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1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress 
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Post 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
This opening chapter presents a tragic picture of the first contact between Europe and America. The noble peaceful friendly generous savages of the Bahamas were enslaved, exploited, murdered and exterminated, as part of the Spanish lust for gold.

I read this story against the framework of deep time, looking at how this appalling incident sits against the sweep of human cultural evolution since the Neolithic.

The essential fact here is that Eurasia has had metal based economies for thousands of years. This technological advance meant that the clash with the stone based economies of the Americas and Australia was bound to be a matter of grief and incomprehension.

The intense competitiveness driven by European war between nation states meant that Columbus was just applying the same mentality to the Bahamas as the Spanish applied to its other wars in Europe. The discovery of the inability of the people of the new world to fight back on anything like an even basis meant that initially the result was extreme slaughter.



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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
I changed the thread title to match Chapter 1 because it's about much more than Columbus. Zinn compares Columbus' tactics to many other assaults on indigenous people and notes genocidal similarities. He contrasts his own approach to history to others: Where others completely bury or briefly dismiss genocide (mistakes and progress were made), Zinn will focus on the slaughter as well as those who are spared, but remain severely disadvantaged. Some of these themes are similar to our discussion of Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - by Jared Diamond. Zinn also ponders why genocide and human progress are perceived to be intertwined.



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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
"History is written by the winners." attributed to Adolf Hitler.

In reading this first chapter, I was reminded of how Eurocentric the history I learned in elementary and high school (during the 1940s and '50s) was. We learned about the Americas, Africa and Asia (with the exceptions of Egypt and the Fertile Cresecent) only in terms of the "discovery" and "exploration" (or should I say exploitation) of these lands by the European powers. Yes, Zinn is also biased in his presentation, but he admits to this bias early on in Chapter 1. I may add more comments to this chapter later as I read further, but for now it is a very interesting read.


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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
Cattleman wrote:
"History is written by the winners." attributed to Adolf Hitler.

In reading this first chapter, I was reminded of how Eurocentric the history I learned in elementary and high school (during the 1940s and '50s) was. We learned about the Americas, Africa and Asia (with the exceptions of Egypt and the Fertile Cresecent) only in terms of the "discovery" and "exploration" (or should I say exploitation) of these lands by the European powers. Yes, Zinn is also biased in his presentation, but he admits to this bias early on in Chapter 1. I may add more comments to this chapter later as I read further, but for now it is a very interesting read.

That quote is from Churchill. This book can be viewed against Hegel's theory of history as a dialectic process of the evolution of ideas. A positive thesis, in this case Eurocentrism, over time gives rise, or gives way, to its negative antithesis, in this case the politically correct loathing of western civilisation. Then gradually the dialogue between these extremes produces an integrating synthesis, balancing the perceptions of both the positive and negative accounts.


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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
Because when this book came out, and for some years after, there was a lot of commentary on Zinn's view of writing about history, it might be a good idea to look closely at how he describes his approach.
Quote:
It is not that the historian can avoid emphasis of some facts and
not of others. This is as natural to him as to the mapmaker, who, in
order to produce a usable drawing for practical purposes, must first
flatten and distort the shape of the earth, then choose out of the bewildering
mass of geographic information those things needed for the purpose
of this or that particular map.

The statement is most obviously true in the case of a one-volume history that Zinn is offering as an alternative to the ones commonly given to high school students. With so much to cover, clearly anyone's treatment must be selective and sketchy. One way to cut the job down to size is to focus on a single level, which in most cases has been the level of national politics, or of local events that turned out to be nationally important, such as those in Lexington and Concord in 1775. It's pretty much an impossible job to to do justice to the richness and complexity of the U.S. or any other country in one volume. Many books are longer than Zinn's but center on only a few years, or the career of one important figure. So I think that with his focus on the underdog and the oppressed, Zinn whittles down the task somewhat. A strong point of view can do that. He also rescues history writing meant for the general reader from the dullness it usually has--one damn war after another, as a wag once said.
Quote:
My argument cannot be against selection, simplification, emphasis,
which are inevitable for both cartographers and historians. But the
mapmaker's distortion is a technical necessity for a common purpose
shared by all people who need maps. The historian's distortion is more
than technical, it is ideological; it is released into a world of contending
interests, where any chosen emphasis supports (whether the historian
means to or not) some kind of interest, whether economic or political
or racial or national or sexual.

He seems to say that selection is inevitably distortion. Whether he applies this rule to his own writing here, as it seems he should, is unclear. The guise of objectivity that the professional historian assumes is just that, a failed attempt to obfuscate the historian's own unacknowledged interests and the fact that when he releases his findings to the world, they attach to all sorts of political interests (Zinn's view, not necessarily mine).
Quote:
Furthermore, this ideological interest is not openly expressed in
the way a mapmaker's technical interest is obvious ("This is a Mercator
projection for long-range navigation-for short-range, you'd better use
a different projection"). No, it is presented as if all readers of history
had a common interest which historians serve to the best of their ability.
This is not intentional deception; the historian has been trained in a
society in which education and knowledge are put forward as technical
problems of excellence and not as tools for contending social, classes,
races, nations.

He says that although historians want us to think they are only wielding tools they were arduously trained in, they do not escape the ideological nature of their work. They again want us to believe they have succeeded, through "education and knowledge," in objectively viewing the past, but they are serving the interests of their own class nonetheless. Historians unwittingly provide fodder for a welter of competing parties at all levels of society. Perhaps Zinn is suggesting that historians should openly engage socially and politically, as he did in his career. Zinn, although a Ph.D from Columbia in history, is viewed as having more of an activist than a historian career. I would very strongly disagree with him if he means to downplay the "tools of excellence" that are integral to a historians's training. Without these being at the center of the discipline, well, there is no discipline at all.
Quote:
To emphasize the heroism of Columbus and his successors as navigators
and discoverers, and to deemphasize their genocide, is not a
technical necessity but an ideological choice. It serves-unwittingly to
justify what was done.

He is referring to his mention of Samuel Elliot Morrison's summary of Columbus. Morrison gives one line to Columbus's genocide, but he chose to expand on his skills, indomitable will, and faith in God (!). In Zinn's mind, the selection betrays Morrison's own class interests. Do I agree with Zinn? I do in part, but if the historian will inevitably distort, as Zinn believes, that doesn't mean that the whole of every conventional historian's work is tainted. And to be fair, Zinn doesn't actually say that. It might come down to whether it's more important to detail the history of thousands or millions killed, or to slight this history by following the history of the influential, mainstream victors. I don't think that doing the latter condones the evil that went on, though.



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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
I don't recall Zinn accusing Morrison of "class interests". Rather, the clash is about values and philosophy. Communists have analysed this clash in class interest terms, as a monolithic theory of value, reducing culture to economics.


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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
Robert Tulip wrote:
I don't recall Zinn accusing Morrison of "class interests". Rather, the clash is about values and philosophy. Communists have analysed this clash in class interest terms, as a monolithic theory of value, reducing culture to economics.

But a difference in values and philosophy due to what? "Class interests" has a Marxist tone I don't intend, but don't professional historians in Zinn's view most often identify with the winners such as Columbus and leave out most of the story of those sacrificed in the name of progress?



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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
DWill wrote:
But a difference in values and philosophy due to what?
Values are moral assessments about what is good and bad. One of the big clashes of values in historiography is between the great man theory of history and economic reductionism.

If we see historical change as primarily a function of genius, will and personal initiative of great men, our values will be very different from people who see change as a function of material forces. This difference is seen clearly in the debate between Hegel’s dialectical idealism and Marx’s dialectical materialism, with Marx rejecting the personal agency of leaders as what he called an ‘epiphenomenon’, a byproduct of the real economic forces that he thought create events.

Columbus is viewed as a great man by conservative history. His discovery of America is seen as the product of will, and as the positive enabler for the creation of the modern world. The contrasting materialist view was summarised by Marx’s statement that all history is the history of class struggle, a view that Zinn looks sympathetic to.
DWill wrote:
"Class interests" has a Marxist tone I don't intend, but don't professional historians in Zinn's view most often identify with the winners such as Columbus and leave out most of the story of those sacrificed in the name of progress?
I am not sure that Zinn is speaking so much about the history profession in his comment about how history identifies with the victors. Many historians are critical and analytic, interested in rigorous sorting of facts, rather than propagating political agendas.

Zinn's critique applies more to popular history, the story or myth of the nation as it appears in school textbooks and mass media portrayals, which aim to inculcate patriotism, loyalty, nationalism, and admiration for the achievements of great men, encouraging people to try to emulate the values of leaders who made the nation great.

Here of course we find the echo of Mr Trump’s Make America Great Again philosophy, his view that collectivism destroys personal initiative and pride, and that individuals should copy the entrepreneurs of capitalism to make business the engine of growth, displacing the central role of the state, in a return to values of a previous era.

Critics say that Trump is just reflecting class interests, and deceiving his poor supporters. Supporters say that Trump is presenting a philosophy that also enables the poor to succeed, and is not just ruling for the rich.

With Columbus, as the original 'deplorable', it is clear that the suffering of Native Americans was a direct result of the European genocidal greedy invasion of the New World. And yet, without this invasion, the multi-trillion dollar scale of modern production could not have happened, and the Americas would have stayed in the stone age, without wheels, writing, smelting, or other modern technology.

By Zinn focusing on the emotional pain, destruction and evil of the moment of contact, the whole creative destruction that enabled modernity is impugned. The value system of class analysis is behind this focus on suffering, and encourages people to see themselves as belonging to a collective group with the only action as solidarity. The contrasting value system sees people as individuals who can defy the world to transform situations. This clash of values was in stark relief in the recent Presidential election, and helps to explain the collective fury towards President Trump.


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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
Quote:
Was all this bloodshed and deceit - from Columbus to Cortés, Pizarro, the Puritans - a necessity for the human race to progress from savagery to civilization? Was Morison right in burying the story of genocide inside a more important story of human progress? Perhaps a persuasive argument can be made - as it was made by Stalin when he killed peasants for industrial progress in the Soviet Union, as it was made by Churchill explaining the bombings of Dresden and Hamburg, and Truman explaining Hiroshima. But how can the judgment be made if the benefits and losses cannot be balanced because the losses are either unmentioned or mentioned quickly?

That quick disposal might be acceptable ("Unfortunate, yes, but it had to be done") to the middle and upper classes of the conquering and "advanced" countries. But is it acceptable to the poor of Asia, Africa, Latin America, or to the prisoners in Soviet labor camps, or the blacks in urban ghettos, or the Indians on reservations - to the victims of the progress which benefits a privileged minority in the world?

...If there are necessary sacrifices to be made for human progress, it is not essential to hold to the principle that those to be sacrificed must make the decision themselves? We can all decide to give up something of ours, but do we have the right to throw into the pyre the children of others, or even our own children, for a progress which is not nearly as clear or present as sickness or health, life or death?
p. 17

These vital questions are rarely explored. In his last two paragraphs, Mr. Tulip appears to take the side that yes, bloodshed and deceit are indeed required for human progress and goes further, claiming that just examining evil that takes place "impugns" the inevitable march of progress. Presumably he agrees that repressing stories of genocide and abuse are required to maintain the sunny façade of progress.

This is a false dichotomy. When the English arrived in North America, they didn't know what they were doing and were starving. They could have requested help, cooperated, and negotiated more peaceful terms. A devastating coast to coast invasion including the massive importation of slaves was not required to transfer technology in both directions. But being so arrogant they were unable to treat the Indians as anywhere near equal and were incapable of abiding by the terms of their own agreements.
Quote:
In the North American English colonies, the pattern was set early, as Columbus had set it in the islands of the Bahamas. In 1585, before there was any permanent English settlement in Virginia, Richard Grenville landed there with seven ships. The Indians he met were hospitable, but when one of them stole a small silver cup, Grenville sacked and burned the whole Indian village.
p. 12

And so continued the genocide for well over a hundred years... We must examine history fearlessly in order to learn.



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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
Robert Tulip wrote:
am not sure that Zinn is speaking so much about the history profession in his comment about how history identifies with the victors. Many historians are critical and analytic, interested in rigorous sorting of facts, rather than propagating political agendas.

Zinn's critique applies more to popular history, the story or myth of the nation as it appears in school textbooks and mass media portrayals, which aim to inculcate patriotism, loyalty, nationalism, and admiration for the achievements of great men, encouraging people to try to emulate the values of leaders who made the nation great.

Popular history is created by the historians who are accorded the role of spokesman for their subject, people such as Samuel Eliot Morison. "In that inevitable taking of sides which comes from selection and emphasis," historians who tell about the past "from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders" have controlled the agenda. Of course, many historians, especially since the 1960s, have written in opposition to the rosy scenario of heroism, but at the time when Zinn is writing (1980), these views had not ever been made themes in a survey of U.S. history. Zinn proposed to change that, and judging by the success of his book, his message was one that Americans wanted to hear.

Quote:
With Columbus, as the original 'deplorable', it is clear that the suffering of Native Americans was a direct result of the European genocidal greedy invasion of the New World. And yet, without this invasion, the multi-trillion dollar scale of modern production could not have happened, and the Americas would have stayed in the stone age, without wheels, writing, smelting, or other modern technology.

"Deplorable" for a completely different reason from the one conceived by HRC. I suppose your point about the inevitability of the change to a modern capitalist economy would be generally conceded, but then most would still want to object to the terrorism and brutality employed. What can we do but "deplore" that human beings can be such evil bastards and sometimes be called great despite that, or even because of it. Zinn says what most would also agree with, that technological backwardness doesn't justify wanton murder and mutilation. He rightly says that other features of the native cultures that were destroyed place them ahead of the master cultures, features such as few class distinctions, less sexism, even democratic process.
Quote:
By Zinn focusing on the emotional pain, destruction and evil of the moment of contact, the whole creative destruction that enabled modernity is impugned. The value system of class analysis is behind this focus on suffering, and encourages people to see themselves as belonging to a collective group with the only action as solidarity. The contrasting value system sees people as individuals who can defy the world to transform situations. This clash of values was in stark relief in the recent Presidential election, and helps to explain the collective fury towards President Trump.

Surely you don't mean to include the destruction of human beings in this capitalist creative destruction. The terror went well beyond "the moment of contact," as well. But what you might be getting at is the purpose of Zinn's wanting to let us in the stuff that has been sanitized away. He says that he doesn't wish to try leaders in absentia or ramp up our sense of collective guilt. What he wants to do is something that academic historiography would shun: make it the job of history to serve society by showing how we have been better people and can be in the future.
Quote:
If history is to be creative, to anticipate a possible
future without denying the past, it should, I believe, emphasize new
possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even
if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together,
occasionally to win. I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our
future may be found in the past's fugitive moments of compassion rather
than in its solid centuries of warfare.
That, being as blunt as I can, is my approach to the history of
the United States. The reader may as well know that before going
on.

Robert, you might have viewed a different U.S. election than I did. You certainly see a Donald Trump unfamiliar to me.



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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
LanDroid wrote:
Mr. Tulip appears to take the side that yes, bloodshed and deceit are indeed required for human progress and goes further, claiming that just examining evil that takes place "impugns" the inevitable march of progress.
My statement was “By Zinn focusing on the emotional pain, destruction and evil of the moment of contact, the whole creative destruction that enabled modernity is impugned.” ‘Impugn’ means “dispute the truth, validity, or honesty of (a statement or motive); call into question.” It seems clear that a focus on evil events does call into question the motives of the agents of conquest and the overall legitimacy of systems built upon genocide, impugning the capitalist system as morally bereft.

Whether that critical deconstruction of empire is a good thing is not a simple question. Politically, the usual inference drawn from this impugning of systems of mass exploitation is that these systems should be replaced by methods that have higher respect for the rights and dignity of the poor. Unfortunately that is not so easy. Some people imagine that subsistence peasantry is a better lifestyle than factory work. And yet the poor of China and many other countries show clear preference for the cash income of industrial labour, despite the regimented and unsafe conditions. Political activists focus on stoking resentment about negative aspects of change, while often ignoring positive aspects of how economic growth provides opportunity. Finding a settled balanced viewpoint is not easy.

This debate is in sharp relief in Australia, with the 250th anniversary in 2020 of the 1770 discovery of New South Wales by Captain Cook, when he claimed sovereignty over Australia for the king of England. ‘Captain Cook’ is often used by aborigines as a metaphor for everything bad about white society and its celebration of invasion. Meanwhile Cook remains a hero for the white settler society, as an intrepid adventurer and scientist whose heroism and brilliance as a representative of modern enlightenment opened Australia to contact with the emerging global trading system.

If England had not invaded Australia and the USA, then France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and even Japan and China were nearly ready. Like in the Americas, the stone age economy supporting a tiny population could not compete against the industrial systems of the modern world, and aboriginal people were viewed with disdain and incomprehension by colonists due to their primitive technology and simple social organisation without kings and armies.

That does not justify deceit, although there is the famous comment from the Sioux Chief Red Cloud that ‘the white man made many promises but only kept one, they promised to take our land and they took it.’ The economic driver for the westward expansion of the frontier was too great for moral sentiment of restraint to be effective.
LanDroid wrote:
Presumably he agrees that repressing stories of genocide and abuse are required to maintain the sunny façade of progress.
Far from it. I hold to the core Christian principle that the last are first in the kingdom of God. Progress can only retain a mandate of legitimacy through a rigorous and transparent accountability, honouring the suffering of the oppressed. Façades serve to conceal and promote corruption. What I would like to repress is the attitude of resentment that uses stories of genocide as rent-seeking bargaining chips, so the descendants of the murdered learn to live on inter-generational social welfare instead of participating in the broader society on an equal basis. The Bible says that trauma is inter-generational. Overcoming trauma requires forgiveness and reconciliation, which in turn require repentance, with the guilty admitting and understanding their error and exhibiting genuine sorrow. Too often the political movements of reconciliation and recognition are captured by leftist ideology, using the poor and deprived as pawns by fomenting hostility in ways that destroy potential for equal participation in the modern economy.
LanDroid wrote:
This is a false dichotomy. When the English arrived in North America, they didn't know what they were doing and were starving. They could have requested help, cooperated, and negotiated more peaceful terms. A devastating coast to coast invasion including the massive importation of slaves was not required to transfer technology in both directions. But being so arrogant they were unable to treat the Indians as anywhere near equal and were incapable of abiding by the terms of their own agreements.
There is something depraved about the settler ideology. That should not surprise, given the first point of the Calvinist Puritan Tulip acrostic http://www.reformationtheology.com/2013 ... ummary.php believed by the Mayflower pilgrims was Total Depravity, meaning a radical corruption encompassing all of human life as a result of the fall from grace. The Puritans themselves were gripped by this psychotic delusion of depravity, which produced a radical alienation from indigenous culture as beyond the pale of civilised property and propriety. That attitude of separation made the cooperative model you describe psychologically impossible. Zinn mentions the extreme opprobrium meted to settlers who fraternised with Indians as equals, or who recognised that Indians were happier than the conformist city with its imagined light on the hill. Again, it is reasonable to ask if the USA could have achieved the world leading manifest destiny that providence has bestowed if its founders had lacked this narrow manic discipline.
LanDroid wrote:
And so continued the genocide for well over a hundred years... We must examine history fearlessly in order to learn.
Genocide of indigenous people continued physically until recent times, and continues as cultural genocide today. I know it seems a radical challenge to question the secular saints of the age of discovery such as Columbus and Cook, and yet we should also have the courage to enquire about the political implications of this revaluation. Communists were able to rely on this mass resentment of what Lenin called ‘Imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism’ to trick people into accepting dictatorship by a clique, with complete destruction of private property rights and freedom of speech and thought. Stalin and Mao were greater mass murderers than Hitler. So yes, be fearless, but include a rigorous critique of the major anti-capitalist movements of world history alongside a balanced analysis of the frontier wars waged by the west.


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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
Robert Tulip wrote:
If England had not invaded Australia and the USA, then France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and even Japan and China were nearly ready. Like in the Americas, the stone age economy supporting a tiny population could not compete against the industrial systems of the modern world, and aboriginal people were viewed with disdain and incomprehension by colonists due to their primitive technology and simple social organisation without kings and armies.

And this reminds me of what an English friend said to me about colonial oppression under the British: You really would have had something to complain about if you'd been under the Spanish or the French! And truth be told, the British might have nurtured a republic into being.

You've wrestled with some tough complexities in your post and done it well. I become uncomfortable when I consider myself as the inheritor of a history that appalls me in some respects but has me as its beneficiary. Somewhere Yeats wrote about the violent men that came before him and did nasty work so that he could stand in a place of relative safety. It's always easy to take moral high ground when there's no cost to doing it.



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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
To Robert Tulip:

I have done further research on the quote "History is written by the winners/victors/conquerors." It has indeed been attributed to Churchill. It has also been attributed to Hitler, Napoleon, George Orwell, and even Dan Brown. Probably the original statement is lost in the mists of history.


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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
Cattleman wrote:
To Robert Tulip:

I have done further research on the quote "History is written by the winners/victors/conquerors." It has indeed been attributed to Churchill. It has also been attributed to Hitler, Napoleon, George Orwell, and even Dan Brown. Probably the original statement is lost in the mists of history.
Hi Cattleman, thanks for following up on this point about history being written by victors, which illustrates the paradoxical nature of Zinn’s effort to write history from the viewpoint of the losers, and of the Christian doctrine that the last are first in the kingdom of God.

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/447/n ... reed-upon/ provides a good and relevant discussion of Napoleon’s famous statement that history is just agreed myth. The view that failure to remember the past condemns us to repeat it, as said by Santayana and allegedly Churchill, conflicts with the purpose of school history to provide political indoctrination rather than accurate knowledge of the past.

These are difficult moral problems, since patriotism, national pride, loyalty, trust and belonging enable social identification, character and purpose. These moral values are promoted by positive messages about the national past, and undermined by negative history messages.

Rising empires are built on confidence about identity and direction. When an empire loses confidence in its identity and direction, it is on a path to collapse. Without what Napoleon called an agreed myth, or what the Psalmist called vision of divine law, or what Chinggis Khan called the eternal blue sky, or what Plato described as the noble lie of the golden age, or what Chinese history calls the mandate of heaven, a nation or people cannot freely hold together in a cultural and political sense.

The suspicion held by traditionalists toward negative history arises from a view that knowledge of facts is less important than national duty. When facts serve to cast duty into doubt, the traditional view is that the facts should be suppressed. Whether that view is good is a dilemma.

http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/history/ ... story.html has a lot of good quotes about history. Emerson said ‘’a man is a knot of roots whose flower and fruitage is the world.’ This sense of history as constructed by story, as the fruit of perceived connections, illustrates the mythological nature of meaning, with our horizon of care and concern exercising world-creating power.

Orwell’s comment in 1984 that those who control the present control the past and those who control the past control the future is another good paraphrase of the Churchill quote.


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Post Re: 1. Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress
Today I visited a rather crazy creepy place called New Norcia, in the remote outback of Western Australia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Norci ... _Australia
It made me think of this discussion, on Zinn’s deconstruction of the motives and myths surrounding the American colonial enterprise.

One of the great source writers for deconstruction is Friedrich Nietzsche, who inspired a famous phrase ‘the hermeneutics of suspicion’. What that means is that interpretation of claims people make in philosophy and history should be treated as suspect, due to the common tendency to distort.

The New Norcia wiki page explains that the Catholics settled this remote place in 1846, aiming to Christianise the natives. The issue at New Norcia, apart from its recent notoriety as the worst paedophile centre in Australia, is what motivated the Roman Catholic Church to establish this incredibly remote mission.

To my reading, it was probably less about Christianising Aborigines than protecting them from genocide. The southwest corner of Western Australia is now a wheat belt, and with expansion over the last century has become one of the most productive cereal production farming regions in the world. In the early nineteenth century, the local Aborigines stood in the way of this economic enterprise by British settlers.

By and large, the response to this impediment to productivity was murder, applying the dictum later made famous by Joseph Stalin, ‘no man no problem’. The need for an Aboriginal orphanage at New Norcia raises the question of why the parents had died. Australia had between one million and three million inhabitants in 1788, the year of British settlement. By Federation in 1901, the aboriginal population had fallen to 90,000, a reduction of more than 90%, mainly due to the combination of bullets and disease, in an unknown proportion.

Christian missions to Aborigines had an explicit motto of ‘smoothing the dying pillow’, meaning that White Australia assumed that Aborigines were so primitive they were destined for extinction. The policy known as ‘dispersal’ involved killing every Aboriginal who could be found in an area of agricultural promise, which is why the Aborigines surviving today are mainly from parts of Australia that were less attractive to white farmers. Since this dispersal policy upset liberal Londoners, it was conducted in secret.

There are many aspects of monastic life that promote psychological distortion. I have long thought that the monastic attitudes to the human body derived from Christian theology have an element of perversity, as does the overall Christian confusion between the literal and the symbolic. Mariolatry serves to reinforce that perversity with its paradoxical veneration of the virgin mother.

Placing such a medieval mentality in New Norcia, with a concealed motivation of picking up the pieces from a secret genocide, makes it hardly surprising that after a few generations the original saintly reasoning would be forgotten, and the missionaries would give way to misfits.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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