Dividing America: The African Slave Trade
One of the more unfortunate comments ever made by Winston Churchill is that ‘history is written by the victors.’
It might be taken to suggest – as it has been all too often in our day – that the entire enterprise of recording, studying, and teaching history can be explained according to a narrative of power politics. Insinuating this base motivation is worthy of the masters of the hermeneutic of suspicion ranging from Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud on down to Michel Foucault.
It suggests that the “winners” of history use their power to manipulate the past to attain their present-day goals. This ignores the fact that while propaganda certainly exists in despotic regimes, people both write, study, and teach history in order to learn from the past. It is their act of piety towards the past, and service to the present.
The notion that history is only written by the winners is part of the Whig reading of history and its notion of progress that has been picked up by the very people who would destroy it: the Cultural Marxists, the Levellers of our day, who aim not at understanding the past, but disrupting the present.
It is certainly true that they teach history out of a motive of power. The slave narrative that Cultural Marxists present has been hugely effective in fomenting divisions.
It is all the more effective “as a propaganda cudgel because its historical suppositions are largely valid: millions of black Africans were kidnapped, brutalized and worked to death in horrendous environments to service the greed of whites. But, as with all Progressive narratives, designed as they are to induce societal instability rather than to beget enlightenment, the story is slyly selective of details.”
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