In response to a question based on an article he wrote – noting that nations are built on stories (as they are) – Yuval Noah Harari replies (in part):
As a historian I feel sometimes ashamed or responsible, I don’t know what, about what the knowledge of history is doing to people. …As a historian, I feel ashamed, that this is what my profession, in some way, is doing.
I think people should be liberated from the past…
In other words, we should forget about history. The full exchange begins here. This excerpt is from a discussion with Harari “hosted by TED global curator Bruno Giussani” on the topic of the war in Ukraine.
Now, what on earth am I doing, listening to this? Well, where can I better find the source of the manufactured reality that we are supposed to believe, the one which people are supposed to spout at cocktail parties – the type of parties to which none of us are invited (let’s call it “cock-‘splainin’”)? TED plus a speaker at the World Economic Forum. Tell me, does it get any better (worse) than this – to really understand what the wanna-be in-crowd is supposed to believe?
Harari has demonstrated this “we-should-forget-history” idea by example. In all of his cock-‘splainin’ about the war in Ukraine, he forget any history of NATO moving East, of NATO making the commitment of incorporating Georgia and Ukraine into the alliance, of Putin’s statement’s regarding this, of the western-fomented color-revolutions, of the cookie monsters visiting the mostly peaceful massacres, of Ukraine bombing its own citizens in the eastern part of the country, of the amassing of Ukrainian troops on the borders of the Donbas, of the president of Ukraine stating clearly he would develop nuclear weapons…oh, I could go on, but you get it.
Frankly, if a historian isn’t going to discuss history, why is he consulted as an expert?
Further, in his cock-‘splainin’, he spent not a word discussing any of the statements made by Putin or Lavrov. It was all Putin-is-a-madman kind of stuff. What is a historian who wants to forget history to do with his time? I know. How about becoming an armchair psychiatrist? He proceeds to explain that Putin is just…I don’t know, mad…crazy….
There was a lot of focus on Germany – Germany has to step up, lead Europe (now that Brexit and all that). Of course, the crux of the matter is Germany – everything necessary has been done and must be done to keep Germany and Russia as antagonists. To understand why, read Halford Mackinder – and keep in mind he gave this lecture in 1904, and, in my opinion, it explains every major war fought since that time. It isn’t about oil, it isn’t about Zionism, it isn’t about communism, it isn’t about fascism, it isn’t about spreading liberal democracy. Mackinder explains what it is.
And then, an amazing exchange. Was the war the result of a failure of diplomacy? Could a different approach have avoided the war? To the first part, the answer is yes – clearly war is a failure of diplomacy (which is correct in this case, and I think all cases).
To the second question Harari replies:
Is it a failure in the sense that a different diplomatic approach, some kind of other proposition would have stopped the war? I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem like it.
This, of course, must be the answer if you just absolutely know that Putin is mad, crazy, insane. Keep in mind – this is what people believe, or what they are told they should believe. It is cock-‘splainin’.
Looking at events of the last few weeks [this video was published on March 2], it doesn’t seem that Putin was really interested in a diplomatic solution. It seems that he was really interested in the war.
Of course, since the historian tells us to forget history, we need not look back more than a few weeks. We need not consider the many proposals and statements made by Putin, Lavrov, and others (how about John Mearsheimer and Stephen Cohen, for example?). We need to forget the Minsk Agreements, to which Ukraine was a party.