Friday, 18 September 2015

How true is the history of the historians?

Personally, I have never liked history as a subject to study upon seriously. The reason for the same is because I define it as - “A manipulated presentation of past events that suits the personal and political interests of the interpreter”. Consider the fact that I am writing this piece in the current times, probably for future generations to understand about the present events that would be regarded as history for them in the future. My obvious prejudices and other pre-conceived notions about the current events would shape not just my analysis of the current events, rather the reportage of them too. As any other normal human being, I am entitled to have my own opinion, but up to what extent? Generally people make up their mind first and then search the facts accordingly. I have seen this with my family, friends and even reputed journalists, writers and historians.
Some people would say that I am exaggerating the view that all history is motivated. Certainly, when you are unshackling the fetters of their notions that they considered normal till now, there would be an attempt to resist the change. The day you ask them, Excuse me, Mister/Miss, how can we trust your teachings about the history? Were you alive then? Were you with the concerned person then, and analyzed all the pros and cons of the action that has made it to the books of the history? If not, then how can you so assuredly present the history as ‘facts’ of that concerned time?
Which history is manipulated? There are two basic classifications of history –
  • Facts/Events of the past.
  • Analysis of those events.
The first category is generally less manipulated, because there are documents supporting the same. For example – Who can question if the First World War occurred between 1914-1918? Skeptics would raise the question- Who can pin point the exact time of the start and end of the world war, but let’s not go into that much detail for now. Therefore, the timeline of events that occurred in the past are generally less manipulated except the causes, nature of the event and the consequences. Why they are less manipulated? Because they are merely reportage, like the current reporting by the news agencies, which does not involve value additions of judgments or the projection of cause and effect relationships.
The second category is regarded more scandalous because of the high level of manipulation presented deliberately to further their political and cultural causes. For example – NATO alliance strikes Syria to fight against the ISIL. Now, this statement can be presented in multiple ways. Various ideologies, political alignments, theories of understanding politics would work simultaneously to present this ‘fact’ in a manner that would suit my cause. If I am a Russian, I would call it merely an eye wash to strike the ISIL, whereas the true motive is to strengthen anti-Assad rebels and prepare the ouster of the Shia regime. A Saudi historian would present it as the ‘war of liberation’ of Islam from the clutches of untouchable Shia rule. Therefore, generally the analysis part of the history is more manipulated. Now the question arises, how to write a history which is free from every bias, conceptions or the ideologies?
The basic truth is that it is impossible to be unbiased in general representation of history, even if you include all the contemporary views about the event. But certainly, a preface should be given before the writing/teaching, alerting the reader/learner that the general bias towards the ‘X’ ideology or political thought has been intendedly or unintendedly included in this historical assemblage.
‘Historians’ should not resist any such change, rather they should welcome the questioning of their intent and political ideology that they used to manufacture their historical papers. Such a productive interaction would strengthen the trust of the public on their historians and would ultimately polish up the best versions of history, possibly less prejudiced towards any ideology and political causes. The cycle of dialectical method including thesis, anti-thesis and the synthesis ultimately unearths the best possible truth or version of the study. Certainly, there could be no single right answer/opinion about an event, we should realize it, the sooner, the better.
So which bias did you see in my writing or writings in general? Please comment below or contact me directly through the contact form on the right side of the blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment