Do individuals change the course of history, or is change the product of larger historical forces? Support your argument with historical examples.
Historical change is the outcome of a phase of change within a society. Individuals influence this phase through their actions; yet these actions are pre-determined by their experiences which they themselves had no control over. Historical change requires a permitting environment in which to influence; an environment where a majority must be knowingly affected by an individual, meaning individuals are under the constraints of historical forces. Power defines opportunities for change, a requirement where all aspects are founded on society. ...view middle of the document...
Hitler’s anti-Semitic biases emerged gradually through multiple observations with Jewish Zionists, conforming to evidence Hitler perceived (concerning propagated media within Vienna) that Jewish Zionism was morally unjustifiable towards personal beliefs (Mein Kampf 1942). Bias observations developed regarding Jewish culture, justifying his views of Judaism the race, not the religion:
“Was there any shady undertaking, any form of foulness, especially in cultural life, in which at least one Jew did not participate?” (Hitler, A 1925, Mein Kampf, p. 153).
Hitler’s situation was one he himself had no bearing on whatsoever; based on observations, Hitler’s flawed reasoning (flawed due to gradual bias) determined his comparably immoral beliefs, with similar cases such as his approval of eugenics (Richard Weikart, 2001), etc. Hitler’s story demonstrates the lack of control an individual possesses concerning the surrounding environment’s influence on themselves. Validation is given to the pre-determination assertion that experiences, through external factors, influence an individual’s actions within a phase of change. Experiences are gained within an environment or society, further proof denying the claim that individuals change the course of history, rather than larger historical forces.
Human nature possesses us to seek for personal benefit, attainable through the involvement of change. This applies nonetheless so on the scale of historical change, where an individual may influence change through their actions only if society permits; that is, if deviation from the norm knowingly affects a greater majority of that society. Einstein shares traits with the Spanish Inquisition in this manner: Einstein, through celebrated scientific success within the industrial era that would’ve been deemed blasphemous during the Spanish Inquisition; the latter’s executions of heretics and Einstein-like thinkers only possible with a supporting society (The Spanish Inquisition, 1996). Assuming a hypothetical situation of Einstein being executed by the Holy Tribunal, his theories would have followed his demise as blasphemous with no substantial impact on an un-permitting, unknowingly affected society. However, scientific ideologies deemed blasphemous by previous or existing societies may leave an extensive impression within an innovative secularised society, only if this approving society develops. This principle applies to other ideologies also (e.g. ethical, philosophical). Individuals are limited in their ability to influence change inside an un-permitting environment, and even if successful are ultimately tools of society themselves (see paragraph 2 for side proof). Societal constraints on individuals limit possible actions of historical change, meaning similar individuals’ ideological influences on change differ depending on society, which ultimately determines an individual’s actions’ success—bolstering the claim of change established by larger historical forces.