One of the less desirable outcomes of the rise of pseudo-Marxist and supposedly left wing scholarship has been the fall of the so-called Great Man theory of history. History, we are told, is the study and grand movements of people and faceless impersonal forces. Individuals have been presented as unimportant. The traditional matter of history, the stories and tales of the race, have been disregarded.
No wonder people no longer seem to be interested. History is statistics, the mathematics of agricultural production and immigration figures. As any fule know, no-one's interested in maths.
Like physics, history has been presented as a science, the study of meat machines and what they do. Unlike most things Marxist, this may even be one that Marx would have approved of.
Marx believed in progress. He believed humanity evolved from lower political and economic states to higher, as from lower to higher biological states. He believed the bourgeois democratic state would lead inevitably to an eventual socialist state, via the dictatorship of the proletariat. Marx believed history progressed like clockwork, that this was unavoidable. And he was wrong.
He wasn't the only one. Come the twentieth century and a man called Herbert Butterfield, a historian, a writer of books including the Whig Interpretation of History. This was a critical tome, designed to attack the eponymous school of historical thought. The Whigs, he claimed, and the whig historians, looked at history and saw a progress from lower to higher, the stately progress and ascent of man from the brute beasts to our own heavenly and exalted state, specifically the highest achievements of humanity: the perfect form of government in the person of the then King Emperor of England and his ministers and parliament; the perfect religion in the high church Anglican confession; the perfect social order, that of an English county.
And now we think they were quaint. Even their name, the Whigs, has fallen by the wayside. Consequently Butterfield's book has followed them into the outer darkness of obscurity, but he was right. The name Whig is gone, the specifically whig aspects of their interpretation of history have been binned, history goes on. History still thinks of itself the same way, still thinks of the world the same way.
The church of England isn't as popular as it was. The monarchy isn't as popular as it was. The less said about parliament and the country scene the better. Kings die, crowns go on.
One Franny Fukuyama, Ender and Continuator of History. Seems like a bit of a footnote now, after 9/11 supposedly disproved his hypothesis, but his main point was that history has led to where we are now inevitably, progressively. That liberal democracy and capitalism are the pinacles of human achievement and will remain insurmountable, both beyond challenge and impossible of betterment.
All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
Most unpleasantly this has become the ruling orthodoxy of modern life and society. Not only inevitable but desirable. An evil system called meritocracy has conquered the minds of men. Ironically the fall of a history based on the individual has led to a present the conception of which is dominated by narrow and selfish interests.
Man makes himself. Even those things we think of as nature are second nature, things we have picked up after birth, as the otter, wettest of rodents, has to be taught to swim and to overcome a natural aversion to water.
A man whose mind has been fertilised with the stories of his past may base himself upon the heroes of his lineage and nation, someone treated like a meat machine will think of himself as a meat machine. A vehicle for that smallest of free marketeers, the selfish gene.
Everything is alleged to be a function of the free market. The field of microeconomics came about to give pseudoacademic rationalisations to what was previously considered common sense. The actions of individuals were measured by game theory, a theory designed by a paranoid schizophrenic to describe the actions and motivations of humanity and only adhered to by psychopaths and the crazed immoral race of economists.
Some problems present themselves with this theory, although facts rarely derail a friendly theory. Those economic phenomenae known as barriers to the market, long forbidden by various international treaty, are supposedly counter to the doctrine of self-interest. International treaties, by this interpretation are in place to save peoples from themselves. Peoples who are remarkably ungrateful. Democracy, the holy self-government of the people, consistently provides obstacles ot the movements of the market. If all things were functions of the market this would be no problem, people acting collectively to withhold their labour, the boycott products or to bring about redistributive taxation would merely be seen as joining together to strengthen their market power, to bring about what they wanted at a price they are willing to pay, for universal health care for example. But some bargains and transactions are market, some aren't.
The ones that aren't are those which don't fit the idea some try to put across of the relations between people. If someone becomes a blackleg and betrays his union during a strike it's his self-interest. If someone tries to protect his job by joining a strike it's an obstruction and impediment to the market.
The anti-democratic activities of the plutocrat represent the real distortion of the market.
Meritocracy, so-called, doesn't describe how things are but how it is convenient to pretend they are. Those who attain positions of power through deceit and proceed to use their power to commit theft, such as MPs, pretend they are the most deserving in society. Nothing is so distasteful as to hear someone complaining that if he wasn't so well paid we would face the terrible hardship of making do with a lesser individual in the role. All the more distasteful to hear such rubbish from those whose position gives them power indepedent of wealth, such as MPs.
A healthy recompense, and here the facts will bare me out, doesn't have the psychological impact its beneficiaries would like the believe. To misuse a metaphor, wages above a subsistence level aren't filling a pot but lighting, and fueling, a fire. Greed, in this case, rather than the lust for knowledge.
The word was coined by Michael Young, writer behind the election manifesto of the Labour party in 1945. He had intended his satire "The Rise of the Meritocracy" to be a warning to the future. The future obligingly neglected it. The word caught on with the ignorant and malevolently inclined, though.
As we can now see real history isn't the story of progression ever upwards to the system most desirable to the rulers of today. History is a weapon. As Orwell said, those who control the past control the present.
A weapon in the class war. The eternal war. The one they try to convince us isn't happening. We, you see, are cattle.
Fort: I suspect that, after all, we're useful -- that among contesting claimants, adjustment has occurred, or that something now has a legal right to us, by force, or by having paid out analogues of beads for us to former, more primitive, owners of us -- all others warned off -- that all this has been known, perhaps for ages, to certain ones upon this earth, a cult or order, members of which function like bellwethers to the rest of us, or as superior slaves or overseers, directing us in accordance with instructions received -- from Somewhere else -- in our mysterious usefulness.
Yes, I don't doubt. Also, the blue ones. Clever man, that Fort. And Shaver. Vermin from Space. Different matter, maybe later.
War, not what one expects between sheep and wolf. Too one sided. But us, very dangerous herd. Most dangerous game. Even angels scared. More scared of use than we are of them, even though we haven't got stings. Nobel prize. Economic one, not even a proper nobble. Not that the real ones are better.
I think there are some who realise that humanity provides food. I think that they eat our adulation. I think shaven-headed Britney was a milk maid. From us she extracted what her masters feed upon. I think there is something which uses us for their power, and uses its power to keep us down, with the help of its overseers. No doubt the overseers see such power and join the brotherhood fo the brown trouser. They haven't got stings, or at least not that they know of. So, they decide, better to be a master in hell than a servant in heaven. It is our manifest destiny, you see, to be foodstuffs. Everyone is after us. We must be really important.
Vox pop, vox dei. The voice of the people is the voice of God. The breath of God animates man. The Word of God became man.