orld history is one of my current interests. I have been collecting books on various histories like history of fashion, music, the world, cotton, science, religion, so on and so forth for the past few years.
I just finished reading a book on world history by E.H Gombrich, ‘a little history of the world’ – this is one book I read from cover to cover and finished in one sitting. For a change, it was short. It was readable. The narrative was conversational and at least an effort had been made to present some facts and not popular opinions on world events. However, again, here the author’s personal bias couldn’t help but creep in. It recounts history from the beginning of humanity to the First World War. It’s supposed to be for kids but adults can read it too. Originally it was written in German but my copy is in English and apparently was translated by the author himself in English.
I find most books on world history (and even current affairs!) unsatisfactory. I have been trying to find a single book (on world history) that just presents facts from beginning of humanity’s origins on this planet to present day – talking about various civilizations – objectively. Unfortunately, the search still continues. What I have noticed about various books on world history is this:
Bottom line, history is a story, commissioned by the elite minority group to hoodwink and exploit the silent helpless majority, the story is always about three categories of people – the first category: the elite (in olden times, the royalty or church leaders and now decision makers or world leaders or in other words, the management or people with power), the second category of people or character in this story are those who serve the elite’s interests, (in olden times, the ministers or feudal lords, now bureaucracy or middle management or people who serve people with the real power and money) and final and third category of people in this story are the silent majority only intent on survival, the producers (and consumers) in various professions who need to earn a living (in olden times, slaves, serfs, farmers, laborers, or the workers, artisans and craftspeople, now, about the same minus the demeaning labels).
If you look at the overall pattern derived from world history, you would notice that elite and their bureaucracy are always trying to maintain the status quo or their hold on the silent majority while the silent majority occasionally overthrows them and tries to bring equality which never lasts because status quo must be maintained at all costs so the elite and their bureaucracy prevail in the long run. In other words, exploitation of humanity (read: majority) by humanity (read: minority) for humanity (read: power, money, territory or self- interest of the minority) continues in this perpetual struggle to be on the top and remain on top of the food chain. No, the elite are never ‘of the people, by the people, for the people.” They are the Brahmins. By the way, I am using the term ‘elite’ loosely, they are not the best of humanity, they’re the most ruthless – the very stuff of ‘the Lord of the flies.’
It reminds me of Noam Chomsky’s words, he might be talking about the American society, but the principles he’s talking about are fairly universal, “There’s even a kind of compelling moral principle behind it. The compelling moral principle is that the mass of the public are just too stupid to be able to understand things. If they try to participate in managing their own affairs, they’re just going to cause trouble. Therefore, it would be immoral and improper to permit them to do this. We have to tame the bewildered herd, not allow the bewildered herd to rage and trample and destroy things. It’s pretty much the same logic that says that it would be improper to let a three-year-old run across the street. You don’t give a three-year-old that kind of freedom because the three-year-old doesn’t know how to handle that freedom. Correspondingly, you don’t allow the bewildered herd to become participants in action. They’ll just cause trouble.”
And, “The people in the public relations industry aren’t there for the fun of it. They’re doing work. They’re trying to instill the right values. In fact, they have a conception of what democracy ought to be: It ought to be a system in which the specialized class is trained to work in the service of the masters, the people who own the society. The rest of the population ought to be deprived of any form of organization, because organization just causes trouble.”
And, “There are growing domestic social and economic problems, in fact, maybe catastrophes. Nobody in power has any intention of doing anything about them. If you look at the domestic programs of the administrations of the past ten years—I include here the Democratic opposition—there’s really no serious proposal about what to do about the severe problems of health, education, homelessness, joblessness, crime, soaring criminal populations, jails, deterioration in the inner cities— the whole raft of problems. You all know about them, and they’re all getting worse.”
And, “In such circumstances you’ve got to divert the bewildered herd, because if they start noticing this they may not like it, since they’re the ones suffering from it. Just having them watch the Superbowl and the sitcoms may not be enough. You have to whip them up into fear of enemies. In the 1930s Hitler whipped them into fear of the Jews and gypsies. You had to crush them to defend yourselves. We have our ways, too. Over the last ten years, every year or two, some major monster is constructed that we have to defend ourselves against. There used to be one that was always readily available: The Russians. You could always defend yourself against the Russians. But they’re losing their attractiveness as an enemy, and it’s getting harder and harder to use that one, so some new ones have to be conjured up. So it was international terrorists and narco-traffickers and crazed Arabs… They’ve got to keep coming up one after another. You frighten the population, terrorize them, intimidate them so that they’re too afraid to travel and cower in fear. That’s one of the ways in which you can keep the bewildered herd from paying attention to what’s really going on around them, keep them diverted and controlled.”
And finally, “The issue is much broader. It’s whether we want to live in a free society or whether we want to live under what amounts to a form of self-imposed totalitarianism, with the bewildered herd marginalized, directed elsewhere, terrified, screaming patriotic slogans, fearing for their lives and admiring with awe the leader who saved them from destruction, while the educated masses goosestep on command and repeat the slogans they’re supposed to repeat and the society deteriorates at home.”
From ‘Media Control, the spectacular achievements of Propaganda,’ 1997, by Noam Chomsky
Yes, history keeps repeating itself and the ‘bewildered herd’ never learns.