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Author Topic: Most annoying historical myths?  (Read 17846 times)

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Offline Skynet

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #200 on: December 15, 2013, 12:24:01 AM »
So I've sort of been looking at some Marxist groups online, and while I'm not one of them, they do show up in pertinent issues I follow now and again (economic disparity, classism/racism/sexism/etc).

While there are some Marxists who genuinely care about fighting societal injustice, the level of tyrant apologia among them is really, really terrible.  Holodomir, the Great Leap Forward, gulags, Castro's human rights violations?  They're all capitalist lies, apparently.

It's particularly ironic when some of these Marxists (Stalinists) are pro-LGBT and self-described feminists, when Stalin actually regressed polices towards said people during his reign in the Soviet Union.

To counter it, at least there's some Communists who do realize that Stalin and co. did a lot of damage to the ideology and didn't practice what they preach, but they seem in the minority a lot of the time.

I'm not a right-winger, and I think that Karl Marx had a lot of pertinent criticism of capitalism... but the leaders of his ideology in future years did not live up to it, not by a long shot.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 12:25:04 AM by Skynet »

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #201 on: December 15, 2013, 01:52:45 AM »
The trouble is that communism is a great idea in theory. Who wouldn't agree that everybody gets a fair share of the resources? Unfortunately, mankind is ambitious. There's always going to be someone who wants better than those around him. So the ideal can only really be held together by totalitarian regimes, in my opinion. Of course, this is a complete contradiction of the ideologies of communism.

In conclusion, communism is a great theory of how society could function. But then again, so was the feudal system, and it only took one epidemic to wipe out that idea.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #202 on: December 15, 2013, 06:23:09 AM »
I don't think pointing to the failings of communist regimes in fields of human rights and so forth is enough to discredit communism as a whole, much less Marx's views. If it was, we'd only have to do the same thing to capitalist societies to entirely discredit capitalism, and where would that leave us? Stalinism is far from the only ideology, ah, loosely based on classical Marxism. There's nothing about Stalinism that really discredits Marx's theories, and I think you'd have a difficult time finding a political theorist more influential than Marx in the past couple of centuries. The fact his theories are only becoming more relevant as we have moved more and more toward a global capitalist system, just serves to underline this fact.

I think there's a tendency among typical westerners to exaggerate the evils of communism. The Soviet Union, Democratic Kampuchea and communist China - there are plenty of horrific examples from those places. There are also several countries that are very rarely mentioned. Other examples are less extreme, but they had their own problems. I'm just not convinced that these were necessarily worse than the problems faced by groups in many western countries up until very recently, or even today. Looking at the long list of CIA crimes, treatment of African Americans and homosexuals until today, the prison-industrial complex - I think you'll find that abuses of civilian populations are not strictly a communist thing.

For that reason, I think I'd like to add to the list of annoying historical myths the idea that a better society than the one we currently live in is not possible. I very much doubt this is the first time people seem to think they live at the end of history, and it would take a staggering amount of arrogance to assume that this time it's correct. It just seems that way because not many people have the imagination to think of working alternatives, and even fewer have the capacity to put those ideas into practices. And, unfortunately for us, most of those that do, probably live in places that are effectively under the control of people who are very much opposed to alternatives.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #203 on: December 15, 2013, 11:26:03 AM »
Thank you! I was having trouble recalling his name.

I iz a math dweeb. ;D

I go to the British Museum pretty regularly.  They have a large section devoted to Egypt then three rooms in a basement for "Africa".  I called one of the tour guides on it once and had a really interesting conversation.  He said that short of thing like the Benin Bronzes and whatnot, Egypt was the only civilization from Africa that had left us real honest to god "stuff" and that that had had a massive effect on scholarship.  In the west, at least.

It's been over a year since I've been, but when the little Oni went to an exhibit at the Penn Museum on the Mayans, I saw that they had this as one of their long-term exhibits.

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #204 on: December 15, 2013, 12:36:46 PM »
The trouble is that communism is a great idea in theory. Who wouldn't agree that everybody gets a fair share of the resources? Unfortunately, mankind is ambitious. There's always going to be someone who wants better than those around him. So the ideal can only really be held together by totalitarian regimes, in my opinion. Of course, this is a complete contradiction of the ideologies of communism.

In conclusion, communism is a great theory of how society could function. But then again, so was the feudal system, and it only took one epidemic to wipe out that idea.
Actually, Communism works more than just a theory, after all Switzerland is a Communist country.  But, as the Swiss prove, Communism only works on a small area and group of people.  When production outpaces people, like Russia, then you have a problem.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #205 on: December 15, 2013, 02:12:50 PM »
I go to the British Museum pretty regularly.  They have a large section devoted to Egypt then three rooms in a basement for "Africa".  I called one of the tour guides on it once and had a really interesting conversation.  He said that short of thing like the Benin Bronzes and whatnot, Egypt was the only civilization from Africa that had left us real honest to god "stuff" and that that had had a massive effect on scholarship.  In the west, at least.

The BM used to have an affiliated department a bit to the south, in Mayfair (as classy an address as you can get in London) called the Museum of Mankind with lots of African, nomad Asian, Chinese and native American objects - particularly African, and their shows would explore those cultures and peoples, their history, in their own right, not as something that barely existed until it was found by random European explorers. I was there in the nineties, it was very cool and had amazing things and evocative ways of displaying them. Unfortunately it's been closed as a public museum in its own right, they moved the objects back to the main British Musuem quarter in 1997, and most likely that meant 98% of them getting packed down into the cellar. Or in some contracted warehouse...
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 03:54:35 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #206 on: December 15, 2013, 03:53:57 PM »
The BM used to have an affiliated department a bit to the south, in Mayfair (as classy an address as you can get in London) called the Museum of Mankind with lots of African, nomad Asian, Chinese and native American objects - particularly African, and their shows would explore those cultures and peoples, their history, in their own right, not as something that barely existed until it was found by random European explorers. I was there in the nineties, it was very cool and had amazing stuff. Unfortunately it's been closed as a public museum in its own right, they moved the objects back to the main British Musuem quarter in 1997, and most likely that meant 98% of them getting packed down into the cellar.

Before my time, sadly.  Only moved to London in 2007.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #207 on: December 15, 2013, 04:00:11 PM »
Before my time, sadly.  Only moved to London in 2007.

You should see the Gandhara bronzes (gods, Buddhas, dancers and so on) from Pakistan and Afghanistan (Greek-Indian Bactria) and northern India in Paris, at the Musée Guimet. They're compelling, well the whole museum is fabulous, it deals with all kinds of Asian antiquities and cultures, from Iran to Japan and Java.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #208 on: December 15, 2013, 04:04:36 PM »
You should see the Gandhara bronzes (gods, Buddhas, dancers and so on) from Pakistan and Afghanistan (Greek-Indian Bactria) and northern India in Paris, at the Musée Guimet. They're compelling, well the whole museum is fabulous, it deals with all kinds of Asian antiquities and cultures, from Iran to Japan and Java.

I'm actually in Paris for a bit next year.  Inter-railing.  If I remember, I'll check them out.  But we may be wildly off topic here.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #209 on: December 15, 2013, 04:35:28 PM »
Another one that a lot of people seem to believe is that China went straight from the imperial period to the communist regime. At least so far as those who are unfamiliar with Chinese history. However, generally speaking, the post Qing dynasty regimes of Sun Yat-Sen, Yuan Shikai, and Chiang Kai-Shek tend to get overlooked by the general public in many places outside of China.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #210 on: December 15, 2013, 04:41:39 PM »
Another one that a lot of people seem to believe is that China went straight from the imperial period to the communist regime. At least so far as those who are unfamiliar with Chinese history. However, generally speaking, the post Qing dynasty regimes of Sun Yat-Sen, Yuan Shikai, and Chiang Kai-Shek tend to get overlooked by the general public in many places outside of China.

And just as many people think Lenin personally made the Tsar give in. In reality the Bolsheviks had little or nothing to do with the street revolt that forced the end of the Romanov dynasty, and when Lenin first heard about it from a fellow Russian exile in Zurich he didn't even believe it!

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #211 on: December 15, 2013, 04:43:44 PM »
Actually, the Chinese 'Communist' government isn't at all.  It's actually the same bureaucratic system they've been using for the past...  4000?  years, just renamed and pretending to be different.  It's trying to adapt to the modern world, but it's still imperialistic in nature.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #212 on: December 15, 2013, 05:01:06 PM »
Actually, the Chinese 'Communist' government isn't at all.  It's actually the same bureaucratic system they've been using for the past...  4000?  years, just renamed and pretending to be different.  It's trying to adapt to the modern world, but it's still imperialistic in nature.

True enough. Except there have been some serious structural changes in parts and they no longer have an emperor.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #213 on: December 15, 2013, 05:15:50 PM »
The essence is the same though. China had over three thousand years to build up a system of governing and a social hierarchy. The Chinese President is still treated much the same as the Emperors of the past and still has much the same power. A 3000 year old system and hierarchy isn't going to change that rapidly over the course of a few decades.

On another topic, Australia was founded by convicts. Technically, this is partially accurate. What are now the eastern states (New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland) were originally claimed by the British Empire for use as labour prisons. However, what is now South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia were initially 'free' settlements, and by the time the nation was formed and ratified in 1901, the Empire had not used any Australian land as a prison for almost a hundred years.

Another common myth is that the bushranger Ned Kelly was a hero who stood up to a corrupt and oppressive police force. Fact: Ned Kelly was a murdering thief and the only reason the local police had it in for the Kelly family was because Ned was a wanted criminal.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #214 on: December 16, 2013, 04:41:43 PM »
The idea that Christianity totally consumed pagan religions in Europe. I'm not necessarily talking about secret cults or anything like that. A number of alarmingly pagan traditions persisted throughout the medieval period into the present. Of course they tried to dress them up as more Christian, but it's pretty obvious the roots are something else.

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #215 on: December 16, 2013, 07:22:08 PM »
The idea that Christianity totally consumed pagan religions in Europe. I'm not necessarily talking about secret cults or anything like that. A number of alarmingly pagan traditions persisted throughout the medieval period into the present. Of course they tried to dress them up as more Christian, but it's pretty obvious the roots are something else.
Technically that IS consuming.  Christianity took over and adapt the other traditions and redressed them to fit their own purposes.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #216 on: December 16, 2013, 09:00:14 PM »
Early Christianity - the virus of religions. Small and niche at first, but extremely adept at invading other cells religions, co-opting their innards traditions and holy days, and using them to replicate gain converts and propagate itself.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #217 on: December 17, 2013, 05:24:41 AM »
It was a pretty logical step really. The easiest way to convince someone to follow your ideals is to convince them that they are not so different from the existing ideals.

Offline Lux12

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #218 on: December 17, 2013, 04:03:35 PM »
Some people seem to think all of Africa had been conquered during the colonial period. However, Ethiopia was an independent nation during this period.

Offline consortium11

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #219 on: December 17, 2013, 07:18:48 PM »
Actually, Communism works more than just a theory, after all Switzerland is a Communist country.  But, as the Swiss prove, Communism only works on a small area and group of people.  When production outpaces people, like Russia, then you have a problem.

You'd have to have a very, very, very, very loose and wide definition of communism to call Switzerland a "communist country".

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #220 on: December 17, 2013, 07:31:32 PM »
You'd have to have a very, very, very, very loose and wide definition of communism to call Switzerland a "communist country".

Uh....Switzerland's flag is red with a symbol in the center. The flag of the Soviet union was red with a symbol in the center. Clearly, the Swiss are Commies, right? :D

Offline ladia2287

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #221 on: December 17, 2013, 07:36:01 PM »
I get the impression that Switzerland is more socialist than communist...

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #222 on: December 17, 2013, 08:17:11 PM »
Quote from: Chris Brady
Actually, Communism works more than just a theory, after all Switzerland is a Communist country.

???

You'd have to have a very, very, very, very loose and wide definition of communism to call Switzerland a "communist country".

It's not as if Lenin and other Bolsheviks who lived there, striving for a revolution at home and abroad, managed to sway the Swiss.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2013, 08:19:24 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #223 on: December 17, 2013, 08:18:40 PM »
Uh....Switzerland's flag is red with a symbol in the center. The flag of the Soviet union was red with a symbol in the center. Clearly, the Swiss are Commies, right? :D

*stares suspiciously at Canada*

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #224 on: December 17, 2013, 08:30:29 PM »
Uh....Switzerland's flag is red with a symbol in the center. The flag of the Soviet union was red with a symbol in the center. Clearly, the Swiss are Commies, right? :D


I'll have to ask the regional patriots around here about just when they took a liking to communism. They are revolutionary militants allright: some of them have long been toying with talk of the need to break free from the overlordship (or tyranny) of Sweden.

Provincial flag of Scania:

« Last Edit: December 17, 2013, 08:31:40 PM by gaggedLouise »