I’ve always had an interest in the history of history.
For one, that historians are even remotely interested in the lives of ordinary people is a relatively modern notion. 3000 years ago, even 600 years ago, the historian was that 1 in 10,000 person who could read and write and could therefore earn a living wage by writing nice things about the king. There was really very little else for him to do. There were only kings in those days, it was the only system in town, and the goings and comings of the kings, especially their heroic comings, was the primary purpose of the position of historian being created in the first place.
In the beginning it wasn’t even the benefit of their countrymen those histories were written. The Egyptians were more interested in telling occupants in the afterlife about the exploits of their king, so historians not only had to be adept at papyrus-writing, but the hammer-and-chisel work of telling pharaoh’s story on stone that would immediately be buried for a few thousand years.
Still, it was better work than wading knee-deep in mud plugging wheat during the Nile floods. Learning to read and write probably arose from the commerce and accounting wing of the royal cadre, skills that would only be needed inside the royal establishment. And there it would remain for over 4500 years.
But 4500 years later the world would still be essentially the same, of many kings who owned a bunch of territory, adjoined to other kings who owned other territory, which, from time to time they gained or lost from each other by war or marriage. They would have their retinues, their court, their castle staff, a churchman in attendance, their police department, while just outside the castle walls the other 90% would continue to plant and harvest on the proviso they’d be allowed to keep just enough that they’d be healthy enough to do it all over again the next growing season. North Korea is still that way today.
Historians would have an almost five-millennia relationship with kings before they would ever look out the window and think about more esoteric subjects to write about. Their principal mission in life was to mention their lords favorably.
It was not until the Enlightenment, early 18th Century, that historians began concerning themselves with the social histories of the common people. The English were more adept at popularizing these with the people, even into fiction, in part because they were at least a century ahead of the Continent in creating a middle class who could read and had an interest in it.
This giant leap began with the protections and liberties extended to commoners at Runnymede (1215). The Magna Carta.
Some could say that the greatest running commentary of social history anywhere is found in the English Common Law, which arose from John’s signature at Runnymede, for what the English king had conceded that no other king or form of absolute government has ever wanted to concede, is the power of the people in a court of a single jurisdiction to affect outcomes that shaped social development in areas as diverse as ownership of property, torts, personal injury and redress of grievances and their rights and protections vis a vis one another, and the Crown.
It would be historians-not-on-the-kings’-payroll who would chronicle how this little bit of royal acquiescence in 1215 would evolve into a Parliament, at first subsidiary, then co-equal to, and finally independent of a king.
America was in its earliest days of settlement, my first forebear (there was only one) just barely off the boat, while the power and authority of who would be boss in England, King or Parliament, was still in doubt. Not as an historian but as a social observer I think the English Common Law did a much better job in shaping the new American constitutional system that would be born a century and a half later.
I’m not sure George Will would agree, and maybe some latter-day National Review and Weekly Standard giants would only say “Whut?”, but when I was in law school in the late 60s the Common Law was still taught as the foundation of civil jurisprudence in America, while the coming era of statutory supremacy, argued by some as a much finer tonic for peoples’ needs, was soberly argued by older lawyers who remembered the New Deal, with warnings that a top-down, bureaucratic approach to civil law would eventually “erase” all memory of it and its cultural roots.
Looking in our rearview mirrors today, we have a better look of what we’ve lost, but also a better understanding of just how advanced and farsighted leftist social planning has been, going far back into the 30’s with a replacement legal ideology that would take three generations to bear fruit…
…With the knowledge that the Constitution was written with the specific purpose of empowering men and women of ordinary good sense to be in charge of their personal lives, (life, liberty, property) as well as the shape and manner of their government…
What we didn’t know is just how many people purportedly on our side of this liberty equation really don’t believe it anymore…unless it bears their imprimatur and approval. The approval of the people has slowly been removed from their equation.
Maybe they just didn’t know what the real plan for the Left is? That has never been more clear than now.
We now know that the Left wants to destroy our system because of the Good it has done and can do. They want it stopped. They “hate the Good because it is Good” (Ayn Rand, 1971). We also now know, from out of their own mouths, that the Left does not intend to allow, and never intended to allow, the ordinary people of America to live anything other than a servile existence, just as in the Age of Kings.
What we know today that we did not know just a few short years ago, before the emergence of Donald Trump, was how much this definition of “royal ambition” fit within not just the psychology of the Left, but the hopes and dreams of many on the right, which only goes to reveal the secret supplications of their own hearts. As I witnessed with the liberals of the 60s, it was really easy to forsake the cause of the Negro once they had secured their positions as members of the management wing of the Great Society. The appearance of trying to help move blacks forward was far more profitable than actually helping them move
They did not define themselves by the nobility of their thoughts but rather by the distance between themselves and their lessers, people they did not want to be confused with in any social circumstance.
Freud probably had a name for this psychological substitution, but it stood out in my generation, and stands out like a sore thumb today all because we selected a leader who did not retain a spot for them in the national boardroom. And the citizens who put him there, had always been there, suddenly became rubes and hicks.
They ain’t dining on hot dogs and potato salad for nobody.
All this means is that they too have a mutual interest with the Left in seeing history rewritten. Only they are blinded to the fact that the only way they will be able to return to national prominence will be at the sufferance of the Left. As stooges. We will never see the pre-2016 political world ever again.
As for the rest of us, since we are hurtling toward that crucible, that showdown of immense proportions, we’ll just have to consider them among the soldiers of the Enemy, and let the rolled-up newspapers fall where they may.
About the Featured Image:
I found this in a shop in Bulgaria, it’s gypsum, with all sorts of chips and flakes. Old, I thought it might be a tsar, perhaps Alexander II, who helped free Bulgaria from Turkish rule in 1876. No one in Bulgaria knew who he was but also guessed the Tsar.
I made an online inquiry and a European historian wrote to say this was a little known White general from the Russian Civil War, who disappeared from Russia in 1921, and then from history in 1930.
His name was Alexander Pavelovich Kutepov. He commanded White units against the Reds (Bolsheviks) in the Russian Civil War that followed the Bolshevik coup, his last command at Gallipoli. In 1921 he escaped to Bulgaria, where this piece was found, so it id one-of-a-kind. He left Bulgaria in 1922 because of anti-Russian turmoil, then to Belgrade, and onto Paris, to take over command of White armies in Exile, until 1930 when he was kidnapped by agents of OGPU.
Some say he died in Paris, others that he was transported back to Moscow. No one knows.
He simply fell from history in the world he had escaped to, and erased from the country he had fled.
Hold that thought.
Of all the people in the Soviet Union alive when it collapsed in 1992, not one could trace his or her family past 1918…unless their great grandparents had hidden away in family Bibles a lineage of that family…while holding onto such treasures as a family Bible, crucifix or ikon, were forbidden by law, possibly earning a trip to the Gulag, where, indeed, millions were erased from history.
(This same was true in Eastern Europe when the USSR swallowed them up in 1945-48, only the penalties were less harsh and in 1992, when communism collapsed, there was still a living memory of how it once was. I recall in the early 90s visiting recently re-opened Orthodox churches in the Balkans where great grandmothers taught their great grandchildren how to cross themselves and genuflect…because neither their children, nor grandchildren, had ever been inside an Orthodox church or witnessed a service. Another twenty years and the communists may have been able to erase east European history as well. Think of that the next time you see a Polish president shake hands with ours.)
Erasing history is easy if you set it as a priority, and Marxist professors set this as a priority in the American academy as early as the 1960s. You have one group of profs who teach a totally different reality, while others, such as Howard Zinn, (now dead) write texts that teach a totally different version of history, then simply slowly remove books, from elementary grades and up, and replace them as the generations shift.
So if you think our Constitution, or your heroes, from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to Neil Armstrong, are safe, you have another think coming.
Neil Armstrong’s Moon Walk was on July 20, 1969, so will have it’s 50th Anniversary next month. It should be a big celebration, almost as big as our recent D-Day events. Still, watch social media and several leftwing blogs that will have some smarmy comments about it, not to mention a lot of fake facts.
Also understand, that almost no college students today even know who Neil Armstrong was, or that our walking on the moon was even such a big deal. Blame high school and college history teachers. Much like D-Day, a whole generation will be unaware except for a very few. The average public library and school library will contain a tenth or less of the books about the Space program or even World War II, as they did in 1970.
Although they were much in the news cycles. Korea, Vietnam and Iraq wars had few popular histories written about them. And few of the Hollywood presentations were pro-American policy. The same with the Middle East conflicts, although the American people took it upon themselves to support the Gulf War in 1991-92 if for no other reason than the mean way American troops were treated in Vietnam.
Pity the poor 12-year old browsing the stacks just looking for an interesting history title with real heroes.
But as long as anyone who was over the age of 15-16 in 1969 is still alive, there will be some public pause and praise for what was America’s One Big Thing for that generation. Besides, the Left has a half-dozen fake American Bad Things to offset it.
What happens next will depend on who wins this current culture war, which of course, is tied to the political war…but only by one hand. The Left looks at history as a malleable thing which can be changed to suit the political needs of the time. And so far their strategy has worked. While out of power they can simply say the Apollo program was a tax theft from taxpayers, appeasing several of their alliance, although I personally think, as Stalin did, if ever back in power, they will no longer have to lie the liar’s mouth to keep favor with most of these groups.
In the end totalitarians always take off the velvet gloves and put on the iron fist.
You didn’t see the French nobility send out mediators to quell the various uprisings of the Jacquerie (their serf-class). They ran them down like dogs, and with nary an apology to the Church. It would have been the same with our English overlords in 1778-1782, but for the fact our “serfs” were armed, and much better read than even George Will imagines. (Thank Thomas Paine, a pamphleteer.)
The American Left “plans History” according to the passing of the generations, much like they do elections. My generation accounts for 30% of the voter base today, and a source of worry because of the influence we may exert on our children, but in 20 more years they will have new plans for our children and grandchildren.
Until the rise of the common man in 2016, they felt they could afford to wait for the generational replacements, which they’ve been incubating in the public education lab for more than 40 years.
Now they are in a hurry, for that plan may never see the light of day. They may be easing toward a Stalin 101 blueprint, fearing just two more elections and they could be out of business altogether. They could be the ones buried, only with the truth spoken at the funeral for a change.
While we spend a lot of time trying to war-game what might happen out here (regardless of what happens in Washington), I want to note here (and in the following piece), what it means to History if we continue to win as we seem to be, now. Setting the history of these timers aright is a problem the government at the federal level cannot, and should not be required to solve. We have to do it ourselves.
Think about it.