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Monday, April 11, 2005

Speaking of empire and resistance

"In the West, since the collapse of Communism and the fall of the Soviet Union, the one discipline both the official and unofficial have united in casting aside is history. It's as if history has been subversive. The past has too much knowledge embedded in it, and therefore it's best to forget it and start anew. But as everyone is discovering, you can't do that to history; it refuses to go away. If you try and suppress it, it re-emerges in a horrific fashion. That's essentially what's been going on."

Tariq Ali, Speaking of Empire and Resistance, published today by Scribe.


Blogger Mike Jericho said...

Mr Ali needs to read history the way it ought to be read - objectively.

Of course, all historians (professional or armchair) move through the 'outrage phase'. It's natural to be upset by what awful things have been done by humanity to humanity.

However, the worst thing one can then do is continue their observation of history in a way which tends to maintain the original (rather selective) anger and abhorrence. The sheer amount of polemical history texts out there make this (sadly) often unavoidable.

If one does remain objective, however, one reaches a conclusion which is quite inescapable; humanity as a species just isn't very nice, and no one people or nation-state has the monopoly on that unpleasantness.

Mr Ali would have us believe that most of the horrors can be laid at the American's and Israeli's doorstep. It just isn't so. Yes, of course, both nations have been naughty. Murderously so. But then, so has every other nation, people, race or creed at any given time - and always in proportion to its projectable force (we can all agree that the Nazis, the USSR and China went more than a little beyond theirs, however).

It's one of the great stumbling blocks for leftist historians when they realize this, because out of all the world's great powers, from Persia onwards, no other power has been as able to project its will militarily as the USA now can, yet done it so seldom. The same can be said for Israel, whose military (if it so wished) could easily overcome those of its regional rivals.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 8:02:00 am  

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