Forwarded from Nestor (falsifying history)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Nov 9 14:37:16 MST 2000

Louis Proyect wrote:

"The bourgeoisie turns everything into a commodity, hence also the writing
of history. It is in its nature, a condition of its existence, to falsify
all commodities: it falsified history. And the version of history which is
most highly paid is that which is best falsified for the purposes of the
bourgeoisie." F. Engels, Notes for a history of Ireland

It is most striking that Engels arrived at this conclusion while working on
the history of Ireland, and most reasonable. Nowhere is falsification of
history more necessary than in colonies and semicolonies.

Some examples. Israel claims that there was "nobody", or "almost nobody",
living in Palestine before the Jewish colonists began their redeeming of
the Holy Land. The Argentinian and Uruguayan oligarchies wrote histories
that, once instilled into the masses of migrants, generated a false
consciousness of the "whiteness" and "European constitution" of these
countries, which were formerly occupied by a few and worthless, lazy,
"cabecitas negras" (the original populations, formed by miscigenation of
Spanish and Indian people). The United States were built on the
transformation of the original inhabitants in a fact of Nature, which could
be felled away as remorselessly as the woodlands on the East Coast.

An Argentinian historian, who had little or nothing to do with Marxism but
had a clear identification with the goals of national liberation, once
wrote a book on our oligarchic historiography, the title of which was _La
historia falsificada_, that is _Falsified history_. In fact, national
revolution begins in Argentina with a revision of history by both
reactionary and progressive essayists during the 20s and 30s.

In our case, falsification was an extremely shameless operation, where
whole tracts of events were dismissed as unimportant if they did not serve
the purposes of the oligarchy. Lies were stated as if they were truth, and
prejudices were raised to the category of scientific criteria. While in the
core countries falsification tends to obscure those sides of history that
do not serve the interests of the bourgeoisie, in the colonial and
semicolonial world falsification doesn´t even care _to be true to reality_.

Though many examples could be given, the most paradigmatic one must be that
of the _Plan revolucionario de operaciones_ of Mariano Moreno, the great
Jacobin of the early year of our War of Independence. The very existence of
this plan -which among other provisions included immediate expropriation of
the mines in the Higher Perú (today´s Bolivian highlands) in order to
establish a strong program for state capitalism (in 1810!), class and race
war, or actions of Latin American extent (plans are exposed to revolt the
Southern Provinces of the Portuguese Empire and to stamp out slavery)-
destroyed the elaborate myth that the May Revolution which put the
Independence war in motion had been the result of free trade and agreement
between the illuminated commercial classes of Buenos Aires and the British
government. This myth is the cornerstone of the oligarchic version of our
history. What was the fate of the _Plan_? Not only it was dismissed, it was
_hidden away and given to the mice_ by the most important of our oligarchic
historians, Bartolomé Mitre. Since a reactionary Spanish historian, in an
attempt to show how horrible were the consequences of Jacobinism, had
already published it, an enormous amount of paper was wasted to show that
the document was not authentic, and so on...

Only during the early 70s, under the heavy fire of the mass upheavals that
eventually brought Perón again to Presidency in 1973 and not without
strenuous battle and censorship, did the Academia acknowledge the validity
of this document.

When political economy is the political economy of plunder, the
falsification of history must be particularly complete, because if it is
hard to justify class domination by the bourgeoisie, loot is still harder
to justify...

Lic. Néstor M. Gorojovsky
Dirección de Estadísticas del Sector Primario Instituto
Nacional de Estadística y Censos Argentina

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list:

More information about the Marxism mailing list