Monday, November 28, 2016
"History unravels gently, like an old sweater. It has been patched and darned many times, re-knitted to suit different people, shoved in a box under the sink of censorship to be cut up for the dusters of propaganda, yet it always - eventually - manages to spring back into its old familiar shape. History has a habit of changing the people who think they are changing it. History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It's been around a long time.”
- Terry Pratchett, Mort (1987)
In trying times I like to think of History as an abstraction, something that moves of its own accord and on its own timetable, even as the ambitious and the vicious try to bend and shape it. This is not to say that human beings don't make History - just that, as Karl Marx put it, "they do not always make it exactly as they please."
I think Marx was particularly referring to individuals. Great men, so-called, can leave a mark on a nation for a few decades, but over the longer term ordinary people, in their capacity as consumers and voters and builders and rearers of children, make the history that lasts.
(Image above: Clio, Muse of History, by Francesco Furini, via Wikimedia Commons)