Soon*, darichards.com will make way for a new website, KyranArcher.com. Some of the reasons for this are summarised at the bottom of this page, but the name isn’t all that’s changing: there will be some adjustments to the content as well. One of these adjustments is that I will be adding a segment on history, picking up some of the more interesting and entertaining sides of what our world has already been through. This post will serve as some much needed background!
So, let’s start with the first part of the title: history is politics. It sounds very basic, and in fact it is, because any introductory course on either history or politics, or anything in between, would probably start with that sentence. We are led to believe by everyone around us that history is based on facts, that there is no such thing as opinion involved in it: why would there, after all, when history is fully based on things that actually happened? But unfortunately it just isn’t so simple.
For one, history is for a large part based on interpretation. This goes especially for ancient history, where things are so vague that historians spend most of their time drawing major conclusions from minimal amounts of data, but it also goes for recent history. The same action can be interpreted in completely different ways depending on the perspective and on the political background of whoever is talking: Hitler’s popularity before World War II, for instance, can be interpreted as a result of the German people’s tendency to hold fascist beliefs, or as a result of poor economic circumstances, both of which have completely different implications.
Moreover, leaving out a small fact can completely alter the image of a certain event. Neglecting to mention that the British Empire had barely any need for slaves in comparison to its former colony the United States makes their international ban on slavery in the 1800s sound a whole lot more noble than perhaps it really was. Context also plays a role: perhaps the Babylonians were brutal and bloodthirsty when they sacked Nineveh in 612 BC, but perhaps they were actually rather kind compared to the Assyrians, whose king only a few years earlier had attempted to completely wipe Babylon off the face of the earth by killing its inhabitants and ruining the acres with salt.
The real problem is that these mistakes are an every-day reality, and not one we usually make on purpose. To avoid falling for these, to avoid ignoring or neglecting facts that don’t fit our own worldview, is difficult, and takes constant conscious attention. Even the best of historians are not immune to it, and that is something we should always keep in mind.
The opposite also holds, though: politics is, for a large part, history. When studying politics, you will spend most of your time looking at things that happened in the past, learning from the mistakes that were made back then. Unfortunately, the lessons we learn from this are usually reserved only for academics and students studying history or politics, and not for the actual politicians who could put it to use in practice, but it remains a vital part of politics.
All in all, there are precious few topics that have as much overlap as history and politics do, which teaches one very important lesson: even historical “facts” are not always entirely true, and sometimes it takes a while for us to realise that there’s also another side to the “truth.”
There’s a new site coming at KyranArcher.com! Why, you ask? Well… Dean Richards was a name I came up with much too little consideration, basically being the first name I came up with after deciding that my unpronounceable, ridiculously long Dutch name REALLY wouldn’t do. Now, I’ve put a bit more thought into it, and although any name change always sounds and feels odd at first, I’m sure Kyran Archer will sound as natural as any other in no time!
As to why I chose this specific name: I just like names with a Y, and Archer was the surname that, to me, fit with it the best. I rejected a good couple of thousand names, so I’m certain that this one will make sense once it becomes more familiar!
Thanks for sticking around, and hopefully I’ll see you at KyranArcher.com soon!