Historians interpret the past in several different ways. For some Time Limit, it is a repository of substantial human experiences to guide future generations to avoid certain mistakes and make a correct judgment about ensuing or prevalent issues. From the knowledge of the past, nations could learn how to establish social and political institutions to serve society.
When a change is in order, state institutions must adapt themselves according to the new needs for their optimal utility. But sometimes change is resisted and the past is glorified to such an extent that it becomes an obsession with nations. They become blinded to the present and hence unable to assess and analyzed their present conditions under the changing circumstances.
Some historians believe that the past becomes a burden when it is preserved as a sacred heritage as this prevents change in society. People remain so intoxicated with the grandeur of the past that they are oblivious to the present-day challenges. According to the French philosopher, Descartes, those who travel and spend time outside their country become strangers to their own society. Similarly, those who pay too much attention to the past become incapable of understanding the present.
Historians present the example of the United States which appeared on the map of the world as a new country carrying no burden of the past. It inherited no grand, old monarchy, aristocracy or feudalism. Here lay an opportunity to construct culture right from the beginning with fresh energy and vitality.
However, with the passage of time, the past crept in with values of imperialism, genocide, violations of human rights, overthrowing other sovereign states, and other acts of exploitation and oppression. Within a short span of time, the American past, in turn, became as burdensome as that of the other old-world countries.
When the French revolution wiped out monarchy and laid down the foundation of a new society, the conservative classes of England felt threatened as they were concerned about losing their status. Edmund Burke refuted the revolution in his book Reflection on the French Revolution, arguing that it destroyed centuries-old traditions of the French society, creating a void that would only lead to disorder and chaos.
What he meant was that building a new culture is not an easy task. In the absence of values and institutions, society confronts disturbance and anarchy. He convinced the reader that as a traditional society, England should keep its traditions intact as they have evolved over a long period of time. His ideology appealed to the ruling classes who resisted change.
Newly independent countries of Asia and Africa remain in a dilemma whether to get rid of their colonial and pre-colonial past and rewrite the history with a fresh perspective, making independence the focal point, or to adjust the past with the present. Therefore, while some reject the colonial past of history, others retain it as a part of history and integrate it with their mainstream of historical narratives.
A group of historians argues with the concept that nations can learn from the past. According to them, there is a difference between the past and present-day cultures so the past can neither be revived nor repeated, society has to solve its problems in its present-day context and not in the light of experiences.
History has a Time Limit as it does not cover each and every event that happened in the past. In its early phase, the chronicles of rulers and the privileged classes were recorded as they were regarded as history makers. Political events were emphasized instead of society and culture while other classes were either marginalized or ignored.
David Hume, the English philosopher, and historian present a new angle in documenting history by highlighting the role of commerce in history. He discussed the contribution of merchants and traders in reshaping history. Another breakthrough was made by German historians at the University of Gottingen who unfolded the rule of guilders, peasants, and workers in creating history.
Although history has broadened its scope it still has Time Limit when interrupted by ideology alone. When history is written under such a framework, it has to be distorted to justify it. Consequently, it loses its credibility.
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