4 thoughts on “History As End: 1619, 1776, and the politics of the past

  1. The writer concludes: “The past may live inside the present, but it does not govern our growth. However sordid or sublime, our origins are not our destinies; our daily journey into the future is not fixed by moral arcs or genetic instructions.”

    It is hard to disagree with the observation, but I’m less comfortable with the follow on:

    “We must come to see history, as Brown put it, not as ‘what we dwell in, are propelled by, or are determined by,’ but rather as ‘what we fight over, fight for, and aspire to honor in our practices of justice.'”

    Not everything is dialectic.

    I see history as an evolving record, one that is vastly more incomplete and prone to error than otherwise.


      1. Not everything is dialectic. Either as thesis or antithesis, the “evolving record” doesn’t merit fighting over or for or aspiring to honor in our practices of justice. Put another way, history is too unreliable to serve as a political cause.


  2. $#!t happens; at the wrong time, in the wrong place, and for the wrong reasons. It is the job of the historian to correct these errors.

    “Biographical history, as taught in our public schools, is still largely a history of boneheads: ridiculous kings and queens, paranoid political leaders, compulsive voyagers, ignorant generals — the flotsam and jetsam of historical currents. The men who radically altered history, the great scientists and mathematicians, are seldom mentioned, if at all.” — Martin Gardner

    Liked by 2 people

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