Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sometimes I, or other people in the Counterjihad movement, claim that history teaching in schools is being used as a instrument of propaganda to indoctrinate European children into feeling a sense of shame about their own identities or promoting a falsely inflated view of the historical importance of Islamic civilisation or African civilisations (sic). This omnipresent sense of guilt then makes the plebs more compliant when they are told they need to hand over the keys of their countries to non-Europeans.

To the casual observer, this no doubt sounds like a wacko conspiracy theory. Here, then, is confirmation from an objective source that the Council of Europe is indeed using history teaching as an instrument of propaganda. In fact, it seems to have a regular program devoted to that purpose. The historians in its employ shape historical narratives to fulfil political agendas, and these confected histories then find their way into school textbooks.
The movement for European unity which began in Western Europe after 1945 was fired by an idealism that contained an important historical dimension. It aimed to remove the welter of ultra-nationalistic attitudes which had fuelled the conflicts of the past. All communities require both a sense of present identity and the sense of a shared past. So historical revision was a natural requirement. The first stage sought to root out the historical misinformation and misunderstandings which had proliferated in all European countries. The second stage was to build a consensus on the positive content of a new ‘Eurohistory’.

The Council of Europe provided the forum within which most early discussions took place. As an organization supported by twenty-four governments in Western Europe, it was never bounded by the political horizons either of the EEC or of NATO; and in the cultural field it gained the co-operation of four non-member countries from the Soviet bloc, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the USSR. Its input ranged from the Vatican to the Kremlin. From the first colloquium, which was organized at Calw in 1953 on ‘The European Idea in History Teaching’, the Council organized at least one major international meeting on historical matters every year for forty years. A 1965 symposium on ‘Teaching History’ at Elsinore and a 1986 seminar on ‘The Viking Age’ emphasized the desirability both of broad-based themes and of a generous geographical and chronological spread.

Apart from historical didactics, and the problems of introducing a skills-based ‘new history’ into school-teaching, the main focus lay on the elimination of national bias and religious prejudice from European education. Special attention was given to the shortcomings of national history textbooks. Numerous bilateral commissions were established for examining the sins of omission and commission of which all European educators were guilty in the presentation of their own and their neighbours’ past. In this the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, established at Braunschweig in West Germany played a pioneering role.

...One history project that was financially supported (though not originated) by the European Commission in Brussels was conceived prior to the political deluge of 1989–91. Labelled ‘An Adventure in Understanding’, it was planned in three stages: a 500-page survey of European history, a 10-part television series, and a school textbook to be published simultaneously in all eight languages of the EC. Its authors were quite open about their ‘political quest’: their aim was to replace history written according to the ethos of the sovereign nation-state:

Nationalism, and the fragmentation of Europe into nation-states, are relatively recent phenomena: they may be temporary, and are certainly not irreversible. The end of Empires and the destruction wrought by nationalism have been accompanied by the defeat of totalitarianism and the triumph of liberal democracy in Western Europe, completed in 1974–5. This has enabled people to begin to rise above their nationalistic instincts.
Source: "Europe: A History" by Norman Davies


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