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The Use Of History By Politicians

1565 words - 7 pages

Politicians use history in many ways. They make history, as actors; they often write history, as diarists and in memoirs; some even read and study history and their claims to scholarly expertise on the subject give a degree of intellectual authority and respect (Clark, 2010).
Politicians use history when it comes to terms with the past for different reasons. They use the past to demonstrate their own historical significance and their fidelity to national traditions. “History is made use of when it is activated in a communicative process in order for certain groups in a certain society to satisfy certain needs or look after certain interests” (Kangaspuro, 2010, p. ).
Very often politicians ...view middle of the document...

History is transferred through museums, exhibitions, memorials, media, films, and other. There are different approaches: the first is suppression of the past and denial, the second one is digestion and then the last one and the main focus of this paper is the symbolic policy, meaning the use of history by politicians. Tradition founding and continuity to keep the status quo is another important reason for politicians to use history because history means also tradition and representation and can produce a feeling of identity. Politicians often constitute „political myths“. Myth comes into play when rite, ceremony or a social or moral rule demands justification, warrant of antiquity, reality and sanctity. It is not only looked upon as a comment of additional information, but it is a warrant, a charter, and even a practical guide to the activities with which it is connected (Sandner, 1972).
The aspects of tradition and continuity are closely connected with legitimacy. When politicians use the history for their purposes, it can help them to legitimate or de-legitimate powers (Karlsson, 2010).
Sometimes there is the case of non-use of history. The interesting question here is: why do politicians conceal the past? And then: Why do politicians later resurrect history? What are their purposes?
There are some examples where we can see the use of history. The first one is exhibitions. Pictures produce authenticity and emotions. The second example is monuments. They have an official character, they are durable, governmental (national, public) and monuments have the function to form the memory according to national interests but the monuments. They develop their own imagery and are interpreted in a new sense by the younger generations (Sandner, 1972).
The rethinking of the role of history, not only in politics, but also in society, is obviously due to some significant developments. The end of the Cold War, the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the re-emergence there of pre-Communist and pre-Soviet conflicts, has certainly stimulated historical consciousness since 1990.
“In addition, history has proved to be an extremely efficient weapon for intellectuals and politicians to mobilise large populations for various moral, political and ideological projects.” (citation). In the field of research by historians, a confusing variety of concepts has emerged, which partly seem to have synonymous, partly overlapping meanings, and which are not always used in coherent ways.
Karlsson developed different categories on which the first one can be called the scholarly-scientific use of history. The rules and standards in this kind of use are approved as comparatively strict and professional. A narrative event must be understood, described and interpreted on the basis of a historical context. History can be seen as a prospective movement. Final results are not given, because history is permanent change. The focus in this category is on the discovery of new...

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