History written by victors?

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by azuren82, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. azuren82

    azuren82 Berserk got banned...

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    Well, for once, Foi should be relieved that there's no more MSN and Yahoo news here for now lol! :D

    Well, actually, last Sunday I was talking abt history with a fellow churchmate and he said that history is written by the winners and there's no such thing as a clear cut truth in it. What one can do at the very best is to look at this area from different aspects.

    For example, ppl are all calling Hitler evil and what not, but was he really like that? Could there be a reason behind what he had done?

    In a certain extent, I do agree with my friend. No matter what you want to say, history will always be written by the victors. Just think of it this way: History dictates that Japan invaded Asia for their selfish ambitions. But what if the Japs actually became victorious in WWII? Would what is written be changed? Everyone were saying how evil the Japs are, but if they are actually ruling over Asia in this current age, will history say so? I for one, will think all the Japs will say in the textbook in this scenario is very simple: They invaded Asia to liberate it from the Western countries and deny the Nanking Massacre, which to me is BS. In case you guys dunno, that shit is actually written in Japanese textbooks.

    But still, I do believe that while history is written by victors, there are certain truths in history that couldn't be denied. And that is why there were events in history that were universally recognized as true except to retarded ppl who said otherwise. That is why I've said just now that the Jap's reasons and denial for WW2 is BS. Scary thing is that there could be stupid ppl who buy that crap for all we know.

    Which comes to another issue: Are human beings stupid in a general sense where history is concerned? I think that if history textbooks say something, chances are ppl will accept it no matter how absurd the issue may sound. I think it has something to do with nationalism and the blind trust contained within it. True there are ppl who see things another way, but how many such ppl are there?

    This is one issue you guys might want to think over. For now, my views on this issue is done. Now it's you guys' turn.
     
  2. Ratamahatta

    Ratamahatta New Member

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    I don't think that any "objective" history is possible and will support my point of view with a (semi-)joke saying:

    Q: How can you get place in the history?

    A: Just bribe its author.

    It is written by those that can write, i.e. have the freedom to do so. (And are not killed by the victors ofc :p) For instance have you ever heard of Gaullic history? No. They were defeated by Ceasar who wrote his chronicles and they never even had time to learn to write.

    As for Japan and WW II you can see a nice answer and perspective in The Man in the high Castle
    This book illustrates well how history works.

    I have another example in mind - each of the Balkan countries with their many wars and conflicts throughout the history has less or more differences in the way they view and accept events, battles, teritorry claims and so forth. Depends which language you read and you'll have the strong feeling that these histories exist in parallel univereses.
     
  3. azuren82

    azuren82 Berserk got banned...

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    Agreed on that. :)
     
  4. volksmenner

    volksmenner practitioner of æsthetics

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    remember the opening to revenge of the sith, there were "heroes on both sides"? i think the same, more often than not, holds true of non-fiction. who really sees their self or their cause as a villain or villainous?

    the first casualty of war is truth and certainly after the dust has settled the truth remains buried with "heroes" who become "villains". george washington, thomas jefferson, john adams ... there is no doubt about it, history would have treated these men much differently had england secured victory.

    so i do not believe there is anything but consensus on this issue. history is written by the victors. however i am glad that you raise this point, because perhaps it will allow those who are so caught up in the passion of present politics to take pause and question your civil servants, government officials and policy makers before the fact rather than after if at all.
     
  5. Lady_of_Shalott

    Lady_of_Shalott Weaving the Magic Web

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    History isn't always written by the victor. Can anyone say "the crusades"?

    I think it's fairly obvious that different people groups are going to see history in different ways. The history of the American West has been an ascensionist story. But from the perspective of the Native Americans, it is the declentionist story.

    Where different interpretations of history really become a problem is when people use history to fuel their current political needs. That's where fact usually goes out the window. For example, there are lots of historians who still like to debate about what the real cause of the fall of Rome was. But interpretations of the fall of Rome really can't affect anything today, so nobody really cares. More recent history, however, like the history of the American West, or Vietnam, etc., that's where things gets tricky.
     
  6. kartaron

    kartaron Hunter / Gatherer

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    You have to have the desire and ability to control information to an extreme degree to write history. In ancient times it was fairly easy as rulers were able to control the few who knew how to write. In modern times controlling history only works in extremely local areas like North Korea.
     
  7. Ratamahatta

    Ratamahatta New Member

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    Hmmm, can't entirely agree with that. Controlling history is not necessary something explicit as it is in the case of N Korea (from our point of view - no clue how the local folks think of that). But it is always controlled by the state. After all the Ministry of Education decides which book of history to be studied in school. For people who don't continue their history education in higher level, which is virtually everybody but the history specialists, what is learned in school is what history is.
    Few are savvy enough with the discipline of history in order to understand why a concrete piece information is presented in some specific way and not another. In any case, the history doesn't exist as something indipendent but as a story, told by an author, i.e. it represents author's points of view on the topic. Hence different authors or - even better - schools of thought have different traditions and different versions of history are created. And some of these stories are accepted by the state education as "official", which comes to say "true".
    If you think that the historic information is not censored by the victors, ask yourself why the pupils in the USA don't study (detailed) history of the Native Americans. With all the blood-shed caused by the white colonists, the broken promises and so forth. A history that reveals the real spirit of the first white inhabitants of the continent, of the ancestors.
     
  8. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

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    History is written by those who can write, true.
    So in modern times, there are many histories written of many perspectives of one and the same event. Because man can write.
    Each and every journal, newspaper, blog etc is the history of tomorrow. And each one has a slightly different viewpoint.

    But I guess in 200 years, or maybe even in 50, there'll be only one general viewpoint from which the Iraq war will be seen. It does not depend on who has written the history, but who can sell ist best- in who the people believe, who has the mass behind him.
    So yes, history is "written" by the winners.

    As for the original example of Hitler, which is not a good one, btw.:
    If Hitler would have reached his goals, I guess many people wouldn't live to complain about history and those who lived wouldn't even know that there is History at all. Except for a few and those would be the ones manipulating it.
    And... there is no acceptable reason for what Hitler has done. None whatsoever. His visions of a world are not the ones you can combine with human morals and feelings. For a thinking person, Hitler could never be "the good one."
     
  9. kartaron

    kartaron Hunter / Gatherer

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    It just doesnt work anymore. There is too much free press. There is too much pandering to voting blocks. We cant lock down details to verifiable events because so many are eager to question anything posed as an official story.

    Assuming you didnt study the american aboriginee in detail in school (I did so I guess your school was different)... What is missing? It is generally accepted they were treated poorly (depending on what details you find accurate and how those place in context) Details like the pox blankets and militaristic raids on innocent camps are commonly accepted as fact. What part of the truth is escaping notice? I cant defend much about government schools, I dislike the very idea, but to blame them for providing a limited view (of course they will, it is a basics of education they seek to impart) is a reach. People are responsible to educate themselves. The access to knowledge is unprecedented in history. With that comes some responsibility for judgment but the information is there.

    Going back through history there is no part of an official story that isnt being questioned. Gulf of tonkin, questioned... Kennedy assassination, questioned... 9/11, questioned... American businesses backing Hitler, questioned... Indian conflicts, questioned... Lincoln heterosexual, questioned... from modern day to the Crusades... what isnt being revised by historians on a week to week basis? What historical figures dont have both good and bad portrayals in biographies? Ive read books about Napoleon describing him as a charismatic and decisive leader who had an excellent grasp on tactics and formations then read another book which described him as a cowardly and incompetent but unusually lucky man who managed to conquer half the world. One of those is clearly incorrect, yet both exist.

    If anything I think many Americans are on the other side of the looking glass... doubting the official story simply because it is the official story and having none or scant evidence to support that doubt.
     
  10. Ratamahatta

    Ratamahatta New Member

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    An American doubting about the official American history isn't anything different from a victor (having in mind the Native Americans) doubting about the story told by the victors. It's quite positive to have doubts and various claims about history but the official version still holds its ground on the basis that it's the first impression one gets in his/her life. Otherwise the more the versions, the better - this is the only way for someone to create his/her own oppinion and to judge, based on it.
    The statement that history is written by the victors basically states that history is written by those that have survived the war. Those still alive enough to write. Even if the defeated had a different view on the topic of history they wouldn't be allowed to express it freely.

    PS: Didn't know that the Native Americans are studied in detail in the US schools. That's good.
    But it is still an example of the way we, Western ppl study and understand things which has little in common with the non-literate societies' perception. An evetual turn in the history wouldn't just change the the very story itself but quite probably the way we think, especially such a major turn as a defeat of the white people in America or a Hitler's victory in WW II.
     
  11. warrior_squirrel21

    warrior_squirrel21 blue is my favorite color

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    Well, In the US Civil War that was deffinatly the case. After the war, most of the South was portrayed as completely racist and hickish. So many stereotypes came from that war, and even today in most Northern, and even many Southern American History classes slavery is told to be the main cause for the heroic Marylander to invade the heathen Tennesseean lol.
     
  12. azuren82

    azuren82 Berserk got banned...

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    Lol that's lame. One truth for sure is that behind every war started, there will always be certain selfish factors. :S
     
  13. Senekha

    Senekha <a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><

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    Ancient history was generally written by the victors.
    Modern-day wars are not, too much media, etc.

    I'm writing a paper that concerns this topic, at the moment. Not about it exactly, but it is discussed in it. I'm writing about the similarities and differences in the Graeco-Persian wars and the America/Iraq war, and how the modern media has twisted both.
     
  14. Mel Carriere

    Mel Carriere New Member

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    History written immediately after an important event is always written by the victors and basically serves as a justification for the action, which is why it should be ignored. Only time can reveal the real truth, when people's emotions have subsided and a rational approach sets in.
     
  15. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Exactly the point I was going to make Mel :) Time and distance help the real truth come out. Even in today's instant media, false information is put out regularly. Only later do you find out further clarification, by which time many people have lost interest and only care to remember the incorrect information they originally heard.
     
  16. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    No-no-no, rarely does the real truth ever come out.
    In most regards, people want the dumbed-down history over the 'truthier' stuff.
     
  17. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    While I don't disagree with you 100% about that point, it is very hard to quantify. If a false truth is reported initially, then the "real" truth is revised down the track, you can say which was which. But if only one version of any incident ever exists, do you automatically disbelieve it?

    I do agree that most people seem more comfortable with the "diet coke" versions of history. Humanity is ugly, and we like to sweep our grotesqueries under the rug and pretend we're all nice civilised creatures all the time, which just isn't true.
     
  18. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    I think when history is involved the best we can do is get a clearer picture of people and events.


    When you read a great deal of well investigated histories like I do, you quickly discover many of the myths we accept as truth were started by the actual historical figures themselves. Sometimes it's worse. Sometimes a satirical article gets misinterpreted as an actual first person account and from then on is quoted as real history. No one goes back to the original source to see if it's valid or not.

    I was talking to someone the other evening about the unemployment rate and he felt somehow comfortable that at least it wasn't nearly as bad as the Great Depression. I asked him if he knew what the unemployment rates were during the Depression... he said over 50%. I corrected him and said it never got above 25%, and during the 1930s it in fact averaged around 20% or less. We just think everyone was out of work because we only see the old photographs of the Dust Bowl and folks standing in long soup lines. Indeed, the current unemployment numbers really ought to scare the piss out of people because they are grossly under reported and are probably hovering around 14%-16%, not the 9.1% we'd like to believe.
    I also let him know that Stock Brokers throwing themselves out of windows as the Market crashed was also a myth... though there were some who committed suicide, and others who had heart attacks and strokes. The myth grew out of a punch line of a joke.
     
  19. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    When you read a lot about evertything, like I do, you quickly learn that the truth is not uniform and that the presence a truth - for each person - is much more important than the truth, whatever that may be.

    Since, however, the (state) monopoly on information supply has been broken, other truths, often a lot more than just one, come out. It does make the world much more interesting, as it is for each person to decide which truth to accept. The internet did indeed help in spreading information. A lot more information, to be precise. Which, ironically, makes the truth much more vague. It sounds like an adverse effect, but I like the new way the world turns. It forces people to actively engage at least their thoughts to process the information provided.

    Is there a lot of truth that, in retrospect, turn out to be untruthful? Yes. Very yes, indeed. Is that, however, a problem? That's a very hard nut to crack...
     
  20. azuren82

    azuren82 Berserk got banned...

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    iirc I think that at the end of the day, history is just this: His Story. The story about humanity. Whatever statistics or what not won't matter anywhere beyond the whole on-the-paper logic if we can't even accept that whatever being written is by the human hands. Ultimately the presence of history should be there to make the later generations learn what exactly should be learnt. However this is only on paper. In reality, there's such a thing called human arrogance and that's why we'll always get dumbed down versions of all the stuff we read. When it comes to the whole feudal ear stuff, things are still not that bad because our generation could think much more coherently due to the relevant time gap. i.e. Our brains wouldn't be THAT dumb to get brainwashed by anything being officially written by a random scribe. The more immediate issues would that of the recent ages so as to speak. Now that's when we really need to use our brains to figure out how much is the truth and lies behind the scenes. Although history is written by victors, I'd say that the losers also had their own version of the events. Only thing is that such things won't be available that easily because... well losers ARE losers practically speaking of course. Only by reading on both sides can we actually use our own brains to reason what is going on all the while. And even then, not everything we've seen at that point of time will be 100% accurate. But to me, only by doing so can we know what is His Story aka the story of man. And quite obviously without knowing the relevant chapters of His Story, we won't be able to learn from the past mistakes.