Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wrong History

In a post not entirely unrelated to the previous one, NIMagyar's Paul talks about the manner in which the history of resistance to Soviet rule is taking on the status of myth, or indeed, lie. Drawing from an article in the Economist, Paul decides that a plague should land on all Hungary's political houses. An 'upbeat version' of history, involving '"triumph of people power" is the one peddled by the same politicians and the media-figures who gained most from the switchover,' while in reality nothing much changed for the ordinary folk.

This is hardly unique to Hungary. I've often been told of the disappointment of my grandparents' generation in the south who, having rid themselves of British rule, discovered, as the saying goes, that the only change was the postboxes being painted green. Allied with that was the observation that a hundred men had walked into the GPO and ten thousand had marched out (an complaint that itself elides the presence of women in the building!).

Nationalism is, as Renan pointed out, getting your history wrong. But Paul need not worry: at some stage all these people will be exposed. Just as happened in Ireland, in the Netherlands and in France, what Hungary needs is a spot of revisionism.

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