[MUD-Dev] historians

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Tue Nov 2 20:30:11 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


On Mon 30 Aug, Philip Loguinov -- Draymoor wrote:

Quite off topic here, but I could not resist...

> I believe that having many viewpoints of history is a very good idea.
> But there are a couple facts in the real world i'd like to point out.

> Take for example WW2.
> Hilter killed over 10 million people with his holocaust.
> We all know that. He was a monster.
> Well, how about Stalin? He killed as much, no MORE people, the SAME people,
> as Hilter.
> Now, Who gets more publicity as being a monster of murder? Hilter. Stalin
> gets sheltered.
> Why? He is on the allied side, the winning side.
> Later on, Stalin is made to look evil anyway, but thats because of the Cold
> War, not WW2.

This is somewhat simplified.
Stalin (and communism)  was a significant reason for people to initially
vote for Hitler.  Only after he had the power did he run with it. It was
not so much a matter of glossing over Stalin's crimes as well as chosing
to ignore them for the duration of the war.
Also  you must keep in mind that  in 1930  mass communication was in its
infancy. TV did not exist. Radio did, but radio reporters did not travel
to the depths of siberia to witness Stalin's atrocities.  In fact it was
not until the end of WW II,  when the allied forces liberated the german
concentration camps, that they realised the full extent of the mass mur-
der that had taken place there. Most people in europe realised something
was wrong with the deportations of the jews, but they did not -know- and
had no way to find out anything. This does not entirely excuse them, but
it means things are not quite so black-and-white as hindsight makes it.
The same is true,  to a large extent, for Stalin.  It was not until long
after WW II that the full extent of his crimes became clear.  Until then
it was impossible to find out.  People knew something was wrong, but did
not know what exactly.  The fear for, and demonising of,  Stalin was for
much more abstract reasons than knowledge what he had caused.

> Today, it's not as bad, but it's still true.
> I bet you learned/are learning in school about the holocaust and Hilter's
> evils.
> I bet you aren't learning about the greater holocaust in Russia :)

We did, but perhaps we are unique ;)

> It is natural for any side in any conflict to try to make the people think
> they are good and just and the opponent is a pile of crap.

This is true. Of course that does not make it -history-.
History  is more than a dry summation of events,  and less than a biased
justification of actions.  It is more a description of events and an at-
tempt to explain the reasons and mindsets that caused those events.

This means that you can not just write a 'history'.  As Mathew did point
out  you need a distance from the events to write it.  But you also need
biased material  to interpret the reasons,  justifications  and mindsets
that caused the events to happen in the first place.

The following is part of a chronicle, or timeline.  It is factual but it
does not explain anything. It also is painfully boring :)
    In the year X, Faction A fought faction B over thing C. Faction A
    lost the war and Faction B kept control over C.

The same events described from the point of view of faction A, about how
they declared war to faction B to liberate thing C from their evil hands
and restore it  to its rightfull place in the citadel of A.  Then how in
the ensuing war, through treachery their armies were betrayed
and defeated...
that is a narrative, not history, but without it a historian can not be-
gin to write down  why faction A wanted thing C from faction B,  and why
the war started in year X, and so on.  For history the 'how's and 'why's
are as important, if not more so, than the 'what's.

> What i am trying to say is, history should be dealt with on a faction by
> faction basis.
> Each faction records it's own history. If you join a faction, you learn it's
> history, on a purely
> biased basis. History, throughout the ages, has been convoluted, partially
> for this reason.
> Factions would never expose there members to information contrary to their
> beliefs/good standing, and they shouldn't be forced to.

I tend to agree with you, though you should be careful to say that what
applies to RL should also apply to a game.


Marian
--
Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey




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