Saturday, September 18, 2021

Live by history, die by history

Live by history, die by history. Those civilizations which write one-sided history, focussed on projecting their side as virtuous and their rivals as wicked, have an advantage when they are in the phase of growth. Their history texts give rise to the feeling that the past was happy and glorious. The population is galvanized by the stories of past heroes, innovators, leaders, explorers, and thinkers. They are inspired to equal the achievements of their ancestors. They are motivated to make sacrifices to take their civilization forward.

When civilization is on the decline, then its people are confronted with a new interpretation of the same one-sided history. Its intellectuals pore into the history texts and they ferret out the details of the instances when the civilization had acted wickedly for the achievement of geopolitical goals. They make the case that in the past, when civilization was in the phase of growth, it did not practice the moral values that it preaches in the present. They present history as a compendium of the immoralities and crimes that the civilization has committed in the past.

Thus, history is no longer optimistic. It is pessimistic. It is no longer a praise of the past. It is an accusatory finger pointed at the past and the present. Instead of making the case that good civilizations are created by the just efforts of virtuous and strong people, the chapters of history seem to elucidate that good civilizations are made by enslavers, invaders, mass murderers, and looters. This negative sense of history demoralizes the population that is bred on the modern notions of morality. It makes them feel alienated from their past. 

In the twenty-first century, the West is in the phase of steep decline. The Western history is no longer an optimistic record of their past accomplishments—it is a pessimistic record of their past immoralities and crimes. Most people who read Western history are likely to become alienated from the West. That is why the humanities students in most Western universities are virulently anti-West. They feel disgusted by their civilization’s past. They see no heroes in their past, only monsters who violated the tenets of morality for making geopolitical gains. 

There exists a contradiction between Western history and Western sense of morality and the pretension that the West stands for liberty. This contradiction cannot be expunged. Either the West will have to give up its sense of morality, its pretension of being a bastion of liberty, and revert to the barbarism of the Age of Imperialism, or it will have to discard its sense of history. The West cannot avoid falling into the chasm that divides the past and the present. History helped the West in making gains during the Age of Imperialism. Now history is leading to its downfall.

No comments: