Do you think a world historian today would get away writing a 1000+ page “history of the world” without saying much about the history of Africans and Amerindians? No way. The history of Africans and Amerindians has become a most excellent venue for inflicting guilt upon Whites, denigrating their history, and sanctifying their replacement. Witness what has happened with the finding “of the remains of 215 indigenous children on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops: “In light of this discovery” politicians have decided to accelerate the removal of all the statues of Canada’s founding Prime Minister John A. MacDonald for “his role in setting up the schools” that created a “legacy of abuse…and death”. An “Indigenous figure” will replace MacDonald to signal a new age in Canada without “the dark history” of Whites.
It was not so a few decades ago. Things are changing right before our eyes. J.M. Roberts’s widely acclaimed book, The Penguin History of the World, first published in 1976, with numerous reprintings and revised editions in subsequent years, does not even have separate chapters for Africans and Amerindians in his otherwise 1000+ page book. It is hard to believe this is the most sold and read history of the world.
After Roberts died in 2003, the historian Odd Arne Westad came out with a “completely overhauled” edition in 2014. Westad revised Roberts’s book “throughout in the light of new research and discoveries in our understanding of many civilizations in the Ancient World.”. However, when I compare this edition to my 1995 edition, Africa and the civilizations of pre-Columbian America still remain out of this world history. Westad abided by Robert’s principle that a history of the world should focus on the events, epochs, cultural movements and personalities with the greatest impact on the course of world history. While there is a noticeable increase in the number of pages about the non-European world, the West remains at the forefront in the modern era.
In the Preface to the 1995 edition, Roberts explained why he left out Africa and the Americas, in response to complaints already bubbling up at the time.
Though we still gape in amazement at the ruins of Yucatan and Zimbabwe…they are peripheral to world history: the early centuries of black Africa or the story of pre-Columbian America are…only lightly sketched in these pages. What Europeans later brought back from and did to those continents is a different matter; it has shaped and continues to shape our lives…But nothing in the history of black Africa or the Americas between very remote times and the coming of the Europeans to those continents affected the great world-forming cultural traditions in which the legacies of, say, the Buddha, the Hebrew prophets, Plato and Confucius were for centuries (as they still are today) living and shaping influences on millions of people.
The history of blacks and Amerindians is worthy of note only in the degree to which Europeans impacted them and brought them into the orbit of world history. In this Preface, Roberts recalled a series of films he made in 1985 “for the BBC under the title The Triumph of the West” for which he was criticized for using the word “triumph”. The more he studied world history after this series, “the less I felt misgivings about the recognition I had given to that civilization [West] in this [BBC] account”. The Penguin History of the World does provide excellent chapters on Asian and Middle Eastern civilizations, but once it reaches the modern era, it is overwhelmingly an account of the “triumph of the West”. BBC has deleted this series, but you can find an Audio CD at Amazon.
A History of Art Focused On The White Ideal of Perfection
Are there other justifications for leaving out some people besides their lack of impact on the major patterns of world history? I think so. Let me rephrase the question: are there legitimate reasons for focusing on one civilization more than others? Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation, “made up of the scripts of a series of television programmes given in the spring of 1969” for BBC, suggests that the striving for the “ideal of perfection” should be a major reason. This book is about the history of art, and its focus is entirely on the West. In the opening pages, Clark brings up the contrast between an African mask that “had all the qualities of a great work of art…and the head of the Apollo of Belvedere…the most admired piece of sculpture in the world”.
What he says next is very revealing, and bespeaks of a time not long ago when Whites could express their views openly in the media.
Whatever its merits as a work of art, I don’t think there is any doubt that the Apollo embodies a higher state of civilisation than the mask. They both represent spirits, messengers from another world — that is to say, from a world of our own imagining. To the Negro imagination it is a world of fear and darkness, ready to inflict horrible punishment for the smallest infringement of a taboo. To the Hellenistic imagination it is a world of light and confidence, in which the gods are like ourselves, only more beautiful, and descend to earth in order to teach men reason and the laws of harmony…There was plenty of superstition and cruelty in the Graeco-Roman world. But, all the same, the contrast between these images means something. It means that at certain epochs man has felt conscious of something about himself — body and spirit — which was outside the day-to-day struggle for existence and the night-to-night struggle with fear; and he has felt the need to develop these qualities of thought and feeling so that they might approach nearly as possible to an ideal of perfection — reason, justice, physical beauty, all of them in equilibrium…Western Europe inherited such an ideal. It had been invented in ancient Greece in the fifth century before Christ and was without doubt the most extraordinary creation in the whole of history, so complete, so convincing, so satisfying to the mind and the eye, that it lasted unchanged for six hundred years.
But times have changed. Almost every White household today has an African mask, rarely a Greek or a Roman artistic image. Someone pushed onto Whites the idea that African art is superior. Clark was certainly pushed aside in 2015 by a new 10-part BBC art series headed by the following names: Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga. The goal was to promote a history of art “with the power to change lives” for a Britain that is undergoing immigration replacement.
How we think about history does have the “power to change lives”. The left has always understood this perennial fact in ways that conservatives cannot fathom. The indigenous children on the grounds of a former residential school is a most powerful weapon to impact the psychology of Whites into accepting their replacement and the suppression of the historical reality that they were the founders of the nation nonwhites crave to inhabit and make their own.