The Intellectual Paucity of Historians
The other day – Good God, has it been three weeks already? – I wrote what was probably the worst post I’ve ever tossed up on this blog. It was utter speculative nonsense, with no solid bases in Historical Fact, I made no real attempt to cite anything in it, and despite it’s High Probability of Truth it’s nothing to be proud of.
But you see, I had an ulterior motive in posting it; I am now going to use it as a vehicle to point out the intellectual paucity of most Historians.
Back in the day, I made the Mistake of taking History at University. This is part of the reason I feel sympathy for the Occupussies, and it helped lead to the present Disgust I feel with the post-secondary shysters.
You see, here’s the thing; History ought not to be a joke-degree.
English is pure subjectivity; Art History is a minor at best; Sociology, PoliSci, and all their associated minors are nothing Ideology masquerading as Analysis. But History? When it’s done right, it’s a Science.
A handicapped Science, granted – there is certainly a deficit of experimentation – but when practiced professionally it involves data-collection and observation, hypothesization (which is then compared to new data), and finally theory. The goal of history is to try and understand these aggregate-patterns that us oversexed chimps fall into, to develop a heuristic which informs us as to what data is relevant to the trends underway, and how to interpret the biases of ancient authors (and through those, realize which contemporary biases are informing us today). There’s a lot of muddling, sure – but in the end, it’s a pursuit of an Objective Truth.
That’s the theory, anyway.
Let me tell you about my sister. She wears the Mantle of the Feminist, while living the life of a Traditional Housewife. Her husband’s a blue-collar Man’s Man, her children are well-disciplined and intelligent, she’s an amazing cook…
…and she insists on doing joke-degrees part-time. Her current favourite is History.
So over the Christmas break, I tried to have a civil conversation with her; I shared the naescent hypothesis I wrote about last time, fully aware of her massive Hate-On for all things militaristic. I figured a Historical Hypothesis which was anti-military (or at least, anti-joining-the-military-service) would acclimate well with her neural patterns. However, before I could finish speaking she said-
“I think you have a very naive view of History.”
Rather than pointing out I had two years of Official Training over her, I responded with an articulate “Um, what?”
“When has war ever accomplished anything?”
“Alexander took over the known world.”
“And then his empire crumbled!”
“…Cleopatra had white skin because of him; he reshaped all of those regions.” She snorted. “Well, then what about Rome? They re-wrote the pagan religions, spread a common language to all of Europe, built a system of highways, spread Christianity, and unified Europe into a common culture.”
“The Germans took them out!”
“800 years after it was founded!”
“Whatever, you’re just a war monger – and I’m a History Student!” At which point she stormed off.
This is why I tend to avoid family get-togethers.
Modern History isn’t about trying to understand our roots, or document the great events and turning points, or to understand the human condition; rather, the Modern Historian – like all of her sisters in the Dept. of Useless Degrees – already knows what The Truth is (after all, if Stephen J Gould and Noam Chompsky said it, it must be true!). They have their Paradigm, their End Of History State, and if the facts contradict either of those – well, the facts must be biased!
It’s a sorry state of affairs.
Back in the early days of the War on Terror, when I was fledging Free Market Leftist, the schools weren’t quite so bad. Nowadays Academia has been seeping in Leftist Juices for so long that well-known, and thoroughly proven Facts are Evil & Racist (even amongst STEM degrees majors!), but back then there was still a bit of critical thought going on…
A very little bit.
When I finally dropped out it wasn’t because of the incompetent professors (though I had more than a few of those); it was because of the incompetent students.
With a few rare exceptions, the student-body in most of my classes were the non-thinking, non-questioning, maybe-I’ll-teach-high-school morons. Dull, doughy girls (and a few insipid, ballless boys) who sat still and wrote down every fact the Professor droned on about, without ever understanding the context; the Professor, for his part, uninspired by yet another Memorize and Regurgitate Student Body, simply skimmed the surface of the textbook.
What a contemptible lot they were.
The final straw was one professor used a BBC documentary to teach two-thirds of his classes during my final semester – I guess no-one ever told him that documentaries are entertainment, not education.
So that year I dropped out of University, quit the army, and moved out West. My only regret is not doing it sooner.
If there’s any young kids out there, fascinated by the Deeper Questions of Humanity – philosophy, history, literature – by all means, pursue those interests. Just don’t do it through the University System. Best case scenario, you’ll live like my sister – enjoying and obeying all the dictates of the Patriarchy, while putting on airs of being a fashionable Leftist. More likely, however, you’ll wind up impoverished, protesting a corporation for something they didn’t do.
Either way, you’ll remain ignorant, and you might even develop mental blocks against True Errudition.
I’ve learned more on my own, and through the Internet, than I ever did as a student. You should only pay for education if there’s a trade certificate and a job in it for you; if it’s wisdom you seek, then the only true path is the Life of the Autodidact.
Never forget – the Devil was the first Whig. In our modern world the Father of Lies is in charge of our Education. Don’t drink the koolaid.