Once again history and historiography are in the limelight. One approach involves ‘a notion of trust between the generations’. We are not obliged to agree or approve/disapprove of past events; only to try and understand them. The other approach involves a re-writing of history in an attempt to impose a particular version of our present day society. Jeremy Black at The Critic Magazine looks at these two historical approaches, and argues that the notion of ‘collective white guilt’ – central to the second approach, cannot end well:
Distorting our knowledge and understanding of the past by making it a matter of good or bad is a reductionism that is lazy and crude and stupid and dangerous. Academics serving up explanation in terms of race are similarly reductionist and similarly stupid.
This is not about statues but a culture war, one in which the forces of illiberalism, intolerance and hatred brilliantly masquerade behind the call for righting the past and very much to the profit of a conceited and self-interested cadre of would-be revolutionaries; but do let them go first-class to their conferences, and remember that his/her title is Professor.