MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Why We Need True History and Good Historians

Posted by M. C. on October 20, 2022

https://mises.org/wire/why-we-need-true-history-and-good-historians

Ryan McMaken

[This article is adapted from the introduction to the Historical Revisionism panel at the 2022 Supporters Summit at the Arizona Biltmore.]

In his novel 1984, George Orwell noted the role of the regime in controlling information about the past. After being “re-educated” by the ruling party, the protagonist Winston Smith dutifully recited the party’s wisdom regarding the fact that “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

In other words, the ruling party in the world of 1984 understood that controlling historical narratives is key in influencing the public’s ideological views.

This is difficult to deny.

Speaking on the Industrial Revolution, historian Ralph Raico noted the importance of history in winning ideological and political battles. According to Raico:

It’s a curious fact that of all the disciplines, it seems that history more than philosophy or economics determines people’s political views. We might consider this unfair. We might think that economics has more to say about what people should think about competition and antitrust, philosophy has more to say about what people should think about natural rights. But in fact, most often it seems that its history—or interpretations of history—that will influence the positions that people take.

Some people, of course, will insist that the most important means of convincing people to one position or another involves rigorous logical arguments. This approach no doubt is of special importance to some, and sound economic and philosophical thinking is certainly important when it comes to interpreting and explaining events.

But for most people, it seems—as Raico notes—historical narratives have had an outsized role in influencing and setting ideological views.

We can easily see this by noting several examples.

Among the most important historical narratives that affect people’s ideological views are views of the Industrial Revolution.

Myth as History

See the rest here

Be seeing you

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