Date: July 28, 2003
Subject: Who controls the past controls the future

Why does history matter? Why should the history standards matter to you as a parent, taxpayer, or citizen? For the answer, dust off your copy of George Orwell's book 1984 from your high school or college days, and re-read a few paragraphs:

"And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed--if all records told the same tale--then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'

"Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."

If dusty fiction isn't your cup of tea, how about some dusty non-fiction:

"Among the elementary measures the American Soviet government will adopt to further the cultural revolution are...[a] National Department of Education...the studies will be revolutionized, being cleansed of religious, patriotic, and other features of the bourgeois ideology. The students will be taught the basis of Marxian dialectical materialism, internationalism and the general ethics of the new Socialist society." --William Z. Foster, Toward Soviet America (1932), National Chairman of the American Communist Party (1933-44, 1945-57)

Or as commentator Sterling Rome said:

"Many conservatives have great regard for history as a guide and as an indication of what to expect from the future, while many liberals have a utopian view of society that requires a suspension of disbelief in order to be seen as practical. Because much of current liberal politics is built on theory rather than practice, history can be an awful inconvenience.

"So-called 'Progressives' can ill afford an electorate versed in political and cultural history, so their only option is to debunk historical truths that contradict them, or to argue that history is always relative to interpretation.

"Herein lies the real danger to society as a whole. Questioning history in an effort to uncover the truth is healthy. Refuting a truth (regardless of its validity) because it doesn't support a political theory is the death-knell of liberty."