12 Pages

Historians and the Present Conjuncture

This chapter argues, through the examination of examples of the recent political use of history that the relationship between historiography and its readers has changed dramatically. With the end of bipolarism and the collapse of the Soviet system has come a new historical revisionism that, instead of reassessing the political and ideological ideas of the past, proposes a generalized depreciation of it. Because the past is considered to have been entirely negative, we cannot look to history for values to guide the future. Despite everything, what prevails is an optimistic outlook: the end of an illusion compels us to come to terms with a more realistic and more human world, devoid of messianism. The political use of the past by the Catholic Church has played a powerful role in strengthening this negative image. History is being manipulated and used, while the voices of historians have become muffled and distant.