16 February 2012

Licking The Hand That Feeds Them?


I read an interesting post at History News Network recently. The writer laments:

These issues are live, and almost anything in the history we study bears on some similarly live issue, be it the place of women, religion or indeed education, the rights of man, the way power works. So if we consider our subject or our practice of it apolitical, we damn ourselves to irrelevance. But if we think we're relevant and politically engaged, then firstly we're probably doing bad history, and secondly we're probably selling something, and quite possibly to ourselves. So, as yet, I haven't found a way out of this; as long as we make a living out of history it's predictable that we'll speak in protection of the order that permits us to do so . . . (Emphasis mine. Read the rest here.)

An amazing and refreshing admission by a historian. Gotta respect him for his honesty. Exactly as I've been saying for quite a few years now. Of course, this admission (as if objective observers didn't already know this) won't change anything. But it is nice to see someone be honest about it, isn't it? In regards to a way out, simply admit your bias, worldview, and perspective and then write as honestly as you can and let the chips fall where they may. Or, in the words of Arthur Koestler: "One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."

2 comments:

Peter MacHare said...

"But if we think we're relevant and politically engaged, then firstly we're probably doing bad history, and secondly we're probably selling something...."

Ha! So if we're irrelevant and not politically engaged does it then follow that we are more likely doing good history?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

They seem to be in quite the quandary, huh? Actually, I think many of them do bad history and include bad politics as well.