Monday, November 28, 2016

Quote of the Day

"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)


Glen Filthie said...

I respectfully disagree.

How many times have you heard some peacenik berating George Bush because 'there were never any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq!!!! Bush lied! People died...!!!!'

Welp - what was on those endless convoys that drove right past the UN inspectors without stopping? And, we know Saddam had the weapons of mass destruction because our allies sold them and he used them on the Kurds. All this is a matter of public record but it very seldom comes up in any frank discussions of the war in Iraq.

Some history and histories deserve to get thrown out.

Dave Nichols said...

Thank you for your comment. I think Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush both fall into the "individuals who don't make history as they please" category. The Iraq Wsr didn't turn out well for either of them, though I'm sure Saddam would gladly trade places with George. The "peaceniks" had no impact on the war until a majority of voters in the US decided (in 2006 and 2008) they'd had enough, for reasons that had very little to do with WMDs and very much to do with the outbreak of a civil war in Iraq. Arguably the post-Saddam Iraqi insurgents played a pretty big part in this turn of events.