Left wing views & bias on history

Midas

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,129
Scandinavia, Balkans, Anatolia, Hatay
First of all, don't be provoked by the title.

Personally, I am quite apolitical yet ideologically close to the left.

So, what has been buffling me for many years is how history is treated by some people that belong polically to the left wing. I am not talking about political history specifically (leave that aside), but history in a broader sense. From countless discussions I have had with people, I noticed a reluctance to objectivity, tendency to exhageration and a general negativity towards history (like if it is a domain owned by the right wing).

I wonder if this is strictly something I have experienced explicitly or if it is a trend found across the world. I am trying to find a cause which popularizes certain views, if not taboos on history. Is it a way of opposing the right wing (where nationalists often dwell and feel they are holding the banners of "history"), that is to say riddicule things they would hold of value? I am really trying to understand what demonizes history in the eyes of some people.

So, what do you think? Anyone of you experienced the same?


PS: No political bashing please. I am not interested in that and will gladly ask a moderator to lock the thread if some people find a chance to take out their gall.
 
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Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,919
T'Republic of Yorkshire
It certainly isn't worldwide. History as taught in East Asia - and South East Asia, come to that, is closer to what you might call right wing. It is conservative and nationalistic, probably because it is dictated by government not by academia.
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
9,503
here
I wonder if it's because a lot of history talks about war, suffering, conquest, imperialism etc. Things that are thought to be bad in our supposed enlightened age. By that rationale, the only historical figures I can think of that aren't evil war mongers are Jesus and Buddha.

Thus, the study of history is the study and perhaps admiration of destructive peoples and their policies. Just my two cents.
 

Von Ranke

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
6,377
Thistleland
First of all, don't be provoked by the title.

Personally, I am quite apolitical yet ideologically close to the left.
How can you be apolitical and yet ideologically close to the left? Forgive me but it does sound like a contradiction in terms. For myself personally I prefer left wing historians like Christopher Hill and Eric Hobsbawm who take a Marxist approach to history. Century of Revolution and Bandits are books that try to explain the British civil war and the actions of criminal individuals such as Ned Kelly and Billy the Kid in a thematic structure rather than the sycophantic gibberish spoon fed to us by the likes of David Starkey, who promotes evil individuals like Henry VIII and Elizabeth I through the lens of hero worship rather than them simply being figureheads who promoted and represented the elite.
 
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PM96

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
4,676
California
Bias all depends on who's writing the story. As everyone has a bias of their own, and anyone can write, well I think that ultimately all views get some representation in this world of propaganda.
 

EmperorTigerstar

Ad Honorem
Jun 2013
6,398
USA
Both sides have bias.

Extreme left wing history/politics - Communist Manifesto

Extreme right wing history/politics - Mein Kampf
 
Sep 2013
1,082
Tokyo
Depends. British popular history tends to lean to the left.

WW1 is the prime example... aristocrats sending the working class to their deaths and all that nonsense.
 
Mar 2014
71
USA
Left wing history pespectives make good points, it's just a lot heavier on criticism, and the criticisms can sometimes be unfair and judges past moments based on present consciousness.

I would need an example to understand what you're talking about specifically though. The image in my head of what you're talking about is a bit over the top.
 

Midas

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,129
Scandinavia, Balkans, Anatolia, Hatay
It certainly isn't worldwide. History as taught in East Asia - and South East Asia, come to that, is closer to what you might call right wing. It is conservative and nationalistic, probably because it is dictated by government not by academia.
I agree.

I wonder if it's because a lot of history talks about war, suffering, conquest, imperialism etc. Things that are thought to be bad in our supposed enlightened age. By that rationale, the only historical figures I can think of that aren't evil war mongers are Jesus and Buddha.

Thus, the study of history is the study and perhaps admiration of destructive peoples and their policies. Just my two cents.
I think that is reason yes. For example, I never heard a detailed analysis on Alexander as the discussion starts with the word "imperialist" and then followed by political statements unrelated to his character.

How can you be apolitical and yet ideologically close to the left? Forgive me but it does sound like a contradiction in terms.

I hear that a lot, but why should it be a contradiction? You might share the basis of certain ideas, but dissagree on their implementation. You might aknowledge the existence of a problem, but dissagree on its treatment. Political ideas get often inspiration from philosophy and sociology, fields where I consider myself to dwell. Political thinkers though are good on their thing and I might be not adequate on those small details that matter in exopolitical fields. Also, I consider political though to have a problem syncing with the present, just like religions have. I want to see a movement taking things forward and as long as I don't see that, I don't see why I should choose to identify myself with any political ideology.


Bias all depends on who's writing the story. As everyone has a bias of their own, and anyone can write, well I think that ultimately all views get some representation in this world of propaganda.

Definetely! Everyone has their bias to some extend. It doesn't need to be political, it can be because of the fascination a historian has towards a personality, an era or ethnic group.


Left wing history pespectives make good points, it's just a lot heavier on criticism, and the criticisms can sometimes be unfair and judges past moments based on present consciousness.

I would need an example to understand what you're talking about specifically though. The image in my head of what you're talking about is a bit over the top.

Maybe, it depends on how I experienced it. It is in some cases over the top and it does definetely not represent the left wing in general.

Anyhow one recent example was discussing middle eastern issue with a friend who is rather educated. Somehow, he brought Egypt into the picture and said Egyptians got wiped out by the Arabs. Then I explained that the Arabs had better things to do that wiping out the Ancient Egyptians. Then I explained how unrealistic that was in historical terms and numbers. He finaly understood, but for a while there was a total negativity to the idea that Egyptians are actually Egyptians.

Another classical example that I mentioned above is Alexander. For me the discussion ends on the loop around "Imperialism", which makes it impossible to discuss any other aspect of his personality.