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What is "mainstream" history?

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    Posted: 04 May 2011 at 21:45
Since the "alternative" is defined as "anything not mainstream" we may ask what this "mainstream"history is.There may in many cases be so many different opinions it is hard to see any "mainstream". Can some ideas be both, dependending on how far they are "stretched"? Example: It seems very little sense to deny economic actors and social tensions have played a great role in history, but that does not mean Marxism - or some other far reaching theories are "mainstream"?
I am not even sure wether or not some sees some of my viewpoints as "alternative" or not -or if they are understood at all.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Apr 2014 at 11:35
Anything that's not radical.
It's not that I was born in Ireland,
It's the Ireland that was born in me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2015 at 03:26
Instead of using the term "alternative," I will here use the term "fringe," with the understanding that the "fringe" should not be a term for dismissal, but an invitation for exploration on the edge of what is known. 

Once upon a time, plate tectonics was fringe, now, the fact that continents move around is accepted.  Plate tectonics is geology, but its similar, there is the standard 'wisdom' regarding history, and then there are the fringes (plural).  In physics, there is Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, or rather what is popularly called cold fusion, that is fringe.  Fringe doesn't mean its wrong, (nor does it mean its right), it just means that it doesn't have legitimacy according to the status quo.  The number one preoccupation of the status quo is being the gatekeeper of who is in and who is out, including the question of funding.

One area of history that used to be the mainstream, but now is considered quaint (and fringe for "serious" historians), is the "great man theory of history."  The standard belief from cultural relativism is that great men no longer exist, and they did not ever exist, or rather they are the result of blind socio-economic forces. "Of course" someone like Caesar would pop in Republican Rome, just as a Churchhill arrived in England for the Battle of Britain.  But really, not everything is economic or socio-political.  Through "great man theory of history," we can learn by looking at the achievements and mistakes of others.  Or just hear a cool story.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2015 at 10:39
For me this idea of "great men" in history appear not really as any theory at all, therefore neither a "fringe" nor "alternative" one.
I think it is more about viewpoint than about anything else.
It seems to be more about what is decided to be "important" than about any defined disagreement about historical events, at least if we don´t go into extremes that maybe can be rejected in advance of research by most. Examples of such extreme positions that are hard to take serious:
A: "Great individuals Means absolute everything, so we don´t need to look at anything else in history."
B:"Individual people make absolutely no difference at all and should be ignored." If we see both statements as not substainable then what is all the fuzz about?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2015 at 15:59
The "great man 'theory' of history' believes that individuals matter, and that there are pivotal individuals who it is necessary to look at in order to understand key events.  Like John Lukacs says about Churchhill, Churchhill could not have won World War II, but he could have lost it.  After Dunkirk, he was appointed to prime minister to put him in the compromising position of having to surrender to Germany, and well, he didn't.  Great man 'theory' of history is how much of history and biography have been told, since antiquity.  An example of it would be Plutarch's Lives.  It is typically told in politics and sometimes in intellectual history.  Not all occurances are the result of "great men," most of the time we muddle along and do okay.  But occasionally some crisis happens, and someone with a great clarity of vision arises who is able to take advantage of the situation, hopefully for the good, but not necessarily.  Also, one aspect of the great man theory of history is that one can make moral judgments about Caesar or Stalin or Ulysses S. Grant.  There are great villians in history as well.
But maybe, one would prefer the world "style" to "theory"?  At the extremes, everything becomes a matter of personal volition, or nothing becomes a matter of personal volition.
If one is arguing for history as the work of inevitable forces such as in communism, well then you don't want to say that people have a choice in the matter, or rather you want to say that the only rational, sane, irresistable "choice" is the choice of going along with the plan, such as Marxism or the "1000 year reich."  It is the freedom of a dog tied to a cart, the dog can either go along with the cart, or he can be dragged along, but either way he is going.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2015 at 16:33
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

The "great man 'theory' of history' believes that individuals matter, and that there are pivotal individuals who it is necessary to look at in order to understand key events.  Like John Lukacs says about Churchhill, Churchhill could not have won World War II, but he could have lost it.  After Dunkirk, he was appointed to prime minister to put him in the compromising position of having to surrender to Germany, and well, he didn't.  Great man 'theory' of history is how much of history and biography have been told, since antiquity.  An example of it would be Plutarch's Lives.  It is typically told in politics and sometimes in intellectual history.  Not all occurances are the result of "great men," most of the time we muddle along and do okay.  But occasionally some crisis happens, and someone with a great clarity of vision arises who is able to take advantage of the situation, hopefully for the good, but not necessarily.  Also, one aspect of the great man theory of history is that one can make moral judgments about Caesar or Stalin or Ulysses S. Grant.  There are great villians in history as well.
But maybe, one would prefer the world "style" to "theory"?  At the extremes, everything becomes a matter of personal volition, or nothing becomes a matter of personal volition.
If one is arguing for history as the work of inevitable forces such as in communism, well then you don't want to say that people have a choice in the matter, or rather you want to say that the only rational, sane, irresistable "choice" is the choice of going along with the plan, such as Marxism or the "1000 year reich."  It is the freedom of a dog tied to a cart, the dog can either go along with the cart, or he can be dragged along, but either way he is going.

To me it must be something "between" to make any sense.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2015 at 00:18
I generally agree.  For most things, the results are usually due to both nature and nurture.

There was a story about a Greek from a minor city-state coming up to Pericles in Athens at the height of its power and saying, "you know, if you had come from my city-state, you would not be such an important man."  To which Pericles responded, "Yes, and even if you came from Athens, you would never have been an important man either."  Both nature and nurture.  But, people often want to spin it one way or the other, to support an agenda, and that can be interesting too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Mar 2016 at 06:04
One thing I wonder about, is could one have "in" history, a false event, and how would that false event (accepted as true), effect the whole.  For example, let's say that Roswell did not happen, but also that it was _said_ to have happened, to the point were it was generally accepted by all but the fringe.  Would this false event color the whole entire history as tainted, or could it have the opposite effect of revealing some angle of approach towards history that would foster greater insight.  What about Atlantis?  Has the belief in Atlantis been more useful to mankind, than the "sunken island" of Atlantis has ever been?

Does that make sense?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote scholarmonk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Mar 2016 at 13:08
Yes, it makes sense. If some event is universally believed as true, even if it didn't actually happen, it is almost the same as if it did, at least as far as it effects people.

Now such a situation of believing in events that never actually happen may lead to incorrect understanding of how certain events came about and history actually evolved. For example, say Martin Luther's nailing of his thesis on the abuses/errors of the Catholic practices to the door never actually happened. Instead of being some spontaneous event that got out of his control, let's say the actual history was that the spread of Luther's ideas was the result of a deliberate campaign by reformers who had been around for awhile, and just used Luther as a firgurehead. In that case, Luther wasn't that important - if not him, somebody else would have come up instead, and the outcome to history would have bee pretty much the same, only the details changing.   Instead of Lutherans, you would have Schmidtans instead.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Mar 2016 at 14:45
Quote One thing I wonder about, is could one have "in" history, a false event, and how would that false event (accepted as true), effect the whole. For example, let's say that Roswell did not happen, but also that it was _said_ to have happened, to the point were it was generally accepted by all but the fringe. Would this false event color the whole entire history as tainted, or could it have the opposite effect of revealing some angle of approach towards history that would foster greater insight. What about Atlantis? Has the belief in Atlantis been more useful to mankind, than the "sunken island" of Atlantis has ever been?

Does that make sense?


Fiction accepted as fact is a common occurrence in human societies. Modern conspiracy theory, 'King' Arthur, Robin Hood, Dan Brown's Da Vinci code, Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, are all examples that come to mind.
http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Mar 2016 at 17:44
Yes, but can one achieve a higher truth, by embracing a fiction, or in other words, by falsifying part of the record?  Or for that matter, muddying it so much that no 'ordinary' person knows what really happened.  JFK assassination, or the death of Hitler (before the USSR opened its records).
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