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!
Denial of freedoms by democratically elected leaders!
Police States in today’s India!
A people can be traumatised by the fear of the state. Even now in states like Tamil Nadu under the Dravidian ideology, Shivsena in Maharashtra and also under Lalu in Bihar the “democratically-elected leaders have turned dictators by more subtle and pernicious methods.
An awe and a fear of the leader as a demi-god is created and carefully built up, cadres fall at the feet of the leaders and worship as gods! In TN no soceity will talk freely, openly of state affairs. Teachers, government servants, why even the entire middle class and upper classes are cowed down by this all-pervasive power of the leaders, in office and also in Opposition!
There cant be more telling an example of how some pernicious doctrines, Nazism and fascism, permeate into even changed times and transformed societies! In TN, the police is transformed into a semi-Gestapo like feared force! “The Nazis were at their most efficient in establishing a climate of fear and convicing average Germans that even chance criticisms would be picked up by the Gestapo”. Attacks on the media is another new trend in these states. So too the utter contempt for all norms of governance. No doubt, corruption is all pervasive. So, citizens live in freedom? Or fear?
One important lesson for Indians is to realize that history is not a remote academic study. Nor, it has no lessons for the present living. History is, in this all important sense, a living reailty! It is time we give up our prevailing notions of great men shaping history. Great men often commit great blunders. For their blunders, people pay a heavy price. Not once. But generation after generation! Great events really don’t have great causes.
They just occur as everyday events. So, we Indians also must learn to look at much of our recent past, our winning Freedom etc as events that forced upon us, or some folly committed by our own leaders!