Thursday, February 24, 2005

Views of History

There are a good many views or interpretations of history, both of the world and of the United States. The common textbooks, both for secondary schools and tertiary schools (colleges) seldom present any of these views except for the one which the author has chosen. Yes, the events are the same (although which are covered and which are skipped are different), but the way we look at those events is really the important thing: history exists for us to learn from, to benefit from: otherwise, it is a waste of time. Interesting perhaps, but a waste of time.

Our interpretation of history is of course based on our viewpoint. A communist looks at history very much differently from a libertarian. Libertarian views of history, in fact, are very rare - most published views are those of statists, after all. It is important, though, to recognize the viewpoint of something we are reading or studying, even if we don't agree with the point of view; it is equally important to read history with a viewpoint other than our own (provided we realize that it is), to better understand history from our viewpoint.

In some cases, we change our point of view in general, and yet, it may take some time before we realize that has changed our point of view of history: yet if one happens, the other is necessary. Anyone who started their political life as a conservative or liberal (or any other kind of statist) who has become libertarian, is aware of this.

There are several good examples of libertarian points of view that are worth discussing, briefly:

"Hologram of Liberty" by Boston T. Party, a popular and yet private libertarian writer, presents a very different point of view of the United States Constitution and the growth and development of the Republic, one which might make even 100-100 (Nolan chart) libertarians want to throw the book across the room. His premise is simple, and he argues very well for it: that the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, was intentionally written as a flawed document which ALLOWS the explosion of government size and power that has taken place over the last 210+ years, and that those who wrote it knew exactly what their intentional flaws would lead to, because that was their goal.

A second view of history is illustrated by that other illustrious libertarian, Murray Rothbard. In a column he wrote 10 years ago, but recently republished at Lew Rockwell (see below), entitled "Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty" he pointed out the significant difference between conservatives (including neo-conservatives) and liberals (both classical and modern) in American history in the last century, and what that has done to freedom, not just in the United States, but for the entire world. In particular, he points out that the so-called "Populist" and "left-wing" introduction of various laws in the early 20th Century, regulating the trusts, labor, and introducing the income tax, were in reality supported by, and highly beneficial to the monopolistic "capitalists" of the era and since. He also traces the oddly contradictory classic liberal/libertarian roots of some of Russian (Leninist) communism, and the distinctions between National Socialism (Nazi) and International Communist Socialism (USSR).

Yet a third view of history (and one which many libertarians may find shocking, but which is a strong addition to the entire concept of liberty, as far as I am concerned) may be seen in the writings of Charles Kimball, found at the "Xenohistorian" site (again, see below). Mr. Kimball presents a view of history from a Christian and Biblical point of view, which views human government as a rebellion against God, and the traditional definitions of "civilization" (as contrasted to barbarianism or primitive cultures) as being intentionally biased in favor of this rebellious human government. He goes on to point out how an ugly but successful alliance of human government and false religion has dominated the world's history, but how there have been constant efforts and a gradual rollback of that alliance has taken place (and is continuing today).


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