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How will, or can, the history of this recent period be written?

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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:19 PM
Original message
How will, or can, the history of this recent period be written?
You would think the work of an historian capturing the period between about the end of the Korean War and now would be pretty easy. One might simply amass official Government documents and statistics, recordings of news broadcasts, and news papers of the day putting it all in chronological order and let the story write itself. But what happens at the turn of the century and the arrival of Bush? What would you know about the last 8 years if all you had to go on was information you could get from Government sources, news broadcasts both radio and television, and news papers? Add to the difficulty of the problem that to be fair an historian would have to give similar weight to FOX as MSNBC, trust Clinton Administration statistical data as much as that which came from the Bush Administration, and take Rush's word at the same value as Al Franken. What kind of picture can anyone paint with information available now?

Maybe this in itself is reason for investigations. As strong as our suspicions are we don't even know what has been done to this country in the last 8 years.

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past"; Orwell, 1984. If we wish to take control of our own future we must recapture our past - we must investigate what has happened and who has been involved. This is independent of a need to expose criminal activity (let those chips fall where they may) but more essentially to establish a baseline from which we go forward.
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Selatius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. I fear the last 8 years will be swept under the rug like BCCI and Iran-Contra were.
In the 1990s, nobody was in the mood to investigate what happened during Reagan's tenure. The odds of a thorough investigation went from low to zero when Democrats lost both houses of Congress in 1994. Sadly, many of the same people responsible for the mess in the 1980s were never prosecuted and would later turn up inside the Bush White House, where they did all the damage they could do. If you forget the past, you're simply going to repeat it at some later date.
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:27 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Even with 'investigations' we get things like the Warren Commission
or the Hamilton Commission.

Which only results in an official, prettier rug to cover the truth.
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pretzel4gore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:43 PM
Response to Original message
3. it's all lies...
the pigs. Lie. Even when telling truth better for them, they lie. Lying makes covering up facts easier, by crowding the stage with britney and tom cruiser, they escape nortice murdering Dr David Kelly for exposing scheme to stage WMD find in Iraq etc. 600 of the victims on the SS Titanic were LOCKED IN, virtually prisoners, when it sank, but the PIG used the story to create fiction of white supremacy and courage while the poor were panicking, and IT WAS ALL A LIE!
They murdered JFK
They nuked Jap cities AFTER Emperor tried to surrender!
They staged 911
They got USA into 'war' in mideast to distract from 911.
911 effectively distracted from the theft of the 2000 election, as the NORC results proves...
Ronald regan PROBABLY lost the 1980 vote too (which explains constant demonizing of Jimmy Carter)
KAL 007 was blown up by rightwing hirelings, in a pre test of the conjob that we call '911' and transfer of national wealth from public to private hands..
etcetra ad nazism :)...

Therefore, in judging mr pig, one needs to know only one thing. HE (mr pig) MUST LIE, or we all gonna have a pig roast, and free hams for entire planet!

imho :shrug:
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Posteritatis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 02:54 PM
Response to Original message
4. "2001-2008: D:"
In all seriousness, though, historians definitely don't have to trust all information with equal weight. If they can put forth a compelling argument that Fox or my local newspaper or something is biased one way or another - or if they're unusually even-handed in another area - then they can state that and take it into account in their research. Fairness in historical research isn't about giving equal weight to everything; that way lies the same problems as biology classes giving equal weight to evolution and creationism. What historians should do is give equal skepticism to everything, evaluate documents on their own merits, accept the good and throw out the bad (or at least identify problems with the bad if it's still being used).

Anything that can't be corroborated somehow is generally considered suspect unless there's something surprising going on, but as people on DU have shown the last few years it can be exceedingly difficult to hide so much information about something that it can't be corroborated at all. Some of the info-mining and dot-connecting people on this site are capable of would give any totalitarian regime before pretty recently nightmares.

Also, a lot of stuff that's happened in the last eight years won't be opened for decades, but that's typical of government sources. Every few years some stuff from a few generations back gets opened to the public and everyone's always astonished. I think that will still happen a few decades from now; there's simply too much information out there, not all of it nicely shelved in government archives, to hide.

Until then, though, historians can do pretty incredible things with what initially looks like limited information. There's a hell of a lot more out there than government sources and the news, after all.

My main annoyance with what the previous administration (God, I love saying that)'s done to historians is more the destruction of Iraq's artifacts. I'm annoyed - to say the least! - with what's happened to government records in Bush's administration, but there's still mountains and mountains and mountains of it out there, quite a bit of which isn't in government hands. Iraq, though, that ripped the first couple of chapters out of the book.
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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:18 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. Thanks - you're right of course and I should have considered those things
This one thing still bothers me though, and maybe it is more the substance of my original complaint. Much information what would be useful for comparative purposes, say dollars-in-circulation, or reliable unemployment statistics either was no longer kept or subject to (unannounced) changing criteria so as to disguise and enhance and otherwise gloomy picture. I don't trust any number that comes out of Washington and haven't since Y2K. It also seems to me that some important information that was not captured in the past can't be captured later, and once again I'd cite the money supply as an example. Who knows what the money supply really was in the second quarter of 2005? Its omissions like that, important data that would be difficult if not impossible to reconstruct that bothers me most.
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Posteritatis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:39 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. A lot of that can be reconstructed, if very laboriously
Never underestimate a few thousand research assistants' desire for a paycheck. ;)

Also, DC proper would be far from the only source of such things. Other chunks of government, individuals who have an axe to grind about Bush or who are simply curious, gradual, piecemeal verification, correction or refutation of official figures. Most in-depth historical work is extremely incremental these days. The running joke is that one's research is "an inch wide and a mile deep." But those inches add up.

I think we'll get, if not The Truth, then something much closer to it than Bush ever wanted, over time. It'll be harder, as it always is when the subject of research gets in the way. Despite that, though, I think his attempts to bury the historical record will be an inconvenience at best in the long run. Historians, classicists and archaeologists have taken pretty good cracks at figuring out employment, demographic or economic statistics for the Roman Empire, albeit with some margins of error and uncertainty and so on because of the overwhelmingly vast amount of materials which were destroyed, lost, or simply never recorded in the first place. The amount of info-scrounging and lateral thinking competent researchers can do is often incredible; remember that there's people on DU who, without historical training or access to the archives as often as not, have drawn together incredible amounts of information that refute the daylights out of a lot of government claims.

Figuring out the details of Bush's legacy in the long run will prove a challenge, but it will be a challenge of a type historians are used to solving. It'll happen over years, probably decades, but the stuff can't hide forever.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:03 PM
Response to Original message
5. The history that actually is read in the future will
be written by the literate, and that bodes ill for the Republican Party.
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Posteritatis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:12 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Ouch. haha! (nt)
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:16 PM
Response to Original message
7. The problem is that the "investigations" would be done by collaborators.
Too many in congress signed off on the Bush/Cheney decrees and have dirty hands.

It will be up to the press to pull up the rocks and expose the culprits (of both parties) to the light.

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