1
   

Is it possible to untie history from propaganda?

 
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 08:15 am
@rhinogrey,
Isn't an important question, at least in this discussion, that should be asked something like this: What causes one particular interpretation of history to be discarded in favor of another by professional historians? And are not at least some of these reasons based on commonly accepted standards (rules and regulations, say, for example, about the selection of data)?
Sorryel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 08:39 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;97387 wrote:
Isn't an important question, at least in this discussion, that should be asked something like this: What causes one particular interpretation of history to be discarded in favor of another by professional historians? And are not at least some of these reasons based on commonly accepted standards (rules and regulations, say, for example, about the selection of data)?


In practice (as I say as somebody who has followed changes in historical interpretation for 50 years in and out of academia), its much more simple: interpretations move toward a more nuanced consensus on a given topic the more the topic is worked on by actual historians. Actual historians don't spend much time rehashing stuff that most people think of as significant (because those tend to be non-problems that were covered long ago) and its rare that a hot topic in history happens to cross paths with whatever accidently happens to be popping up in popular consciousness.
My current favorite example is how changes in the interpretation of the growth of crusading ideology in the Latin West have occurred. There was for a long time a standard "significant" story that the First Crusade was "preached" by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095. In short the whole idea of what a crusade was emerged in one act at one moment. People like stories like this where the "significance" is all in one spot, with a single cause and so on. This story is still "significant" to people who are not actually interested in it. Which is one of the odd things about the significant moments of history: if you really care about them enough to look carefully at them, they tend to look very different and usually less significant.
And so it was with the Pope's preaching of the First Crusade, for when historians actually began to look into that one event, it appeared as only one point in the evolution of crusading ideology. I won't go into detail but here are some random internet things on the topic:

Medieval Sourcebook: Urban II: Speech at Council of Clermont, 1095, according to Fulcherof Chartres

The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading | Riley-Smith, Jonathan

Remembering the Crusades
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 08:52 am
@jgweed,
While reading through an outstanding compilation of western history I ran across this. I think it enunciates perhaps the best way of viewing history in general, and ties directly to the propaganda aspect:[INDENT]"To begin with, causes in history cannot be ascertained any better than motive in its human agents. Both must be represented as probable, and it is wiser to speak of conditions rather than causes and of influences rather than force making for change, because what brings it about is the human will, which is distributed among all the living.

This is to say that a historian who contemplates the infinite diversity of human character, the range of human desires and powers, the multiplicity of social and political institutions, the endless schemes proposed for improving life, the numberless faiths, code, and customs passionately adhered to, fiercely hated, and in unceasing warfare, the vast universe of art with its expressions in a galaxy of styles and languages - all these existing to an accompaniment of sacrifice, injustice, and suffering, persecution imposed or willing endured - such a historian is persuaded that these challenges to the concrete imagination cannot be merged and reduced to a formula. History is not an agency nor does it harbor a hidden power; the word history is an ABSTRACTION for the totality of human deeds, and to make their clashing outcomes the fulfillment of some concealed purpose is to make human beings into puppets"
[/INDENT]"From Dawn to Decadence"
500 Years of Western Cultural Life

By Jacques Barzun, Copyright 2000. HarperCollins Press

I know it's fashionable - and often times even accurate - to refer to some aspects of the human experience as propaganda; I get it. But even in these cases, what we're referring to is someone's interpretation of a time, event or collection of events to support <whatever>. I really think it prudent that we make that separation: History is what was and is vast. As such, any idea, time, era, trend, culture, event or icon could conceivably be used to grind this or that axe. In such a case, one can't much attribute this to our history. The ownis (or 'sin' if that be the view) would necessarily need to lie with the interpreter rather than that they intepreted.

Hope this helps
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Oct, 2009 09:06 am
@rhinogrey,
One might mention, as well, Butterfield's Whig Interpretation of History (1931), or consider the discussions in his George III and the Historians (1959), or Haskin's argument that "The continuity of history rejects violent contrasts between successive periods, and modern research shows the Middle Ages less dark and less static, the Renaissance less bright and less sudden, than was once supposed" in his The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century ( 1927).
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 05:57 am
@jgweed,
Is it possible to untie the present from propaganda?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 07:57 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;113200 wrote:
Is it possible to untie the present from propaganda?


Of course (if I understand what you mean). Straight reporting. Like, "In 1940, Germany invaded the Low Countries". The Low Countries did not invade Germany. Of course, that does not mean that there are no controversial issues.
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 08:32 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;113241 wrote:
Of course (if I understand what you mean). Straight reporting. Like, "In 1940, Germany invaded the Low Countries". The Low Countries did not invade Germany. Of course, that does not mean that there are no controversial issues.


I do mean that but how much is left when the controversial issues are removed? Obviously, the field of history is as much about interpreting the facts as reporting them. Can the question: "Why did Germany invade the Low Countries?" be answered as objectively as the fact that the invasion indeed happened?

So we run into another defnition problem. What is history? Can we still call it history when it is reduced the historical version of "Straight reporting"? I say aye, that is still history. Facts exist in the present and facts existed in the past. The facts of the past that have been recorded and remembered correctly are propaganda-free history.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 08:41 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;113249 wrote:
I do mean that but how much is left when the controversial issues are removed? Obviously, the field of history is as much about interpreting the facts as reporting them. Can the question: "Why did Germany invade the Low Countries?" be answered as objectively as the fact that the invasion indeed happened?

So we run into another defnition problem. What is history? Can we still call it history when it is reduced the historical version of "Straight reporting"? I say aye, that is still history. Facts exist in the present and facts existed in the past. The facts of the past that have been recorded and remembered correctly are propaganda-free history.


Can the question: "Why did Germany invade the Low Countries?" be answered as objectively as the fact that the invasion indeed happened?

I don't see why not, if the historian tries to rld himself of bias. At least relatively objectively.

Of course, straight reporting will always be more objective than the interpretation of the facts. To expect otherwise is to be unrealistic. But consider Edward R. Murrow's famous eye-witness reporting in 1940 of the bombing of London. That was both history, and quite objective.
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 08:59 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;113251 wrote:
Can the question: "Why did Germany invade the Low Countries?" be answered as objectively as the fact that the invasion indeed happened?

I don't see why not, if the historian tries to rld himself of bias. At least relatively objectively.

Of course, straight reporting will always be more objective than the interpretation of the facts. To expect otherwise is to be unrealistic. But consider Edward R. Murrow's famous eye-witness reporting in 1940 of the bombing of London. That was both history, and quite objective.


Well, come to think of it, facts can be deduced from other facts. Deduction is a sort of interpretation. Ergo the field of propaganda-free history just got a little bigger (for me). It now includes some (or at least one) forms of interpretation.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 09:42 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;113256 wrote:
Deduction is a sort of interpretation.


It is? How? ......................
0 Replies
 
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 10:01 am
@rhinogrey,
kennethamy;113266 wrote:
It is? How? ......................

What do you mean by "How"?

....You're breaking up....hello?...I'm sorry...I can't hear you...
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 10:06 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;113271 wrote:
What do you mean by "How"?


I mean why do you think that deduction is a kind of interpretation. I think you mean inference, since deduction is only one kind of inference. There is also inductive inference. But why would inference be a kind of interpretation, anyway? Suppose I infer that Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo from the premise that he was then exiled to Elba. What is interpretive about that?
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 08:52 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;113272 wrote:
I mean why do you think that deduction is a kind of interpretation. I think you mean inference, since deduction is only one kind of inference. There is also inductive inference. But why would inference be a kind of interpretation, anyway? Suppose I infer that Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo from the premise that he was then exiled to Elba. What is interpretive about that?


There is no reason to end every post with a question mark. Try just making your point and we can all move on from there.
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 07:42 am
@rhinogrey,
Even if everything is a matter of human interpretation, there are many different kinds of interpretation. One distinction is between, for example, personal interpretation that relies primarily upon individual associations held in memory, and communal interpretation which makes knowledge and communication possible. Within the latter, there are additionally many different landscapes, or horizons, or perspectives, that carry (for example) different degrees of "certainty." Each of these horizons is governed by different and accepted rules and procedures by which to give meaning and understanding to the subject at hand.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 08:11 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;113507 wrote:
Even if everything is a matter of human interpretation, there are many different kinds of interpretation. One distinction is between, for example, personal interpretation that relies primarily upon individual associations held in memory, and communal interpretation which makes knowledge and communication possible. Within the latter, there are additionally many different landscapes, or horizons, or perspectives, that carry (for example) different degrees of "certainty." Each of these horizons is governed by different and accepted rules and procedures by which to give meaning and understanding to the subject at hand.


My shoes are not a matter of human interpretation, as far as I can see. So not everything is a matter of human interpretation. Maybe you mean that everything that people say is a matter of interpretation. But suppose I say that I am going to the mall to buy a pair of brown shoes. Is that also subject to interpretation?

---------- Post added 12-22-2009 at 09:12 AM ----------

Deckard;113384 wrote:
There is no reason to end every post with a question mark. Try just making your point and we can all move on from there.


Don't be misled. Those are rhetorical questions. They are really statements in question form.
0 Replies
 
HexHammer
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2010 09:03 pm
@rhinogrey,
rhinogrey;56451 wrote:
Is it possible to untie history from propaganda?

I've got some of my own thoughts on the issue but I wanted to open the floor to some discussion first.

Any thoughts?
That wouldn't be possible, only by having other relyable facts to contradict the propaganda, it can be possible ..but how would you know the contradicting facts are relyable?
0 Replies
 
RDRDRD1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2010 09:12 pm
@rhinogrey,
It is possible but enormously difficult to achieve. You might wish to read Hedges' "Empire of Illusion" to get his take on how spectacle has ousted reality in modern American society. In that scenario propaganda IS history and, worse, illusion is wilfully and powerfully manipulated and embraced as truth.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, EVERYONE! - Discussion by OmSigDAVID
WIND AND WATER - Discussion by Setanta
Who ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall? - Discussion by Walter Hinteler
True version of Vlad Dracula, 15'th century - Discussion by gungasnake
ONE SMALL STEP . . . - Discussion by Setanta
History of Gun Control - Discussion by gungasnake
Where did our notion of a 'scholar' come from? - Discussion by TuringEquivalent
 
Copyright © 2023 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 01/26/2023 at 11:42:41