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Revisionist History and How the Good Guys Don’t Always Win

International Man: Revisionist history refers to the re-examination and reinterpretation of historical events, which can be done to correct inaccuracies, update understanding, or challenge prevailing narratives.

This just sounds like applying critical thinking to history.

What’s your take?

Doug Casey: The essence of critical thinking is to question every proposition and then investigating the answers for accuracy and logic. It’s important to pursue answers to their root causes and never accept things at face value.

The problem with history, certainly as it’s taught in schools, is that its many versions are presented as fact with no nuance. Looking at history is very much like examining an elephant, where one person feels a leg and thinks it’s a tree trunk, and another feels the elephant’s trunk and thinks it’s a snake.

It’s said that the CIA made up the term “revisionist history” during the 60s as an aid to debunking interpretations they didn’t like. The powers that be, the establishment, don’t like revisionism for at least two reasons.

Number one, a thorough investigation of history requires detailed and well-explained answers. That might uncover crimes involving powerful people. They might be imprisoned, bankrupted, or seriously embarrassed. Revisionist history can overthrow the ruling order, therefore rulers always oppose it.

Number two, it can overturn myth. Myth is a double-edged sword. It’s often a good thing because it can be a tie that binds a people together, even if it’s not true. However, reality and truth are usually better than myth in the long run. So, we shouldn’t be afraid of overturning myths, even if they’re useful.

In any event, much of standard history contains crimes that should be recognized. As Gibbon said, “History is indeed little more than a catalog of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.”

International Man: Why is there so much controversy and negative stigma associated with challenging widely accepted contemporary or historical events?

In a free society, shouldn’t that be considered healthy and necessary?

Doug Casey: Yes. But it’s never in the interests of the Establishment to uncover crimes or overturn favorable myths. Every country romances its history to present itself in the best light possible. The average guy just accepts what he’s told. As Sam Cooke’s song, “Wonderful World”, says: “Don’ know much about the Middle Ages, jus’ look at the pictures, and turn the pages.”

For instance, take the Revolutionary War. It wasn’t just a revolutionary war. It could be described as a war of secession, but people don’t like to describe it that way because that makes it comparable to the War Between the States, which was another war of secession.

Revisionist history shows that the Revolutionary War was also a civil war in which perhaps a third of the country’s population was on the side of the Crown. Only a third were rebels, and the other third were neutral. The Indians and many black slaves fought for the British. But that revelation compromises the nature of our national myth, and some people who hate the idea of America like to emphasize the negatives. I, for one, like our founding myths. But I also like truth and accuracy.

The same kind of problems arise to an even greater extent in the War Between the States—which itself is a Revisionist name for the Civil War. The myth is that it was fought to free the slaves. But that’s totally untrue. The slaves weren’t freed until the middle of the war, and then only in the southern states, not in the northern states. The main basis of the war was about taxation. And secondarily, about whether new territories could be admitted to the union as slave states.

The US government’s main source of income was import duties. But the South was paying the lion’s share of those import duties, which were raised significantly to protect northern manufacturers.

That was the major reason for the South seceding, not slavery. Slavery was highly controversial in both the North and South, but it wasn’t the reason for the war itself. Few talk about that because it seems more noble to have the victor be the good guy fighting to free slaves, as opposed to maintaining economic advantage.

You can’t maintain a free society unless you can debate about factual matters and what’s right and what’s wrong. However, teachers just repeat what the government says. And the narrative can change radically. Even as we speak, historic myths are being replaced by recently minted propaganda. We’re on the edge of seeing the statues of Washington and Jefferson replaced by those of George Floyd.

We’re not as bad by any means as China or the USSR, where the whole society was based on a lie, and it couldn’t even be questioned. But we’re moving in that direction with current views of political correctness and wokism.

International Man: The comedian Norm Macdonald once joked:

“It says here in this history book that, luckily, the good guys have won every single time. What are the odds?”

What are some historical examples of when the so-called “good guys” didn’t win?

Doug Casey: We all know the old aphorism, “I’m a freedom fighter. You are a rebel. He’s a terrorist.” It’s often a matter of perception. And the fact is that everyone thinks he’s a good guy.

Even the worst mass murderers like Alexander, Genghis Kahn, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao—all thought what they were doing was both good and necessary.

It’s a question of deciding who the good guys really are. Look at the battles between the Hatfields and the McCoys. They both thought they were on the right side of the issue. Or the wars between the Europeans and the Native Americans. Both sides had excellent arguments for killing each other.

It’s like the battle of the Alamo. Yes, the Americans were brave and fighting for something they believed in. But at the same time, the Mexican army was quite correct in trying to kick out invaders that were violating their territorial rights.

There are many examples like that. My own view is that the “good guys” are on the side of individual liberty and have a preference for non-violence.

International Man: Most people would agree with the phrase “the winners write the history books.”

However, when it comes to certain historical events, the same people would likely accuse you of being a dangerous extremist promoting hate crimes.

What do you make of this amazing display of cognitive dissonance?

Doug Casey: Well, it’s part and parcel of the study of history. Emotions get higher the closer we are to events. Especially where those who were involved are still alive. Major players in history are rarely saints; they usually have Machiavellian or Kissingerian morals. They’re inclined to cover up crimes or bad intentions. You’re not allowed to hold some views. If you do, you’re a heretic. And heretics are often burned at the stake.

Pearl Harbor is a good example. It’s now obvious that Roosevelt provoked the Japanese and was looking to force their hand and get them to attack. He was aware the attack was coming but was willing to sacrifice Pearl in order to make Americans righteously angry.

Yes, the Japanese were the aggressors. But at that point, they were being backed into a corner as the US cut off their oil and steel. People don’t want to believe that because they want to believe that the US is always in the right—we’re always the good guys. I’m sympathetic to that view, if only because the US is unique in having been founded on overtly libertarian principles. But that doesn’t mean its government always, or even usually, acts according to its principles.

The Kennedy assassination in 1963 is another example. I have no doubt that Oswald was a patsy. Who did it? I don’t know, but I suspect it was the CIA that Kennedy wanted to disband. It amounted to a coup d’etat. But, whatever the real facts are, they’ll never come out because it would make the US look like a banana republic, reveal criminals, and destroy more of our founding myth.

We really don’t know exactly who’s responsible for 9/11. All we know is the accepted narrative. There are all kinds of unanswered but obvious questions, like what actually happened to building number 7. Looking for the truth, even in the most intellectually honest matter, will get you accused of being a conspiracy theorist.

International Man: Given everything we’ve discussed today, what are the implications as the world is headed for its most chaotic period since WW2? What can the average person do to protect himself and even profit?

Doug Casey: There are at least three major disasters unfolding before our very eyes: the Ukraine, Gaza, and potentially Taiwan. And I’m afraid that the US government is on the wrong side of all of them.

The Russians were pushed into attacking the Ukraine much the way the Japanese were pushed into attacking Pearl Harbor. It’s a border war between Kiev and Moscow that has been blown way out of proportion. The US thinks it’s clever to sacrifice Ukrainian manpower to hurt Russia.

Gaza amounts to another type of border war, albeit one that’s been going on for about 3000 years. Who really owns Palestine, the Jews or the Arabs? Why is that a concern of the US?

As for Taiwan, I suspect historians will see a lot of similarities to what happened in Vietnam and Korea. In all three, the US gets involved in a conflict on the other side of the world in completely alien cultures, millions die, and there’s a huge amount of destruction.

In all these cases, Americans are writing history at the moment. But the US, which has transformed into a degenerate empire, is now on the wrong side of history. A hundred years from now, other powers will be writing the standard version of history—not us. But that doesn’t augur well for Americans in the here and now, that’s for sure.

So, what can the average person do to protect himself or even profit?

Plan your life around it being an unstable world. And in that kind of world, you want stable investments that won’t dry up and blow away.

I am a fan of two approaches. One includes owning gold and real estate—physical things. The second would be adopting the stance of a speculator to capitalize on the chaos that is definitely going to wash over the world in the near future.

Reprinted with permission from International Man.

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