History Wars

George Orwell once said, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” Quite so. It has always been a hallmark of the totalist state to control education and to rewrite history. Those who can alter the past will be able to manipulate the future.

Sadly democratic states are not immune from allowing education in general and history in particular to be dominated by those pushing agendas. For decades now mass education in the West has largely been in the hands of the secular left, and they have been quite happy to push their own politically correct agendas in all areas, including history.

For years now students in all levels of education have been subject to a fairly one-eyed view of things, including history. With so much education today being little more than indoctrination, no wonder that so many parents have voted with their feet and put their kids in private schools, or resorted to homeschooling.

Recent announcements about a new draft national history curriculum for Australian schools may result in even more parents making the move out of the public education system. A number of historians have warned that this curriculum appears to be yet more leftist propaganda masquerading as education.

Here is how one press account introduces the story: “Historians say the new national modern history curriculum for schools reads like a Marxist manifesto that ignores popular aspects of our past and neglects Australia’s role in world politics and war. The course, designed for years 11 and 12, is heavily focused on revolutionary struggles, colonial oppression and women’s struggle for equality.

“It neglects Australia’s British roots and institutions and its military history, with no mention of Gallipoli, Tobruk or Kokoda, the experts say. The draft lists World War I as a potential case study in ‘investigating modern history’. It lists ‘controversies surrounding … memorial sites and commemorative events’ as an area of study but does not mention Gallipoli or the battle of Fromelle.

“In a topic headed ‘Australia 1880-1945’, the draft lists ‘the formation of organised labour’, ‘White Australia’ and ‘wartime government controls, including conscription, control of the labour force, rationing, censorship and propaganda’. But it does not mention the settlement of Australia or the deeds of the first AIF in World War I.”

Various historians have weighed into the debate. Geoffrey Blainey for example has said that the draft curriculum seems to offer a “left-wing view of Australian history”. Historian Andrew Garvie said the course lacked a balanced view of history: “This appears to be a very trendy, right-on curriculum. It looks heavily influenced by a Marxist view of history – there’s lots about revolution and struggles against oppression.”

And education expert “Dr Kevin Donnelly said the new curriculum had put indigenous and Asian content and perspectives ahead of Australia’s Anglo-Celtic tradition, the debt we owe to Western civilisation and the importance of our Judeo-Christian heritage. Dr Donnelly said the curriculum contained 118 references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culture and history – with grade 5s studying White Australia and grade 9s Aboriginal massacres and displacement. There is just one reference to Parliament and none to Westminster or the Magna Carta.”

Donnelly said Education Minister Julia Gillard and other defenders of the curriculum are amiss to dismiss concerns about bias. “They’re wrong. Anyone reading the two syllabus documents, covering kindergarten to year 10 and years 11 and 12, can be left in no doubt that schools across Australia will soon be forced to teach a new-age and politically correct view of history and Australia’s place in the world.

“History, like every other subject in the national curriculum, has to be taught through the politically correct prism of Aboriginal, Asian and environmental perspectives. Forget the importance of Australia’s Western heritage or the impact of science, technology and industry in overcoming poverty and eradicating disease.”

Consider Australia’s religious makeup, and how the new curriculum seeks to rewrite this important topic: “In the years K-10 curriculum students are told to study the ‘contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the Australian nation’, the ‘significance of Dreaming and the perspectives and meaning in Dreaming stories’ and to ‘explain the key features of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies’.

“In the 29 pages of the K-10 syllabus, ‘Christendom’ is mentioned once and ‘Christian’ also once, but only in the context of studying other religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Judaism and Islam. Ignored is that Indigenous Australians, according to the 2006 census, account for only 2.6 per cent of the population and that Australia’s language, political and legal systems and culture are Anglo-Celtic in origin and based on the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage.

“Based on 1999 figures 70 per cent of Australians describe themselves as Anglo-Celtic in origin and according to the 2007 census 64 per cent of Australians are Christians. It’s no accident that sessions of parliament begin with the Lord’s Prayer and that Christian morality underpins much of our way of life.”

Yet all this will be significantly downplayed or ignored altogether if the historical revisionists get their way. And what will be played up is the leftist version of events: “Asking students to study ‘organised labour, including the union movement and the ALP’ while ignoring the origins of the Liberal Party is clear evidence of bias. Likewise, ignoring America’s role in World War II in Europe and the Pacific reflects an anti-American sentiment widespread amongst the left.

“That the history curriculum appears to have been written by cultural warriors of the left most likely explains why, on studying the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, that McCarthyism is mentioned, but not Stalin’s purges or the role of Ronald Reagan in defeating what he termed the evil empire.”

Of course all this is not happening by accident. The Left has always known that to control the institution of education, along with the other centres of power and influence (like the media, the courts, and the churches) is a powerful means by which to win the revolution without firing a shot.

Indeed, we already have plenty of examples of Marxist Antonio Gramsci’s scheme of taking over a culture by means of the “long march through the institutions”. What we see here is simply more of the same. No bullets will be fired, but the overthrow of a culture will be just as assured as if a full-frontal violent revolution took place.

This is what is known as the culture wars, and the history wars are but one part of this. The secular left seems to never rest in its attempt to capture the West for its agenda. Those concerned about this struggle over the soul of the West need to be just as diligent.


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20 Replies to “History Wars”

  1. Accurate History was and is a massive emphasis in Biblical tradition, the Israelites were commanded by God to teach accurate History of what God did among their fathers. The Biblical narrative (OT and NT) is heavily dependent upon true History and acts as an important apologetic for the truthfulness of the Gospel.

    So the subject of accurate and clear history should be important and relevant to the Christian. Unfortunately the Socialist agenda has infiltrated the Church originally through ‘Higher Criticism’ and later through branches of the ‘Emergent’ movement and others, where Biblical Inerrancy has been redefined to mean the Bible is inerrant ONLY on matters of faith and practice. This means that God is very careful to tell us the truth in regards to how a Christian should live, but sloppy when incidentally or peripherally referring to matters in the areas of Science (ie cosmology and creation) and History.

    Joshua Ferrara

  2. Thanks Joshua

    Yes you are quite right about the heavy emphasis put on history in Scripture. History is in fact His Story, and there is great emphasis in the Bible on not forgetting, and on remembering all that God has done in history.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  3. Thanks Bill.
    I suspected that this would be the case. No mention of Keith Windschuttle as an advisor to the curriculum committee either. His magisterial works on “the Fabrication of Aboriginal History” will be regarded as too contrary to the leftist agenda, despite the enormous first-hand investigation of original sources which he invokes in his writings.
    Yes, if a nation does not know its past, it will be at the mercy of the philistines in the present who seek to manipulate the populace to their designs. This so-called “curriculum”, or Marxist party-piece, only motivates me to get a wriggle on with my biography of Rev. Samuel Marsden, and editing of a selection of his sermons, which has been on hold for a couple of years due to other pressures.
    One other thing: I know of several history teachers in the Christian school movement who would be quite happy to teach this in that context, merely add a little Christian flavouring, and call the result a truly Christian outlook. The political left has invaded the Christian schools!!
    Murray R. Adamthwaite

  4. Murray A’s comments are quite correct. Current teachers, Christians or not, have all been influenced by the subtle shifts some of us began noticing in the secondary syllabuses from the 1970’s, after the Universities’ seemingly deliberate shifts of emphasis at that time. This was driven largely by the intelligentsia’s reaction to the Vietnam and Cold War conflicts. A centralised syllabus will offer very little room for independent-thinking teachers or students to move. Objectivity in any teaching is impossible to carry through completely, but it seems the new courses have deliberately ignored any attempt at objectivity, critical thinking or ascertaining the truth.
    Lindsay Smail

  5. Hi Bill.
    Of course it is social engineering 101,and changing history is to change a generation. In my book it an assault against the God of truth and an attempt to change reality.
    In our local town schools have been amalgamated (especially chosen amongst about ten others in the state) as part of a new experiment in learning. Build a new environment for learning, which channels students to only ask certain questions (he who controls the questions in turn controls the answers), and hence the students arrive at a certain outcome. And the child and their parents think the child has arrived there all by their own “higher order thinking skills. Surprise surprise, welcome to our Soviet style education system imported from the USA.
    Should be called Brain washing 101.
    And the man behind this new history agenda, a dyed in the wool Marxist.
    What is it Julia Gillard calls it, “a new revolution in education?” Its not new, it is as old as the fall and questioning what God has said, through history.
    Rob Withall

  6. In all sincerity, God help us if Gillard becomes PM. Her leftwing/humanistic leanings will well and truly come to the fore.
    Wayne Pelling

  7. What do you expect when you have neo-Marxist historian and leading ‘stolen generations’ propogandist Stuart Macintyre of Melbourne university deeply involved in drawing up the curriculum?
    Damien Spillane

  8. “This is just another glaring example of how brainwashing and indoctrination have increasingly replaced education in our school system. We seem not to be concerned about getting our kids to think, to read, to count, and to master basic concepts. Instead, we seem to want our children to be PC zombies, all mouthing and living the same PC dictates.

    Such cookie-cutter indoctrination was of course the stuff of the former communist police states. But it should have no place in a modern democratic nation.

    This story in fact is just another very timely example of what Education Minister Julie Bishop complained about last week when she spoke of a left-wing dominance of our school system. Is it any wonder that so many parents are voting with their feet and putting their kids in private schools or resorting to home-schooling?


    So true!!! http://achs.cem.org.au/

    Donna Opie

  9. Typical left wing trash and hyprocrisy! – what a shame the majority of Australians cannot pull their recalcitrant heads out of the sand and look a little deeper into these things – I have my ear to the ground about the stuff that my son does at his high school and so far so good- none of this stuff has yet (touch wood) surfaced but the moment I see it I will be telling him the real truth about history, and I will not be afraid to tell him the truth about what he is reading or being taught. Thankfully I have my sons respect and his ear on things in general so at least he will listen to me.
    Steve Davis

  10. ‘Focus on the Family’ has a terrific study called ‘The Truth Project’. Part of that program looks at the historical revisionism that has taken place in the USA and discusses the drive and implications of such a move, all pretty much driven by the same political agendas as Bill mentions in his article.

    I completed a degree at University a couple of years ago and was continually frustrated at the perverted and false views of Australian history being presented (along with everything else). The agenda was obvious but it was not too difficult to find texts which answered the many distorted claims. (I will admit I was surprised that I received a passing grade on some of my papers as I outright disagreed with the lecturer. A typical comment was that while they disagreed with my conclusions, I had at least argued it well. I wonder if I was 18, and not 40, would I have received the same response?) My biggest concern through this whole process was that kids were being taught this as fact with no life experience or knowledge to begin to question it.

    Having said that I was often surprised as some of the younger students did disagree with the lecture material, while some of the mature students thought it all wonderful and enlightening.

    Thanks Bill, you are in our prayers.

    Greg Randles

  11. I have been debating this on the ABC Unleashed. My problem with Donnelly criticism is that it comes from an extremist right wing position. The name calling of those to the left of him (which is about everyone) is wrong. It is not a Marxist history – that would concentrate on economic history. It is a main stream history focused on what is perceived as our future.

    Donnelly is right about the lack of understanding of religion in the history curriculum. You cannot understand the history of Aboriginal white relations without understanding Christianity. Harris book One Blood needs to be every high school library.

    Michael Boswell

  12. The ideology of the Frankfurt School uses many weapons of mass cultural destruction to expunge our roots:
    Control of the language.
    Control of the Bible
    Control of History
    Control of the Media
    Control of Education
    Circulation of Pornography
    Control of the most intimate and private relations between men and women – the restructuring of the family.

    The principle human instruments for this are various black militants (like Sir Trevor Phillips who is head of the Equality and Human Rights in Britain), radical feminists and homosexual activists.

    The roots of cultural Marxism go back a long way. They have not come out of thin air – self evident truths, but neither have they been formally taught but instead have been breathed in through the atmosphere. They are the zeitgeist. Since this philosophy proposes that there is no fixed absolute point from which to observe the movement of history, and since according to evolution there is no intelligence, will or personality behind matter and creation, people have become fatalistic, believing only in chance. Feeling helpless to alter the direction of history, people become apathetic and finally paralysed. They lose all sovereignty over their lives and succumb to their political tyrants. As Francis Schaeffer says in “The God who is There”: “The mass of people may not enter an art museum, may never read a serious book. If you were to explain the drift of modern thought to them, they might not be able to understand it; but this does not mean they are not influenced by the things they see and hear- including the cinema.”

    David Skinner, UK

  13. I have just finished going through Kings and Chronicles and the thought struck me that it is not just the West expunging its own history, but many of us Christians are ignorant of Judah’s rise and downfall. It seems that we have forgotten that God deals not only with individuals but nations. We have lost the ability to conceive that God has the power to deal with us on a national scale. For those who say that the Old Testament is irrelevant, I say that we need to learn the lessons of King Josiah and what happened to the last four kings of Judah. Josiah’s reforms pre-dated the signing of the Magna Carta and the American Constitution and were God centred rather than man centred.

    David Skinner, UK

  14. Always remember folks that some pigs are more equal than others!
    Anna Cook

  15. Anna, perhaps you mean chickens.The pecking order runs as follows: Those with who have collected most human rights coupons are the homosexuals; next are the transsexuals and transgenders; next are the feminists; fourth are foreigners; fifth are Muslims, satanists and the greens; sixth are the disabled and finally, coming in at seventh are the aged. These are called the seven strands of the Equality Diversity and Human Rights. Perhaps animal rights come in at eighth position but Christians and the unborn have no rights at all.
    It means that a transgendered, gypsy inuit, lesbian satanist who is deaf trumps the rights of everyone.

    David Skinner, UK

  16. One thing to note that such ‘left-wing history’ isn’t just at schools.
    In the mid-1990’s, I did an Applied Science (Cartography) degree at RMIT Uni in Melbourne. Part of the requirement was that we had to do 3 ‘Context Curriculum’ subjects (ie. unrelated to our degree) and outside of the faculty we were in. Thus, with an interest in astronomy, I couldn’t do a subject on astrophysics.
    In the end, 2 of the 3 I did were of interest – one on science & technology; the other on use of computers/IT (I’m a bit of a geek).
    The third was different – it was on Australian history and very much from a left-wing viewpoint. As a guide, we had a book called “Images of Australia” with the viewpoints from various left-wing (feminist, multicultural, Aboriginal) groups. The only reason that I (and a number of my classmates) did this particular subject was that it fitted in best with other subjects we had when sorting out lecture times.

    John Cleverdon, Mornington Peninsula

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