The Individual in History

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The Individual in History
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  THE ROLE OF HEROES IN HISTORYPast vs. HistoryPAST: Everything that happened in the past --the events, the people who lived, thethoughts they hadGeoffrey Elton: the past  s  objectivereality is guaranteed; it is beyondbeing altered for any purposewhatsoever.  HISTORY:What is  left   of the past and itsinterpretationsIt exists in:ArtifactsWritten accounts (history books/articles)MemoryThe  left-overs   of the pastTHREE APPROACHES TO HISTORY:EMPIRICIST: History as an area of knowledge is asan endeavor to know the objectivepast?The past is knowable and it isunalterable?There are remnants of the past leftover (primary sources) and the carefulhistorian can fully understand whatactually happenedHistorians should refrain from interpretationand just write down how things happened (Ranke)SKEPTIC:?The past does not exist now, there areonly leftovers, and they can only beinterpreted.?We cannot access the past.PRAGMATIC: Middle ground between the empiricist and skeptic approach-Truth can be known, the past is real-Though we cannot access the past, wecan know real things about it- Of course these things we know arelimited by bias, language, culture, ourpast- But these obstacles can be in largepart overcomeUltimately: Historians have written history through different lenses.  HISTORIOGRAPHYFuray and Salevouris (1988) define historiography as the study of the way history hasbeen and is written   the history of historical writing... When you study 'historiography'you do not study the events of the past directly, but the changing interpretations of thoseevents in the works of individual historians. HAGIOGRAPHY: biography or a book about someone's life that makes it seem better than it really is or was; biography of a saint or ecclesiastical leaderDEMYTHOLOGIZING RIZALNeed to reassess Rizal's work in the context of ongoing fierce class war between the exploited, impoverished majority and the few privileged landlords, bureaucrats, and business moguls patronized by global capitalThe Philippines being re-colonized by the United States under the cover of its global war on terrorism, also labeled Islamic extremism The ASG and the NPA serve as pretexts for perennial US military interventionWhat would Rizal think?Numerous biographies celebrate Rizal as the first Filipino (Guerrero) The pride of the Malay race (Palma) American-made hero (Constantino) Patriot-liberator (Bonoan)The Individual in HistoryEver since the Renaissance, the focus of critical attention has shifted from the cosmic totality to the individualThis solitary individual, the master-narrative hero, occupied center-sage in mapping the heterogeneous process of worldwide social developmentLocke - empiricismHegel - idealism*reinforced the triumph of the property-owner, the profit-obssessed slave-trader and manufacturer, and broker-financier of empire*all events and changes in society were ascribed to individual thoughts and private dcisions, marginalizing its larger contexts in the changes in social relations locally and globally, triggered by profound alterations in the mode of production and reproduction of material life.IN THE CONTEXT OF HISTORY:* History focused on describing heroes and their lives* In so doing, thinkers believed that they have explained and charted the viccisitudes of whole social domains - until Marx  * Marx - restored balance by re-locating individual protagonists in the political economy they inhabit  human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations  *In the ultimate analysis, the individual subject may be viewed as a microcosm of the whole social fabric that generates his potential and his actuality, without which this monadic figure has no meaning or consequence.La Liga FilipinaPalma: the novelty of Rizal  s project of the Liga Filipina became simply  a means to defray the expenses of the colonization of Borneo  Liga was Rizal's praxis (the process by which theory is enacted).By all accounts, the formation of the Liga is the key event marking Rizal  s leap from intellectual gradualism to collective separatism.Formation of the Katipunan - translation of ideas into mass activismSpontaneous mass strikes and actions are blind, ineffectual and self-defeating without the mediation of organic intellectuals and organized leadership Rizal is a social and historical product of his time, actor and acted upon in specific historical circumstances.History is NOT made by  Great Men and Women  , kings and queens, statesmen and politicians.The role of individuals in history cannot be denied.But we need to uncover the dialectical relationship between the individual (the subjective) and the great forces (objective) that govern the movement of society and see this role in its historical context.Plekhanov:  It follows, then, that individuals can influence the fate of society by virtue of definite traits of their nature.  Their influence is sometimes very considerable but the possibility of its being exercised and its extent are determined by society  s organisation and the alignment of its forces. An individual  s character is a  factor   in social development only where, when, and to the extent that social relations permit it to be.   
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