Quite a lot of people, most of them after misreading Machiavelli, have convinced themselves that ‘history is written by the victors’.
Even Winston Churchill, once a victor himself, had fallen into this trap.
Lately, more and more have started to doubt this assertion.
“History is written by the writers.”
Steve Theodore, professional game developer, amateur know-it-all
OK, let me dig deeper.
In reality, being able to write is not enough.
In order to be able to write about something, you have to survive it first.
And something else. Merely writing it would not necessarily preserve that information for further referral. For us to be able to read it. And be influenced by it.
So, the history that we are aware of today has been written by those who have survived the events, were smart enough to write and to understand the real importance of what they have just done. And to preserve the results of their effort.
But there’s more to it.
Basically there are at least two manners in which someone can describe something.
As close to what they honestly remember or in such a way as to bring as many benefits to the writer as possible.
I’m sure that you’ve already figured out what I’m hinting at.
Yes, the first manner of writing produces ‘true’ history while the second yields mere ‘propaganda’.
Which can be, indeed, useful.
On the shortest of times and only as long as the writer itself does not start to believe in his own writings!
Otherwise they’ll join the fate of the likes of Goebbels and …
You know, Hitler’s very efficient ‘spin doctor‘ (“Think of the press as a great keyboard
on which the government can play.”) who, at the end of WWII and with the help of his wife Magda, had “murdered their six children and killed themselves as Soviet forces closed in on the bunker.” Would you call that a ‘victory’?
But we have to give him what was really his. He was a ‘man of his word’.
“If the day should ever come when we must go, if some day we are compelled to leave the scene of history, we will slam the door so hard that the universe will shake and mankind will stand back in stupefaction..”
For some people to write history and for that history to remain as they have written it, the writers had to survive ‘it’, learn from what had happened to them that they were the in possession of very important information and decide to pass on that information, as truthfully as possible, to the next generations.
To help them survive if/when confronted with a similar ordeal.
And this very fact, that the history they had written taught someone how to survive, transforms the writer into the real winner.
In fact ‘history’ will be passed from one generation to another only as long as the next generation replaces peacefully the older one. Only as long as the older one helps the new generation to ascend into the future.
Otherwise, if the ‘children’ have to fight their ‘parents’ – as in ‘contradict what they had been taught by their teachers’ – in order to remain alive, they will also re-write the ‘history’ they had to fight against while struggling to survive.