In an LSE lecture by Professor Christopher Clark, Clark outlined the focus of his new book: the origins of the First World War. He explained that despite this being an area that has been researched greatly already, history brings new perspective. He also explained that he would focus on how the war began, rather than why.
Clearly this area of history is of almost unparalleled importance. Without the Great War we would probably not have seen the rise of fascism, the holocaust, Naziism, the Russian October Revolution and all other manner of significant later occurrences.
But will Clark’s study really add to existing literature? How much of a difference does history really make in your opinion? Will he be able to bring an entirely fresh perspective? Or will he be likely instead of what he terms Presentism – making the past fit present circumstances?
Peace as a goal is an ideal which will not be contested by any government or nation, not even the most belligerent. Aung San Suu Kyi
Do you agree?
On the face of it it sounds like everyone will agree. But I don’t, at least not entirely. At present no government explicitly contests the principle. But society today is undergoing vast changes. Aung San Suu Kyi is a politician; and yet she is the heroine of our times. Whereas the ‘greats’ of history such as Alexander the Great would today be known as bloodthirsty tyrants. So although today there may be no government that contests the ideal of peace as a goal, people like Genghis Khan most certainly would have.
Genghis Khan viewed humanity as animalistic and predatory. He believed that people can be divided into either wolves or sheep. Being a sheep was being peaceful and civilised, and lacking in physical prowess. As you can guess Genghis didn’t much care for these kinds of people. But the wolf, which he saw himself as, was warlike, constantly moving around, never succumbing to the temptations of civilised luxuries, and never aiming for peace.
What are your thoughts on this matter? Is there an argument against peace? And could that argument be used still today? Or is it out-dated in a world where everyone cites a desire for peace?
The Cold War has ended, and national spending on space exploration has begun to seem too expensive for the tax payer, with too few short to medium term benefits. But are the US cuts to space exploration in this recession really sufficient reason to call the “end of the space age” as many journalists are now doing?
>In an age of globalisation should schools still be teaching history with such a heavy focus on national history? Is it right that many of todays children and adults alike can tell you obscure facts about their own national histories and yet don’t have a clue about major global developments?
>Sorry for my absence lately. I’m without the internet temporarily.
So to bide the time until I’m back on the site please feel free to list any questions you want to discuss here.
I’ll start it off: if 2011 is the real start of the tens decade then what is your opinion about what will be the key moments and themes of the Noughties that historians point too in fifty to a hundred years?
>Analyse the great leaders of history and you’ll learn about the positive traits that enabled them to find success, whether it be wit, oratory skills, strength, or any number of different abilities. Yet in all the world many people have these skills. So is it more about being in the right place at the right time? Or would the right person always find their way to the top irrelevant of what structures they’re pitted up against?
>These were the words spoken by Malcom X in 1964. The whole quote was:
“America is just as much a colonial power as England ever was. America is just as much a colonial power as France ever was. In fact America is more so a colonial power than they, because she’s a hypocritical colonial power. What do you call second class citizenship? Why, that’s colonisation. Second class citizenship is nothing but twentieth century slavery.”
Was he right to say such things in 1964? Would he be right today?
>Western democracies are liberal democracies. We believe in upholding basic human rights, and ensuring the freedom of the individual insofar as they doesn’t enfringe upon the freedoms of others. But would freeing people like Liu Xiaobo enfringe upon the liberties of others? Do we have a right to say our way is undeniably better, and that there are no disadvantages with ordering his release? Or is China right to suspect that violence and unrest might walk hand in hand with greater freedom to protest? After all China learnt a lesson from Gorbachev; and much of the reason why they keep such a tight reign on the country is because of the perceived lessons from that period of Soviet history.