Leftist Revisionist History

All history is revisionist. Otherwise we are just repeating past clichés. For example, one of the historical challenges right now in Virginia during the Civil War sesquicentennial is to “revise” the legacy of misconceptions left for us by generations of “Lost Cause” writers. It is important work and leads to many new insights about a period we thought we knew well. Is it revisionist? We hope so. Is it leftist? It’s hard to get further to the right than supporting an aristocratic slave-holding society so I guess it could be said that it moves our understanding to the left.

“Right” and “Left” are not particularly useful terms. They are products of an oversimplified TV news perspective and they disregard the richness and complexity of the political landscape. Leonard Levy was libertarian, Douglas Southall Freeman had strong confederate sympathies, Eric Hobsbawm was a socialist. They all wrote excellent history. We all have biases. The point of history is work with and understand bias–to use it as use it as a tool to greater insight, rather than pretend it does not exist or that we are immune from it.

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~ by severalfourmany on October 22, 2012.

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