The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #172129   Message #4167281
Posted By: Lighter
10-Mar-23 - 03:43 PM
Thread Name: BS: stupid sayings
Subject: RE: BS: stupid sayings
This "history is written by the victors" is a pet peeve of mine, and I tried to debunk it earlier this week on the A.l. Lloyd Shanties thread, to wit:

"'History is written by the victors.'

"That proves that Jeff Davis and the Kaiser were both in the right.

"History, in fact, is literally written by professionally trained historians who aren't afraid to modify or change their conclusions in the light of new evidence. Their work is scrutinized by others. They don't always agree, either.

"Now that I've been told that the news is fake, science is fake, and history is fake, I guess the smart thing is to believe any goddamned thing I want.

Feels GOOOOD! :} "


The idea is an old one:

But it's only true when the victors have a monopoly on writing and historians, a state of affairs that obviously held true when the vanquished were non-literate. The fact is that even non-literate societies have had spokespersons among the supposedly monolithic victors. For example, the notorious 1864 massacre of Native Americans at Sand Creek, Co., was investigated and condemned by the U.S. Congress, whose report contained the following words:

“It is difficult to believe that, being in the form of men and wearing the uniform of the United States, soldiers could commit or countenance the commission of such acts of cruelty or barbarity as are detailed in the testimony.”

(Not quite the stereotype of the victors, is it?)

Outside of Colorado and neighboring Kansas, the event was also widely denounced in the popular press.

The smug assertion that "history is written by the victors" implies that the "victors," whoever they may be, control the historians. Sometimes, as in Nazi Germany and the USSR, they do, but in democratic nations they don't. It also works as a pseudo-intellectual slogan meaning "I don't believe anything historians from the winning side have to say, because they're naturally liars, the voices of the losers have been silenced, and we'll never know the truth anyway. So don't confuse me with facts."

The saying also implies that the victors' historians solidly agree.

I mean, really. If the voices of the losers had been silenced, there wouldn't be neo-Communists in Russia and neo-Nazis in America.