Why do we make certain people from history villains?

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John Titor

Pronouns: time/temporal/tempself
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Historical records is a long game of telephone purple monkey dishwater. Pass it on.
 

Orkeosaurus

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The only time people sperg about historical factions/figures being bad are in entry level classes. It's just completely irrelevant to the content and meaninglessly stirs shit up.

Nobody wants to hear some autist screech about how bad the crusaders were.
 

queue-anon

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There are a lot of examples in history (and the present day for that matter) where sometimes the evil dictator was the least bad option available.

Take Stalin as an example. Total asshole, but he was a total asshole that made the USSR a somewhat functional state before WWII, which, historically speaking, probably saved all of us because a basketcase Soviet Union couldn’t have kicked Hitler’s ass.

Caligula was popular with regular Romans because of his public works projects and charity. He was mostly unpopular with other members of the elite.

In more recent history, Zaire completely fell apart after its strongman died. What was interesting about Zaire is how much regular people outside of the cities loved Mobutu up until the bitter end. Everyone else hated his guts. The chaos after his death was mostly in rural areas, so it seems like in that case the rubes knew the stakes if their country lost their brutal dictator. Speaking of politicizing history, people romanticize Lumumba beyond all reason. Dude was an idealist trying to run a basketcase of a country by being nice and making promises he couldn’t deliver. He knew that Mobutu had it out for him, and he still kept the guy in his inner circle. I wouldn’t elect Lumumba dog catcher in the first world, let alone as prime minister in that impossible wreck of a country. It’s too bad he was killed instead of being allowed to escape into exile though. He seemed like a (too) nice guy.
 

Mr Snek

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Because in order for us to be proud of our ancestors and see them as heroes, they need to have villains to fight against. We just don't like to admit that our ancestor might not have been totally good.
 

AmokSweptMeFromMyFeet

Ich Bin Gott
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Isn't it obvious? We are tribalistic animals. Very, very insecure tribalistic animals. To prove to ourselves that our way of thinking is morally better or to just impose our version of history as "the truth" is the main goal of historians. Historians are like secular priests, trying to fabricate an certain narrative that makes the "authorithy" in question to feel less penis envious.

Control freaks. Control freaks everywhere.
 

Toucan

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The morality held by many of the people in the past would make them villains when compared with todays standards.
 

Lifeguard Hermit

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History before us saw evil in the form of brutal conquerors, religious zealots, and general genocide.
You also could make a strong argument that plain ignorance was the most pervasive evil of the past. Though all of these certainly carry over to modern times, I firmly believe a good majority of the evilest people that exist presently are fairly ignorant themselves as to how they affect the world at large.

Now I assume many of these global overlords, especially in (((that old tribe))), understand the exact destructive nature of their actions: but most for most of these rich cunts I know its just business as usual. Money talks and bullshit (namingly nonprofitable "cultural concerns" and the life of the peon) walks. For an ignorant evil, lets look at cocacola/nestle directly contributing to and worsening commiefornia's droughts. Thats a pure profit based evil, but is fairly benign in the intent. It's not necessarily cocacola/nestle's fault that they bought those water rights... but the moral thing would have been to cease drawing from them much sooner at the loss of profit.

For a more direct and pointed/intentional evil: look at the mineral rights in africa and note that in all actuality... we wouldn't have smart phones that weren't astronomical in cost if keeping africa shitpoor wasn't the direct intention of the nation's "investors". (noting tantalum, gallium, and thallium as we can only get one of those materials outside of africa at a comparable price)

I just think that modern evil, be it direct or indirect, is mostly based in profit now. Its almost like history is becoming a fairy tale of simpler times tbh.
 

TheAnimeRetard

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This might have been said here already but some wise words I actually heard on 4chan believe it or not is "We will always hear the winners side of history"

No matter what the winners of wars or conflict will always treat their side as the good guys.

Look at some recent stuff. Christopher Columbus for years was deemed as a great person and only in recentish years have people realized what he has done is horrible. Stuff happening in the last 100 years however are painted very black and white on what is good and evil.

History repeats itself. Just like back then if anyone has different opinions on what was right or wrong contrary to what is generally accepted people persecute you for those beliefs.

It bugs me how there's a push to try and make people forget about the genocide communism has caused and how things subtly have been trying to talk about 0ositive aspects of it. It's very shady.
 

Anonymous For This

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People have already said it, but the truth is that the victors are the ones that write the history books. If the Ottoman Empire had somehow been able to whip up some kebab magic to win in Vienna or if the Moors had successfully pushed harder into France, western culture and civilization could very well be extremely different right now. Either it would be absolutely gone under the dust of Ottoman heels or xenophobic to the extreme after fighting for decades or centuries against Ottoman/Moor/Whatever yolks. Society would be sitting here denounced western culture and praising Isla -- ….

…….. Ooooohhhhhhhhhhh.

Take Stalin as an example. Total asshole, but he was a total asshole that made the USSR a somewhat functional state before WWII, which, historically speaking, probably saved all of us because a basketcase Soviet Union couldn’t have kicked Hitler’s ass.

I mean, maaaayyyyyybe? Stalin did decimate the Red Army of competent command staff in the lead-up to the war. I personally think the USSR may have been better off underneath Leon Trotsky. Admittedly, it would be a shit show for anyone in the country regardless of which one ran it.

I would argue that Hitler lost as soon as the war began. Even without the USSR, Germany couldn't outproduce or outman the United States. American manufacturing might during the war was insane. There was a B-24 bomber rolling off factory lines every hour. Even if we couldn't have stopped Hitler by conventionally bombing him into the figurative Stone Age, after 1945 we would have nuked the shit out of Germany with impunity. The war might continue on for another year or two, but Berlin's just gonna get a dick that's red, white, and blue rather than just all red.
 

queue-anon

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I mean, maaaayyyyyybe? Stalin did decimate the Red Army of competent command staff in the lead-up to the war. I personally think the USSR may have been better off underneath Leon Trotsky. Admittedly, it would be a shit show for anyone in the country regardless of which one ran it.

I would argue that Hitler lost as soon as the war began. Even without the USSR, Germany couldn't outproduce or outman the United States. American manufacturing might during the war was insane. There was a B-24 bomber rolling off factory lines every hour. Even if we couldn't have stopped Hitler by conventionally bombing him into the figurative Stone Age, after 1945 we would have nuked the shit out of Germany with impunity. The war might continue on for another year or two, but Berlin's just gonna get a dick that's red, white, and blue rather than just all red.

You might be right. To be honest, I don't know that much about Trotsky, except that tankies seem to hate him.

I'll still give Stalin limited credit for doing what was necessary to kick Hitler's ass, and being a totalitarian dick likely played a role in his effectiveness.
 

Kaiser Wilhelm's Ghost

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Like any story, there is typically a hero and a villain. This is a common technique in creating a way in which we are able to conceptualize the underlying meanings and beliefs the people in the story hold. Just as we know who a protagonist is supposed to be based on their actions, we do the same thing for villains. We can do the same things when discussing historical people.

Are these historical figures truly the villains?

Are these people we view as bad not entirely bad?

Oftentimes, it’s easier to imagine people in simple categories of good and bad. For instance, in current day discourse, Christopher Columbus is a very polarizing figure. Many people will say he’s a horrible person because he was a murderer and a rapist. By all means, he is bad, but was everything he did bad? For instance, his “discovery” made it possible for Europe to have contact with the Americas in a way that was unprecedented. Without him, many of the people who live in the United States would not be here otherwise. This is where things get uncomfortable for people, because we have to acknowledge that even in bad people, good things can come from them.

Another example I could use is Henry II of England. He is mostly known for having a fit and Thomas Becket getting murdered as a result. This same man was also responsible for creating an Exchequer, which is a person that prevents the sheriffs (12th century version) from stealing money. He created eyre courts as well, which were royal courts that travelled around the country. These courts allowed for more impartial judges and created a fairer judicial system. This just goes to show that even a designated bad person in history can do good things.

I am in no way defending the bad some people have done, but merely offering another perspective. When we are forced to look for the good and the bad, we get a clearer picture of who the person actually was. The trend in modern academia leads us to believe that we can simply categorize people as good or bad, sometimes based on an ahistorical viewpoint. It’s easier to dismiss someone by just saying “they murdered”, “they were a racist” or “they were a sexist”. In doing this, we are creating new villains but failing to look at things more closely. Whether it’s the case of Columbus where good things come from bad actions, or the good being overlooked in favor of the bad in the case of Henry II, we can all agree that to simply write someone off as the villain in a historical perspective is ahistorical. I want to close by saying that the modern trend of creating villains in historical figures actually leads to less historic literacy. The same can be said for creating heros. Everyone is made up of good and bad, and as such, real people in different time periods need to be looked at the same way, since they were and are just as human as we are today.


I think it comes down to a psychological need for people to simplify their world and be able to relate to things in simple black or white terms. So the argument is that subject A is either evil or good then becomes a partisan view point, rather than looking at both what they did that was good, and what was evil.

Simplified history as in what they teach in school, has been simplified because it wants to convey a concept that people can understand, this person was good because of this reason, or evil because of this. The fact is, is that there is so much grey area in the world and in the actions of people, that using the term evil itself is hyperbolic, but everyone understands the concepts and the moral message they convey.

To use Columbus as an example.

Columbus to the Spanish for his accomplishments in finding the new world and claiming it and it's gold and silver rich lands for the crown of Spain could be considered a general good because of the great things it did in introducing Spanish language and culture into Meso and South America and ultimately opening up trade with these places, while advancing the catholic religion, the power of the monarchy and establishing a powerful world empire. (Nevermind he tanked the Spanish economy later on, because they had too much gold, and it caused a destabilization in market value because everything was on a gold standard.)

At the same time to the Indians of which he came among in hindsight he was an absolute plague. Bringing with him death, mass slavery, foreign religions, foreign languages, customs, and butchering ethnic tribes that up to that point had been fairly small and peaceable. He single handed destroyed their civilizations by bringing his culture, his people, and their technology and diseases to the new world.

Both are valid sides of the argument. But to say Columbus was evil, does it make sense in the context of which he lived? Think about it. Columbus as far as he was concerned was doing what was right, he was giving the gift of civilization, culture, and Christianity to people who he basically considered savage by comparison to the world he knew and which he existed in. He acted according to his knowledge and conscience, and I'm sure if you could go back and ask him, he wouldn't think it was evil, and he wouldn't think it was wrong.

Even the most controversial figures like Hitler and Stalin had their good points and qualities in their leadership. Though no one is ever willing outside of the most academic observers to touch these, because your average person in the street immediately triggers the moment you mention anything positive about the figures they've been taught to hate from childhood, and paints you as a Nazi because you dare to actually have a balanced opinion.

It's the same idea of people who argue that colonialism into Africa was evil.

Yeah in certain contexts you could say that. At the same time, the interchange between the two cultures, led to the democratic political institutions that didn't exist in those countries being installed. If you had asked a Christian missionary like Livingstone, they were doing God work to bring culture and Christianity to the dark continent, in the hopes of civilizing a savage people who weren't as advanced as they were, still worship tribal God's, had no central language, carried out tribal warfare with no sense of nation or institutions, and continued fueling the Arab slave trade, after the British had spent so much wealth putting a stop to it in western nations.

Outside of the basic functions of human experiences and society, a Victorian man would have very little in common with his African contemporary.

At the same time, among these so called white pests you had those pioneering individuals who in their adventures with voracious curiosity took the time to not only learn about these strange and foreign cultures and offer insights and commentaries on them, but then also founded the fields of anthropology and archaeology with a view to not only understanding current world cultures of their day but also the ones in the long past. I'm sure as they worked so hard to understand, the cultures of the Indian Subcontinent, Islam, Native American culture, and Africa with it's diverse tribal structures, the ancient Babylonians, Sumerians, and Egyptians cultures and languages. I'm sure they did so out because of a selfish sense of self superiority.