toynbee & others
Posted 28 June 2001 - 05:49 AM
CAN ASSERT INFALLIBILITY?
In one of the final volumes of his monumental (12-volume) STUDY OF HISTORY, Toynbee writes that the Israeli appear to have learned only one thing from the Nazis: how to behave like them in their treatment of Palestinians. But Toynbee also changed his mind about the Armenians. After publishing several books on the murderous tyranny of the Turks, he acquired Turkish friends and a pro-Turkish stance. When asked to re-issue his book on the Armenian massacres, he said he was against it because he was fearful of what might happen to the Armenian community in Istanbul. Like the Israelis, it seems, the Turks had learned all the wrong lessons from their past. But whereas that fact had made Toynbee anti-Jewish, it had made him pro-Turkish.
Gandhi once called the British "a satanic force." But on the day the British quit India, more Indians killed Indians than all the Indians killed during British occupation.
When I read Goebbels’s diary, I thought, the man made perfect sense: intelligent, well-read, he quoted precedents (from Plato to American racial laws) for everything the Germans had done. Yes, Goebbels made perfect sense, except for one significant detail: in his view, the Germans were the good guys and the Allies the bad. Goebbels and his kind made such good sense that they have been successful in convincing many historians, among them David Irving (whose book on Dresden I remember to have read and admired) who have acquired many followers in neo-Nazi movements throughout the world, including Canada and the U.S.
Perhaps what I am trying to say here is that we commit a serious blunder if we get intoxicated on details and lose sight of the big picture. It is a mistake to slice history or time like baloney and concentrate on a single slice and forget or ignore the rest.
Toynbee is one of my favorite historians and Gandhi one of my favorite statesmen. But neither Toynbee nor Gandhi ever claimed infallibility in all their judgments. On the contrary, they adapted to new conditions and changed their views constantly, which makes them even more admirable in my eyes.
Posted 01 July 2001 - 12:19 AM
I must compliment your courage... You articulate your opinions with logic and wisdom.
Posted 01 July 2001 - 06:38 AM
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