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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The False Terminology of History and Philosophy

Question: What is the common feature in the following terms which we often encounter in history and philosophy books: “State of Nature,” “Primitive Barter Society,” “Noble Savages,” “Primitive Cannibal Society,” “Aryan Invasion,” “the Fertile Crescent,” “the Classical Age,” “the Renaissance,” “the Scientific Revolution,” “the Enlightenment,” “the Dark Continent,” “Aryan Race,” “Classical Liberal Society,” and “Capitalist Free Market Society.”   

Answer: Each of these terms represents a myth—they represent intellectual hoaxes and blatant European propaganda. No historian or explorer has discovered the kind of people, societies, or movements that these terms seem to represent. There is no evidence that such people, societies, or movements ever existed. In many cases, the nature of the society, movement, or cultural system is fundamentally different from the impression that the term attributed to it creates. 

When you come across such terms in any book, the questions that you ought to ask are: Who created these terms? When did they create these terms? What was their political ideology? What was their political agenda? Why did they select this particular term? Why not some other term? Is it possible that they selected a particular term because they wanted to prejudice the reader by planting a certain kind of impression in his mind?  

A few of these terms were created by European scholars in the late eighteenth century but most were created in the nineteenth century, which was the climax of European colonialism. These terms must be seen as the virulent symptoms of the biased historiography which was propagated around the world during the Age of Imperialism. 

The purpose of these terms was not history and philosophy but geopolitical propaganda and psychological warfare aimed at establishing European supremacy. The European intellectuals wanted people in all parts of the world to believe that Europe was always supreme, that the Europeans were mankind’s apex achievers, that they were fit to rule all of humanity. They wanted to propagate the idea that Europe was the cradle of modern civilization and the non-European cultures were full of primitive and barbaric people.  

After 1950, overwhelming historical evidence became available and it became impossible for historians and philosophers to pretend that these terms were not founded on false premises. Most serious works of history and philosophy, written after 1970, tend to avoid the usage of such terms. 

However, the books written by propagandists (and their foolish followers) continue to use such terms—among such books, I would rank Steven Pinker’s racist book Enlightenment Now. Pinker argues that all good things have come from Europe. He claims that the Europeans have brought prosperity for all and made the world far less violent and cruel. He ignores the plunder, destruction, and genocides that the European powers have committed in rest of the world. He creates the impression that the annihilation of whole civilizations in the Americas, Africa, and Australia was of no consequence. 

For most of the time before 1450, Europe was lagging behind North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. As I pointed out in my earlier article, the only reason European history and philosophy seems so rich is because the European governments became very rich (thanks to the plunder from the colonies) after the 16th century. They could invest in building new universities and institutions which pursued a propagandist kind of historical research.

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