What Is History?

Much of human history is entirely unknown to modern humans - we have archaeological evidence of human settlements dating many millennia before the Christianization of Europe, but we have no historical record for much of the human evidence we find.

History is a funny thing - as children, most of us view it as a boring school subject, repeatedly covering famous events and cultural landmarks, without ever really going into too many details. If you study history as a subject in post-secondary education (college, grad school, etc.), you will might discover something interesting: historical narratives aren't actually descriptions of factual events. Historical narratives are composed by academics, who take fragments of information, add in a lot of conjecture, and build a story that sounds interesting and compelling.

It's a bit like building a dinosaur skeleton - paleontologists craft skeletons from fragments of dinosaur bone, using computer modeling and existing data to determine the most likely complete skeleton. That doesn't mean paleontologists are able to conclusively determine the entire physiology of a dinosaur from a handful of bones and fragments, though, which is why it's important to always remember that history is inexact and not remotely scientific in its processes or methodology.

Who Writes History?

One of my favorite proverbs is:

History is written by the winners, and the winners tend to lie about the losers. -Unknown

I've said this many times to many people, and have yet to find evidence that it's incorrect. It's not that the historians of a given civilization are necessarily malicious and deliberately deceptive - although many times, this is the case. It's that a tribe or nation of people who conquers other tribes of people is simply predisposed to view its own nation in a more favorable light than those it conquers.

Why Does History Matter?

Someone once asked me, “What is 'history' if there's nobody to write it down?”

This is abstractly equivalent to the old saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no animal or person is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

The straight scientific answer is yes - soundwaves exist irrespective of anything capable of receiving and processing those soundwaves.

History has never stopped happening. There is no point in time when “history” began. This is important, because it's very easy to dismiss “prehistory” as mostly unknown, unknowable…and likely too uncivilized and backward to be worth knowing. In reality, “prehistory” matters more than “history,” because it is unknown. What we “know” is what academic gatekeepers are intent on ensuring we believe, regardless of its factual accuracy.

History matters a lot, because it's one of our only means of understanding the past - as in, our own ancestors and how they lived their lives. I've learned over the years to be skeptical of official historical record. The truth is, much of Western, White human history has come from two primary sources: Rome and Christianity. In both cases, the men tasked with documenting history had a very important ideological agenda to advance, which necessitated their denigration of conquered races and tribes. Romans accused Christians of sacrificing humans (babies and adults) to their gods, and when Christianity took over Rome, Christians carried on the tradition of accusing unbelievers of horrific, inhuman crimes.

But…does this mean every bit of historical record from these entities is necessarily a lie? I don't believe so, no. It simply means we must be skeptical and critical of any official historical narrative. It also means that, without concrete evidence, historians claiming some tribe of people were brutally and sadistically savage were more than likely maintaining the ideological narrative that their way-of-life is always superior to everyone else's, and others need to be saved from themselves.