The last entry in this serious will explore one of the deeper and more important uses of history.
“History is written by the victor” is an oft-used maxim. It is opposition to this, that true history must find its way.
History is far more then the simple recording of the past. History is an investigation into the past and no case is ever fully closed. It is a vast and gigantic detective story, and historians play the central role. It is those that study history that have taken upon themselves the responsibility to try and breath away the gloom surrounding much of our past.
History is a subject that can make or break reputations, make lies fact and make the factual disappear. It is a discipline like so many others that can be manipulated and abused for selfish ends, for propaganda, for aggrandisement, for personal gain. Far too much of our past, every part of the past really, has been left in the hands of recorders with motives far below the acceptable standard.
You should study history in order to combat this mutilation of the past. So much history today is done in order to re-examine facets of past that have been previously held as airtight, above scrutiny. History is not set in stone, it is as fluid as anything else. New evidence, new appraisals, newly discovered sources can all be utilised in order to provide a better, clearer image if the past.
It is up to the historian to do this and it is no simple task. You are investigating events and people that may have taken place before the written word existed in some cases. But it is noble work in its way.
History, when done right, when done as it is intended to be, is all of the things that I have previously described. But at its heart, it is a search for the truth. It is the medium by which we uncover the facts about the past, making it as incontrovertible as possible. It is the medium by which we discover lies and falsehood, propaganda and distortion, and remove them from the equation. The subject and the field that it encapsulates is so vast that the task will never be complete, and large parts of history are lost in the mire. Those that study the field are fighting a war against a tide, and many of them are doing a poor job.
But the work continues. If you feel that you can add to this work, if you feel that the discovery of the historical reality is worthwhile, if you think that finding out the truth of past is something that should be done, then you should study history.
I wrote this short series as a way to inform about my own personal choices, and also, admittedly, as a self-justification. I hope that I have succeeded. To scroll through any of the past entries in this series, click here.