell the truth and shame the devil. Be not afraid.