". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Philosophical History = Bad History

     . . . . Why I dislike 'philosophical' -- pattern, cyclical theories of history -- which certainly leads to counterfactual and thus to 'non-factual fax' and 'fake-alt news' and even superstitious, religious beliefs of what is not so, here, behind the WaPo, pay wall. [For those who don't have a subscription here is the link: ]

Remember this? That's what one gets without the rigorous thought demanded.
This takes care of explaining why Toynbee and the Durants never worked for me, even as an adolescent.  Single, simple explanations for anything in history are automatically suspect, and all the more so the large arc of time and more eras are covered in these repeating pattern explanations and descriptions. Another way of putting this, is one squeezes anything into a pattern and discards  what doesn't fit.  It's simple-minded deliberately, providing ideas to people who aren't thinking, but by quoting such ilks believe it shows them deeply learned in history -- without having done any of the rigorous work that real historical analysis demands.  These guys are doing their best to bring back the idea of clash of civilizations that Toynbee and his ilks championed as real history, when the real roots of actions and events tend to be found in vast inequalities of wealth and resource distribution, and oppressions of certain groups by others.  But that is Marxism!  Can't have that!  Even though we lurve Lenin and Putin!

History does indeed appear to repeat itself, but that is because someone(s) have a vested interest in making things fall apart for their own power and profit.
We reject the deep premise of modern Western historians that social time is either linear (continuous progress or decline) or chaotic (too complex to reveal any direction). Instead we adopt the insight of nearly all traditional societies: that social time is a recurring cycle in which events become meaningful only to the extent that they are what philosopher Mircea Eliade calls “reenactments.” In cyclical space, once you strip away the extraneous accidents and technology, you are left with only a limited number of social moods, which tend to recur in a fixed order. 
Along this cycle, we can identify four “turnings” that each last about 20 years — the length of a generation. Think of these as recurring seasons, starting with spring and ending with winter. In every turning, a new generation is born and each older generation ages into its next phase of life.
The cycle begins with the First Turning, a “High” which comes after a crisis era. In a High, institutions are strong and individualism is weak. Society is confident about where it wants to go collectively, even if many feel stifled by the prevailing conformity. Many Americans alive today can recall the post-World War II American High (historian William O’Neill’s term), coinciding with the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy presidencies. Earlier examples are the post-Civil War Victorian High of industrial growth and stable families, and the post-Constitution High of Democratic Republicanism and Era of Good Feelings.
The Second Turning is an “Awakening,” when institutions are attacked in the name of higher principles and deeper values. Just when society is hitting its high tide of public progress, people suddenly tire of all the social discipline and want to recapture a sense of personal authenticity. Salvation by faith, not works, is the youth rallying cry. One such era was the Consciousness Revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s. Some historians call this America’s Fourth or Fifth Great Awakening, depending on whether they start the count in the 17th century with John Winthrop or the 18th century with Jonathan Edwards.
The Third Turning is an “Unraveling,” in many ways the opposite of the High. Institutions are weak and distrusted, while individualism is strong and flourishing. Third Turning decades such as the 1990s, the 1920s and the 1850s are notorious for their cynicism, bad manners and weak civic authority. Government typically shrinks, and speculative manias, when they occur, are delirious.
Finally, the Fourth Turning is a “Crisis” period. This is when our institutional life is reconstructed from the ground up, always in response to a perceived threat to the nation’s very survival. If history does not produce such an urgent threat, Fourth Turning leaders will invariably find one — and may even fabricate one — to mobilize collective action. Civic authority revives, and people and groups begin to pitch in as participants in a larger community. As these Promethean bursts of civic effort reach their resolution, Fourth Turnings refresh and redefine our national identity. The years 1945, 1865 and 1794 all capped eras constituting new “founding moments” in American history.
There is much more bullshit in this article - theory, just starting with declarations like this
Earlier examples are the post-Civil War Victorian High of industrial growth and stable families, and the post-Constitution High of Democratic Republicanism and Era of Good Feelings.
This clown doesn't even know what what was meant by "era of good feelings," which was single party rule, and it happened BEFORE the Civil War, way back the Napoleonic era and the War of 1812.

The more closely one looks at this article the more ignorance of history is displayed by the writer.

People like his cohorts are actively working to destabilize our nation and literally to destroy all the institutions of government and replace it with a tyranny that they control from top to bottom -- and some have been doing so since what they label High, FDR and the post WWII era. How dare they say this is a naturally occurring cyclic event?  Moreover, they are doing their best to make wars where there were none until they rode in on their chosen steed of the Apocalypse.  They think it is fun!

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