'Negationism' vs. 'Revisionism' in History.

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by von Poop, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I'd not heard the term 'Negationism' before.

    Seems a sight more useful to me in criticising certain quarters than the blanket abuse of the legitimate aims of Historical 'Revisionism'?

    More precision here could be an improvement I suspect?

    ~A
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    Interesting, thanks for the info.
     
  3. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    I'd not heard the term 'Negationism' before.

    Seems a sight more useful to me in criticising certain quarters than the blanket abuse of the legitimate aims of Historical 'Revisionism'?

    More precision here could be an improvement I suspect?

    ~A

    An interesting distinction Adam.
    I agree that 'negationism' may be more useful. Revisionism carries the implication that one is simply putting forth an alternate interpretation while 'Negationism' more precisely defines an attempt to disavow or deny an event. Generally, that aligns more closely with the techniques of those who attempt to distort the record and discredit a particular group.
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    I've used "agenda biased history" before. It works on several levels.
     
  5. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    It depends on your approach and motivation, if you are attempting to bend or distort the facts to "arrive" at a particular ( pre determined) conclusion or to support a belief which is unreasonable in the face of the existing evidence does it really matter what you call it ?

    I am going to "steal" the name of Neil Young's album "Rust Never Sleeps" , the same can be said of history reviewing history is nothing new it has been on going since the first page was ever written and it will continue until the ink dries on the last page.
     
  6. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Revisionism has become a word victim of abuse. History is an ongoing process, it's a living body: new data surfaces, hypothesis are reinterpretated, new ideas see the day. It's quite natural that the views on Roman history by Titus Livius and by Jon Coulston will be at variance. Why? History evolved: was subject to Revision.

    A pity the meaning of such a noble word had to itself evolve and become a word of opprobrium.
     
  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    does it really matter what you call it ?
    I think it probably does.
    Sensible, supported, revisions to History are often (even usually) a good thing. The coverage and understanding of past events evolves and changes as more info comes to light, or new connections are made.

    Eg.: Nobody thinks all Vikings wore helmets in battle with great big cow horns on them anymore. That's a revision of some Victorian nonsense, and a good and sensible one.
    There's many more which reflect the entirely legitimate process of history.
    If we didn't have revisionism, then we might all as well buy one secondary source book on any historical event, maybe published within c.20 years after that event, and call it a day at that. Some things are fact, but many others are open to debate, or revision.

    Then there's the dark side - the politicised or agenda-driven deliberate attempts to distort history - the axe-grinders - taking all sorts of twists and turns to fit a pre-conceived hypothesis.
    That also is a kind of revisionism, but only a facet of it.
    The fact it dominates the terminology in some people's minds, does disservice to many more legitimate attempts at historical investigation

    It seems to have reached a point where any new historical idea or suggestion that some don't necessarily agree with can be decried as 'revisionist nonsense', which appears to often be a mildly lazy way to associate the target with dealers in pure misinformation. Something that on deeper enquiry almost always appears unfair. It's too broad-brush a usage.

    Words are important.
    Every field has it's terminology, there for good reason to improve clarity and avoid misunderstanding or misinformation.
    This 'negationism' term seems to have a lot more validity in describing specific attempts to misinform than the general usage of 'revision' currently subscribed to by many.
    I've avoided the term 'revisionist' for years when arguing with or about holocaust deniers, as I consider it innacurate. I even left it out of the forum description here and went with 'no denialism' instead, for reasons of precision. From now on I can use the neater term 'negationism', and know more exactly what I'm referring to. It probably even closes many argumental openings that using fuzzier terminology has often left ajar in the past.

    ~A
     
    dbf likes this.
  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Personally, I shall continue to use the terms Denier & Revisionist in the fond belief that most people will understand exactly what I mean by the use of either phrase.

    I would also be happy to quote one of my old friend Bill Shakespeare's characters when I say "A plague on both their houses !"

    Ron
     
  9. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Hooker from Rolls Royce on seeing Frank Whittles engine, well Frank that certainly is a simple concept - we will soon design the simplicity out of that!
     
  10. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Personally, I shall continue to use the terms Denier & Revisionist in the fond belief that most people will understand exactly what I mean by the use of either phrase.

    I would also be happy to quote one of my old friend Bill Shakespeare's characters when I say "A plague on both their houses !"

    Ron
    In general terms yes, I agree :) And as for your second paragraph, in loose translation:
    "As many plagues will consume you as hammer-beaten lice were required to build St. James tower" - medieval Portuguese Jewish curse :)

    (Canuck would write this as Portuguese-Jewish but it is my country and I'll write it as I damn well please :D )
     
  11. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    In general terms yes, I agree :) And as for your second paragraph, in loose translation:
    "As many plagues will consume you as hammer-beaten lice were required to build St. James tower" - medieval Portuguese Jewish curse :)

    (Canuck would write this as Portuguese-Jewish but it is my country and I'll write it as I damn well please :D )
    Actually, I would write it as Jewish-Portugese but I'm flexible.
     
  12. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    At a certain point in Canada, you just have to drop the hyphens.
    Usually, by the 3rd-4th generation, if not sooner.
    I'm an Irish-French-Scottish-likely Indian-Canadian so you can see it gets a bit awkward over time. Too much diversity here for one culture/religion to stay intact for long. Mind you, it does make for some very interesting and highly entertaining weddings.

    The 'likely Indian' is an assumption made given that my ancestors arrived in Quebec in 1640. At that time, there was a distinct shortage of French females and nothing to suggest any suppressed libidos.:rolleyes:
     
  13. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Von Poop
    I think it probably does.
    Sensible, supported, revisions to History are often (even usually) a good thing. The coverage and understanding of past events evolves and changes as more info comes to light, or new connections are made.

    Adam my post agrees with everything you say, as I said history has always been subject to review and re consideration in the face of new information which is evidence based, it is when it is reviewed without reasonable or with factious evidence that problems arise.

    A negationist view might be that because the number of people who died in Auschwitz has been reduced to less that a million perhaps this figure is also wrong.
     
  14. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Only if the person positing a genuine shift in what is known or certain, is using changes in evidence to forward a wider and more negative agenda.

    That seems to be the point: Definite negative objective or ulterior motive = 'negationist revisions'.
    Legitimate shifts in what is known or believed to be true = just 'revisions'.
    And yet without care we use one term for two different things, often in areas where confusion is bad enough as it is.

    The people that intermittently email me, calling me eg.: a "dirty fuccing Joo" or similar (forgive me that quote, one day I may share these occasional emails... and their spelling :rolleyes: - stuff like that is one of the reasons this business interests me) for closing some thread or other, or banning them, fit the 'negationist' description well. But If I used 'revisionist' I'm being less precise, while at the same time perhaps indirectly denigrating other legitimate practices in history, chipping away at the reputation of a perfectly reasonable activity.

    (And yes James, I know we're broadly on the same page here - but I do think there's a case to be made for finding current common parlance a tad imprecise. )
     
  15. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    Within the professional historical community, 'revisionist' continues to be a neutral label. Revising is what we're supposed to do: sometimes it's done well, and sometimes it's done less well, but the act itself is recognized as an essential part of the job.

    Outside the academy, to be called a 'revisionist' has acquired much less neutral connotations. It's been suggested, often mischievously I suspect, that there's something vaguely improper or underhand about revision. This is mildly irritating but there's probably not much that can be done about it, especially since the word's association with Holocaust denial, however unfair, is too toxic to be easily repaired. The idea of using 'negationism' or some variant of it to refer specifically to deniers is an interesting idea, with a worthy aim, though I suspect probably doomed from the start.

    (I also have a hunch that some at the more buff-ish end of the history spectrum don't really care for revisionism even in its technical sense, preferring anodyne homilies about timeless truths rather than a narrative that might offer a less reassuring complexity).

    Best, Alan
     
  16. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

  17. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Aye, OP - aren't they often...

    Should explain the edit - I traditionally cut direct links to such organisations as we don't like direct linkbacks which can bring things here to their attention (links being a two-way street). Tends to attract nuts...

    (People can Google it if they wish, and for those not aware of the IHR, the Wiki page ain't far off-beam: Institute for Historical Review - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
     
  18. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    ...calling me eg.: a "dirty fuccing Joo" or similar ... for closing some thread or other, or banning them, fit the 'negationist' description well.

    I would class those under the 'full bore arseholist' label :D
     
  19. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    That too mate, obviously.
     
  20. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    Aye, OP - aren't they often...

    Should explain the edit - I traditionally cut direct links to such organisations as we don't like direct linkbacks which can bring things here to their attention (links being a two-way street). Tends to attract nuts...

    (People can Google it if they wish, and for those not aware of the IHR, the Wiki page ain't far off-beam: Institute for Historical Review - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
    The edit is fine. I just copied the link to save typing it out again.

    The IHR is a conclusion-drive institution, "We know X happened, so let's get out there and find proof!" Backwards, of course, but they do get support for this kind of thing. It was people like this that got me going to put evidence on the Internet that would refute their claims.
     

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