Wednesday, 27 March 2019
Why Are They Back? Historical Falsification, Political Conspiracy and The Return of Fascism In Germany by Christoph Vandreier - Mehring Books-2019
Friday, 22 March 2019
Musgrove defensively tied to explain this mildly shocking statement by saying "Hands-up, this was a somewhat clumsy attempt by us to engage with a conversation started on Twitter by the historian Hallie Rubenhold that suggested there is too much focus in public and popular history on great figures (principally men), and by extension the great events they were involved in (wars, acts of parliament etc.) – to the detriment of the presentation of the lives and times of the less exalted people of the past".However, because of our initial poorly-phrased tweet, we threw ourselves into the fire of Twitter opinion with many historians wryly, drily, or angrily observing that we appeared to have overlooked many decades of deep and detailed work into social history".
Musgrove while conceding the tweet was wrong went on to defend the magazine's stance of excluding the working class from its history magazine and blames his working-class readership for their supposed disinterest saying"Right now though, I'm afraid, it's a much harder task to get the passing reader to pick up a magazine that shouts about the life of a person who has not come into your consciousness at all. I suppose, also, there is the question of consequence; however fascinating the life of an 'ordinary person' from the past might have been if that person's actions didn't have an impact on wider developments in history, the passing reader seems to be less inclined to want to invest time and money in a magazine in order to find out about them".
While I am all for the study of working-class people because hopefully, that is what historians like Hallie Rubenhold mean by "ordinary people" however I am against the clumsy and unscientific usage of the term.
Many historians have used the term mainly to blame the working class for various bad things that have happened in history. This term was heavily popularised by the historian Daniel Goldhagen in his wretched book Hitler's Willing Executioners. His usage of the term "ordinary Germans" was criticised by the Marxist writer David North who wrote
"The methodological flaw of Professor Goldhagen's book is indicated in its title: Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. Let us stop right there: What is meant by "ordinary Germans?" For those of you who would like a textbook example of an "abstract identity," this is it. This is a category that is so broad, it is capable of including virtually everyone, except, presumably, Germans of Jewish parentage. What, after all, makes any particular German an "ordinary" one? Is it a large girth and a fondness for knockwurst and sauerbraten? Is it blond hair, blue eyes and a penchant for sunbathing in the nude? Is it a talent for abstruse philosophising and a passion for 300-pound Wagnerian sopranos? A concept built upon such foolish and arbitrary stereotypes cannot be of any scientific value in the cognition of objective reality".
Hallie Rubenhold is a gifted and respected historian her book is selling like hotcakes and has generated a large amount of interest. Unfortunately, this interest far outweighs the importance of the work.
Rubenhold recently said that "I do feel that what our culture recognises as 'history' needs some recalibrating. For too long, its focus has been 'the great deeds of great men' - monarchs, Generals, politicians, wars, Acts passed by governments. By these standards, the lives of ordinary people are disregarded”.
If Rubenhold is talking about writing about the working class, then she should say so why to continue with this "abstract identity". Another abstract identity favoured by Rubenhold is "peoples history" or "history from below". Like ordinary people, this phrase removes any class content from the subject being discussed this is a little ironic given that "peoples history" was a type of history produced by the Communist Parties around the world to justify their class collaboration with their respective bourgeois regimes.
As the Marxist writer, Ann Talbot notes "the Communist Party sponsored a form of "People's History", which is typified by A.L. Morton's People's History of England in which the class character of earlier rebels, revolutionaries and popular leaders was obscured by regarding them all as representatives of a national revolutionary tradition. This historical approach reflected the nationalism of the bureaucracy, their hostility to internationalism and their attempts to form an unprincipled alliance with the supposedly democratic capitalists against the fascist Axis countries. People's history was an attempt to give some historical foundation to the policies of Popular Front—the subordination of the working class to supposedly progressive sections of the bourgeoisie and the limiting of political action to the defence of bourgeois democracy—which provided a democratic facade to the systematic murder of thousands of genuine revolutionaries, including Trotsky”.
 A critical review of Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners- David North- www.wsws.org/en/articles/1997/04/holo-a17.html
 The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper- Houghton Mifflin
 "These the times ... this the man": an appraisal of historian Christopher Hill Ann Talbot -https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2003/03/hill-m25.html
Tuesday, 19 March 2019
Wednesday, 6 March 2019
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper- Hallie Rubenhold-Doubleday (£16.99).