It was a revolt of the masses and the intellectuals!
Raisa Maksimovna Gorbachev
Has the world become a better and safer place after the fall of Communism? Views could differ. America as the sole Super Power is a good thing? or, what are the alternatives? All big and difficult questions.Politicians are no better judges,as they are transitory persons. Today they would hit the headlines, tomorrow they would be gone!
Yes, the intellectuals could help.But who are intellectuals and how many are really independent? Historians are better guides. They look at the past, the current situation and interpret what they know.Paul Johnson, Eric Hobsbawm I had read just once again. Johnson in his Modern Times and Hobsbawm in his, The Age of Extremes,a history of the world, 1914-1991 have much to say on how the fall of Communism in 1989 came about how it can be understood in the wider context. Johnson, given his broad sweep of historical look,puts the emphasis on religious forces, Catholicism in Poland, the late Pope John Paul’s involvement with the Polish trade union, Solidarity as the real trigger for the subsequent events. Given the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the post -Communist historic phase, may be the religious forces could have played a role. In Eric Hobsbawm’s (he still calls himself a Marxist historian) view the fall of Communism was owing to the internal contradictions in the former Soviet Union.
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Some thoughts on the history of our times. History is a challenging social science!
Reading history is one thing. Writing history is another thing. Should we, Indians, re-write our history? India’s need to re-write and also learn to re-interpret the world events of the 20th century and also the likely shape of history in the 21st century.
We Indians seem to be blissfully living without a sense of history.We read history in our schools and colleges.But what history we read?Indian history?World history?Indian history is not so easy.Indian past had been a troubled past.There is much that is shameful,we have been repeated invaded and plundered for nearly 1,000 years,arent we?There had been long periods of famine and hunger and thousands,no millions perished.What is so great about our past?
These questions trouble me a lot.As a result of our past history,it is my firm view, that I find the average Indian as a timid, subservient and non-assertive type. Many thinkers have given thought to this side of the Indian character.The latest is Prof.Amartya Sen who had come out with his own peculiar,in my view quite untenable,view of Indian thought having some skeptical streak,as against Sen’s false view of Indian thought to be always submissive to authority.Anyway,this new discovery is no great discovery and doesn’t help to understand our past nor helps to know our present standing as a nation,as a distinctive identity.
My point is that Indians certainly need to re-write their history from the point of view of how our present failings as a distinctive nation,as a peace-loving people,is a bit self-deluding.We are in fact yet to come to terms with the everyday reality of the world and how the world events shape and how India as an independent nation fit into the emerging world realities.
So,any study of history,more so Indian history must be written and lots of the present day standard history writing,be it by Leftist historians or the more untenable rightwing Communalists,all must takle note of the need to give Indian people a new sense of purpose and a new set of insights into our past failings and our present day opportunities to shape our nation and our own character in a new sense of national identity.
More also important is the world events,world history and how we Indians have understood the world history. Read More →
History is series of accidents
Big events have no big causes!
Marxists believe history has a pattern or lessons. Non-Marxists like Alan Taylor (who taught me history) thought history is a series of accidents. As Taylor had said many a time the first war was triggered because on the “fateful July 28 1914,all the six assassins at Sarajevo missed their mark; Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot only because his driver had taken a wrong turning and stopped, enabling Princip, the assassin to step on the running side-board and take a second shot” (A.J.P.Taylor, A biography (page 226). So too, in Taylor’s view other great events: Hitler’s “seizure of power “in 1933. Also Lenin’s “seizure of power” in 1917. Here too Taylor gives new insights, other than the brainwashing tomes on the topic! Some of the latest books on such dictators and human monsters like Mao and Hitler show us new insights. One new book on Hitler (The Third Reich in Power, 1933-1939 by Richard Evans) gives us in India new insights how even now fascism, Nazism can turn state power into police states!
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History:a challenging social science!
Reading history is one thing Writing history is another thing Should we,Indians, re-write our history? India’s need to re-write and also learn to re-interpret the world events of the 20th century and the likely shape of history in the 21st century is a challenge for intellectuals and educators.
Eric Hobsbawam, the Marxist historian and yet otherwise a fine historically- insightful thinker and writer of some of the widely read volumes spanning almost the modern Europe calls the the 20th century as the “short 20th century”. (A history of the world, 1914 – 1991.) And a”bloody century” with two world wars and too many dictators as human monsters: Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and then Mao, who among themselves helped to butcher a huge humanity of innocent people! May be, because of so much brutalities he traces the birth of the 20th century from the beginning of the first world war, that is from 1914.And the end of it with the fall of Communism in 1989.
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History:a challenging social science!
Some thoughts on the history of our times
Eric Hobsbawam, the Marxist historian and yet otherwise a fine historically- insightful thinker and writer of some of the widely read volumes spanning almost the modern Europe calls the 20th century as the “short 20th century”. (A history of the world, 1914 – 1991) And a”bloody century” with two world wars and too many dictators as human monsters: Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and then Mao, who among themselves helped to butcher a huge humanity of innocent people! May be, because of so much brutalities he traces the birth of the 20th century from the beginning of the first world war, that is from 1914. And the end of it with the fall of Communism in 1989.
Yes, the old world, the old world order of imperial powers, most notably the Austro-Hungarian Empire that lasted for nearly four centuries effectively ended when its heir was assassinated by a Serb nationalist youth in 1914.
The subject of the origins and the consequences of the First World War had been widely written about and debated. Read More →