Inadequacy of our Historical Studies

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Sir John Glubb laments the inadequacy of our historical studies:

In fact, the modern nations of the West have derived only limited value from their historical studies, because they have never made them big enough. For history to have meaning, as we have already stated, it must be the history of the human race.

Far from achieving such an ideal, our historical studies are largely limited to the history of our own country during the lifetime of the present nation. Thus the time-factor is too short to allow the longer rhythms of the rise and fall of nations even to be noticed. As the television director indicated, it never even crosses our minds that longer periods could be of any interest.

When we read the history of our own nation, we find the actions of our ancestors described as glorious, while those of other peoples are depicted as mean, tyrannical or cowardly. Thus our history is (intentionally) not based on facts. We are emotionally unwilling to accept that our forbears might have been mean or cowardly.

Alternatively, there are ‘political’ schools of history, slanted to discredit the actions of our past leaders, in order to support modern political movements. In all these cases, history is not an attempt to ascertain the truth, but a system of propaganda, devoted to the furtherance of modern projects, or the gratification of national vanity.

Men can scarcely be blamed for not learning from the history they are taught. There is nothing to learn from it, because it is not true.


  1. Bob Sykes says:

    Peter Turchin seems to be filling in the hole.

  2. Rollory says:

    I remember seeing Jon Liebowitz (Stewart) talking about how progressive values have been advancing “throughout history”. He gave examples going back to the late 1800s.

    I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion it doesn’t matter whether he knows what’s wrong with that argument or not.

  3. For Europeans, a hundred miles is a long way. For Americans, a hundred years is a long time.

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