"In a land without history, whoever furbishes the national memory, coins the concepts and interprets the past will win the future."
The furniture of America's national memory has been slowly and stealthily moved out and replaced with new sleek and modern styles. History has been altered, twisted and turned to the purposes of the planners of our brand new future. The battle for the past is also the battle for the future. And he who defines the past, has a lock on determining what the future will be. It is not just the technical debates over laws and spending bills that matter, but the much larger cultural debate over who we are. If we cede that debate, then we give up everything. And the spending bills will pass anyway and the legislative machine will grind on without fail.
Ideology depends on that narrative of progress. America defined it as the progress from duty based central government to rights based self-government. Communism as the journey from feudalism to capitalism to communism. For Islam, it is a march backward to recapture the glory days of the Caliphate. For China it is a technocratic empire without emperors. The journey from the past to the present shows where you are going. It shapes the expected attitudes that people think they are supposed to have.
The Chinese and the Russians do not spend a great deal of time agonizing over Mao or Stalin. Mao was another Emperor and Stalin another Czar. They killed a great deal of people, but that is what emperors and czars have always done. What matters is that they made China and Russia great. Had the Nazis won or at least fought World War II to a stalemate, it is highly probable that the modern German would feel the same way about Hitler. Yes he may have gone too far, but he made Germany great.
That is what control of the historical narrative means. Take the worst monsters who ever lived, and fit them into a historical narrative so that they appear to be part of the pattern, and their deeds become nothing special. And take the greatest heroes and place them so that they appear to cut across the grain of history and they become monsters who subverted the natural course of events for their own greed and power. The deeds of their enemies are laid at their doorstep. Their life stories become myths to be exposed and torn down. This has been done and is being done to us right now.
Take the chief argument against Israel. It isn't human rights, because even its worst critics when backed up against a wall with a fact based test are forced to admit that it has superior human rights to those of neighboring countries. But those countries are part of the grain of history. Israel however cuts against the grain of history. It is colonial, it is imperialistic, it is all those Marxist buzzwords which mean that it should not exist. A Muslim country where the law is a man with an axe is part of the proper narrative of history. But Israel is an abomination, a crime against the inevitable trajectory of history. And all the troubles of the region and the world can be laid at its doorstep... because it is unnatural. Its unnaturalness disturbs the entire world order. And will go on disturbing it until it is destroyed.
But it doesn't end there. America is unnatural too. A colonialist state. And all nation states are unnatural really. Arbitrary borders cutting across cultural lines, impeding migration and communications. History is against them. They must go.
"Our hopes must be placed on the young. We must win the youth if we are to win the future."
"If we want to win the future... then we also have to win the race to educate our kids."
"As we strive to achieve our main slogan, "Win the youth, over, win the future", we should also do our best to cut off these sources of strenght and growth from our rivals."
We live on the cusp of a wave that is the present. Ahead of us is the shore of the future. Behind us the ocean of the ever-shifting past. History has its facts, but what we have are perspectives. These perspectives become the stories that inform who we are and what we are about. They give birth to the meaning we assign to age old symbols. They tell us what we should be fighting for. Anyone who can take that away from us, can also destroy us. Or remake us in their own image.
To create a land without history, you begin with the children. The adults always have history. It may be bad history, mangled and worn. But it is still there. No, it is the children who can be transformed into the cut off point between one generation and another. Some regimes will forbid the transmission of cultural memories from adults to children, but ours are wiser than that. They simply teach the children to despise adults and dismiss all they have to say as outmoded bigoted foolishness.
A culture that values only youth and mocks age and experience is completely vulnerable. It creates a land without a history. And its rulers can govern a populace no longer able to recognize old mistakes and ancient follies. It has no history. It has no national memory. There are symbols which the rulers interpret any way they please. And then there is no more people. Only the eternal and endless youth, and the euthanasia needle of mercy for anyone who isn't willing to act young anymore.
For the blank youth in a land without history, there is no past except as a scrambled mess of tropes, images and symbols to be combined and recombined in the way that amuses them best. There is only the wide open future. A future that is at once hopeful and hopeless. Ahead revolutions beckon. Each revolution excites them, and then fails, hardening them. They are told over and over again that the future belongs to them. But at some point they are forced to realize that in truth nothing belongs to them. Not the past. Not the present. And most certainly not the future.
"Maybe nothing is really bad, since I am convinced that we will win the future."
Historical inevitability. The conviction that WE WILL WIN THE FUTURE. It makes the difference between victory and defeat. An advancing army is worth far more than a retreating army of twice its size. The difference is in morale. In expectation. A retreating army expects to be beaten. An advancing army expects to win.
Map that analogy onto countries and ideologies. Consider how conservative political parties act in almost every country. As if they expect to be beaten. They expect it because they lost that sense of historical inevitability. The Goldwater campaign challenged Democratic voting blocs with, "In your heart you know he's right". Today most conservative parties 'know' in their hearts that the left is right. They quibble with their tactics and nitpick the implementation, but they have come to agree on the basic ideas.
In the US and the UK, the Republicans and the Tories are willing to agree to every one of the left's cultural agendas, as long as they're allowed to make some cuts in the budget. In Israel, Netanyahu is doing a fantastic job on the economy, while arguing that he should be allowed to carve up Israel on the installment plan, not in one lump sum. Imagine if after the Battle of Saratoga, the American colonies had agreed to go back under King George III's rule, as long as George Washington was made Finance Minister with the authority to review the books. We won't need to worry about the cultural war or restoring some sense of purpose to the nation, once we've trimmed 11 percent off the expendables budget.
That is how occupying armies who have lost their sense of place and purpose behave. It is how people who live in a land without history act. They will fall for anything, because no matter how many times they invoke God and Country, these seem like pale things to them against the illusion of historical inevitability spun by the cultural dominance of their foes. Even when they win, they act like losers, because they have been convinced that they are doomed to lose. That the currents of history run against them. They will wage the occasional pitched battle and then run away.
There is only one thing that will stop this, and that is reclaiming the cultural narrative. Reclaiming it forcefully and vigorously with no apologies. Making it clear that we are the future. That our current is the tide of history, and they are stranded on the shoals of a lost cause. That is the message that genuinely great conservative leaders have sent. But even they often lacked the confidence of their rhetoric. While we may speak of the current, we all swim in a sea polluted by the propaganda of the other side's worldview and assumptions. The future may be our shore, but first we have to change the current. Our culture is our current. Our history is our tide. Their goal is to completely unmoor the future from the past. Ours is to close the circle once again.