“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”George Orwell, 1984
Many events and personalities are forgotten or their background has somehow been twisted in the annals of history. This is because the winners write the history, and they’d rather talk about themselves in a good light, while smothering the countering points of view.
This is not to say that real history can’t still be uncovered. There exists documents, books and personal accounts that can help us paint a clearer picture of what actually happened.
But documents and personal accounts have their own inherent problems. We are aware that books have been banned, or burned. We also know that some documents have never been made public. There’s also information that was suppressed for a long time, and when it was finally made public, most had already forgotten it existed in the first place. And, of course, some accounts may have been fabricated (by the creator or some other entity) altogether.
Then there’s also the factor of confirmation bias that needs to be accounted for. People will, in general, choose to align with whatever confirms what they already believe in. This is because what we believe in is the foundation of our life, and seeing those beliefs crumble can have devastation consequences on our mental well-being. So, we avoid contradicting evidence as much as possible. Social media only enhances this problem further and causes division among the public. There’s no consensus on almost anything anymore.
All of this makes studying history an arduous task that only a few dare to delve deeper into. It’s hard work and can, in the worst case, be downright scary to discover evidence for something you really don’t want to believe in.
Get it? We don’t want to believe in the contradictory evidence. Everything we know is part of our own belief system. A kind of religion. Quite the personal Jesus you are, aren’t you?
This is why its important to build your beliefs on a solid foundation. Something that can’t easily be shaken when contrary evidence presents itself. This would, of course, require that people humble themselves and admit they don’t know much about anything in the first place, and in fact, neither does anyone else for that matter (myself included!). Everything else is just someone else’s opinion. Just some opinions are built on evidence, logic and reason, while some others seem to be built on belief. Some (many) build their entire lives on belief (hope) alone.
This is not to say simply believing in things doesn’t have its value. Not everything can be proven with evidence. Belief in a greater force (God as an example) can’t necessarily be proven. And some things in life just are what they are, and these concepts you have to develop your own feel for. You can, for example, feel when someone is getting annoyed with you, or when someone is being genuine and happy. Though, feelings can be faked as well.
(Note: If you aren’t great at picking up cues, you should study body language and micro expressions.)
In this article I’ll talk about my own experience with the discovery process, and then I’ll continue the discussion further with some examples of history that have been lost in time. With the introduction already being as lengthy as it is, we better move on.
The Discovery Process
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”George Orwell, 1984
For as far as I can remember, I’ve always been a skeptic. I questioned what I was being told; I questioned what was the point of everything I was being taught. As a result, my days spent in the school system weren’t exactly what one would call successful. (Yet, I managed to graduate from university)
This kind of thinking didn’t help with making friends, either. Going against the grain has its downsides. You will not be popular when you keep pointing things out and asking questions. I guess this is the reason why most don’t do it.
Over time I found myself isolated and left to play with my toys (video games and books). I felt alone, and depressed because nothing made sense. Everyone around me seemed to believe in nonsense (something that has remained mostly unchanged to this day). But I also acknowledged that it could just be me who’s weird and doesn’t belong (this actually also hasn’t changed. I’m most definitely a weirdo. Just these days I own it.).
I couldn’t bring myself to believe what others believed. I had to trust my own intuition. All of this led me down a path of discovery.
One day I was perusing the net, YouTube specifically. I hadn’t really paid much attention to religion before this time, as it didn’t make any sense to me. It didn’t occur to me some people took it all seriously. “It’s just a story, so who cares?,” I thought.
Not only did I discover that there are people who take religion seriously, but I also found out that some vehemently opposed religion. My default stance (confirmation bias) was that religion doesn’t make sense, but I couldn’t quite articulate why. So, I wanted to hear someone say what I was thinking, but couldn’t put into words. I discovered the atheist movement on YouTube, more specifically the “four horsemen” of atheism: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett. From these, especially Christopher Hitchens caught my ear.
Christopher Hitchens was an English (later moved to America) journalist and an author. He was well-read on history, sciences and seemingly all religions. He actually took the time to read and research all the topics he was talking about. This was self-evident to anyone who read his books or heard him speak.
Hitchens often debated various religious thought-leaders. From the point of view of someone who doesn’t believe in God, he would always, confidently and handily, win the arguments. Here’s an example:
(Here’s a full debate (YouTube video; not the same as above clip) if you are interested in hearing both sides of the argument.)
I got to hear both sides of the argument through these debates, and was impressed how easily Hitchens destroyed all counter-arguments. The best the opposition could manage were ad hominems (attacks on character (rather than position or argument), and appealing to emotions rather than logic and reason). There even exists a popular saying online: “Hitchslap,” which simply means someone lost an argument to the great Hitch himself.
I was enamoured by his intellect, logic and thinking, so I eventually downloaded a file containing all of his essays, debates and books (over 100 GB in size… an extremely large file at the time, which is perhaps the reason why I no longer have it). I read and listened to everything he had to say.
Having done this, I can’t say I support everything he ever said or wrote. He supported the war in Iraq, for example. He had both good and bad takes, with his points on religion being the most brilliant work he ever did.
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.”Aldous Huxley
Other than his books on religion, there was also one other book that caught my attention. It was called “No One Left to Lie to: The Values of the Worst Family,” in which Hitchens made some serious claims about the Clintons, and specifically about Bill Clinton. His book argued: “(Bill) Clinton was at once philanderer and philistine, crooked and corrupt.” I kept this in mind.
Later on I ran into this video clip:
I highly recommend watching the clip. It’s short.
Why did she lie about this? What’s the point? The answer is: there was no point. She lied just to lie. A pathological liar. Ever since discovering this, I’ve been dubious about politicians in general.
There’s also the famous joke: How do you know a politician is lying? His lips are moving. It’s famous, because its true.
I’ve since learned more about the Clintons. Whatever I hear or read about them, its not good. I can’t believe she got so close to becoming the President. Trump wasn’t much better, but if you had to choose between him and either of the Clintons (after doing the necessary research), there was no competition between the two. That being said, I’ve since lost faith in nearly all electoral processes. My hope is there are still some honest politicians left, but all I see is two sides of the same coin everywhere. An individual “good apple” (not necessarily referring to Trump) won’t change things.
But, and I have to say this, looking into the background of the Clintons serves more as a distraction than anything else. You can look up dirt on them. There’s loads of it in fact. The problem is… if you do the same due diligence with other politicians (as demonstrated in the previous article, The Paradigm Shift) you will find that things don’t get much better on either side of the aisle. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. I’ll just say I’m disappointed with most (especially mainstream) politicians. Maybe some of you aren’t rotten to the core, but that’s a big maybe. (I also know some of you dingdongs read my articles :))
Christopher Hitchens died on December 15th, 2011 due to cancer-related pneumonia. As he died, he left a void in the hearts and minds of many, myself included. It hit me hard at the time. Oh, how I wish he and George Carlin were still here.
With this void in place, I began searching for other voices of reason.
I got introduced to Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris through Hitchens. I listened to their debates and read their work as well. They’re brilliant in their own right and in their own fields, but when it came to religion, they clearly were just coat-tailing on the success of Christopher.
Another person I was introduced to was Peter Hitchens (Christopher’s brother). He was a writer, a columnist and a thinker much like his brother, but there was a key difference between the two: Peter believed in God. And they even had this one debate with one another:
This was one of the best debates I’ve ever had the pleasure to sit through. Peter later said that he didn’t enjoy debating his brother, but I wish they had done so more often publicly.
Peter was one of the few who managed to stand his ground against Christopher. It was a pleasure through and through, and it made me (finally) understand that the debates between the religious and the atheists were, for the most part, pointless.
The debates were about each others personal beliefs (let me tell you why I believe what I believe). The atheists would win the arguments, because they used the Bible as the base (which is full of horrible things to point out). The religious, on the other hand, believe in a divine being, the creator of the universe, and this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the Bible (or equivalent in other religions). They could never have come to a conclusion about things, because the other side used logic and reasoning to debate matters of faith and belief.
Thanks to this, I’ve been able to come to my own conclusions about things. I see the failings of the Bible (although, at the same time I’ve started to realize you aren’t supposed to take it literally), and I also understand all the mess organised religion can (and do) cause. But I also see why religion and belief in “something greater” is necessary. Thanks to Yuri Bezmenov and various authors (Mostly Russian, especially Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) I realized that without religion there are other, rather dangerous beliefs that pop up.
The first dangerous belief is that there’s no meaning to life. This is an existential question that many have lost countless hours pondering. If there is a God (or some other similar entity), it means that everything has a meaning; the point of life is life itself. If there’s no God, it means you have to create your own meaning in life. But what’s the ultimate point to life in that case?
Note: In a way, the belief in the “butterfly effect” means that everything has a meaning. Nothing is random, even though it may appear to be so. What is the world if not a giant example of the butterfly effect? The only constant is chaos (and the dead); trying to control it is a fool’s errand.
The first dangerous belief leads to the other dangerous belief(s): people must (and will) always believe in something. Otherwise there’s no basis (=meaning) to their life (some actually reach this conclusion, which often leads to self-harm and/or nihilism). If there is no religion (no belief in God), it gets replaced with something else. Such as? Trust (belief) in science, the scientific process and politics. Science(s) and politics have replaced God. Science, after all, is just another belief.
People today have replaced religion with the belief in science. Science will fix everything, and it offers the solution to all of our problems, or at least that’s the belief. But what if the science is wrong? What if politics are wrong? Well, let me tell you, science is ever evolving, and so its often wrong. Politics? The thought of a politician being correct (and not lying) makes me guffaw.
There’s also the term “politically correct,” which is just pure nonsense at best. You are either correct, or wrong, and it has -nothing- to do with politics. Since there is more than one political party (or is there?), what’s politically correct changes with the times.
Note: when politics replace God, it usually means Marxism/collectivism is fast approaching. The belief in the state: the belief in that the Party is always right.
If the Party is always right, you better hope they have your best interest in mind. In other words: you are hoping people in power position(s) are as altruistic as you may be. If you think that, I’ve got some bad news for you. Meet the Stanford Prison Experiment (science!):
Needless to say, the foundation on these (science, politics) is on shaky grounds. Science isn’t always wrong, but it can be used for nefarious purposes if people believe it’s always right. The same goes for politics. Combination of the two? Horror show. Both of these must be questioned.
Note: Logic and reason (if done correctly) offer a sound base. What is based on logic and reason? Mathematics... But the problem is, we can’t “believe” in something we all just have to agree on. That’s no fun, and a system built around math alone would mean humans are no different from a robot. It leaves no room for individuality.
That leaves history (if God is out of the picture). History is something we all can agree on! … Right? WRONG.
History isn’t settled. And next we’ll spend some time pondering questions related to our past.
The Sands of Time: Japan Revisited
“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal.
Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.
They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.”Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited
We’re approaching dangerous waters. I’ve noticed that the powers that be really hate it when you question things, especially if those things have anything to do with the ‘already agreed upon’ history. Perhaps there was something to what Orwell and Huxley were saying.
Other than European and American history, I’ve also looked into Japanese history. I never heard anything major regarding eastern history while I was in school, so I’ve done most the research out of self-interest, and seemingly for no real gain.
Japan interests me in particular because its an island. Islands rely on trade, which is another one of my interests (trade and finance). Their language is unique, and it shares similarities with Finnish language (the sounds are similar and there are things like double consonants in both languages). A Finn will have no problem pronouncing Japanese words, which is both weird and fun. On top of this, kanji (one of their writing systems) is the equivalent to modern day hieroglyphs: each one carries meaning beyond mere words. Their culture and history are both vast and endlessly interesting. In short, what’s not to like?
There’s one part of Japanese history that’s well-known all around the world, and its the story of Oda Nobunaga. He was the driving force behind the unification of Japan (he was successful in unifying half of the country). The most common way he is portrayed in modern culture (games, anime, manga etc.) is that he was a mysterious, warmongering and power hungry daimyo, which also earned him the title “Demon Daimyo/King.” (He was all of these things.)
But, clearly, if he was so successful in unifying Japanese forces, there must have been something more to it than him just being a tyrant. And there was.
Japan’s leadership at the time believed in Buddhism (Buddhism and Shintoism being the major religions at the time). The times were turbulent and war was a constant. People had grown tired of this and they were looking for a redeemer.
Before Japan’s unification, the country was split into various areas of control. Some were more powerful than others, and there was no room for leniency. This might help explain the whole samurai culture. They had to show loyalty and be obedient (to the point of committing seppuku in case of failure). It had to be this way because another battle might’ve been just around the corner. There was no time for leisure.
Sengoku period lasted from year 1467 to 1603 (some say until 1615), and Oda Nobunaga’s rule lasted from year 1551 until 1582. This was also the period when Europeans had finally made their way to eastern parts of the world. The Portuguese in particular, together with their galleons, were eager to trade with the Japanese.
The Japanese were, in general, suspicious of the foreigners. Oda Nobunaga, on the other hand, was a revolutionary thinker. He had a vision of a united and a more open Japan, and so he welcomed the trade with the Europeans.
But the Europeans didn’t come with just your ordinary goods for trade. The main export was the Christian religion. It didn’t take long for the Japanese to start converting to Christianity; In just 35 years after the first missionaries arrived in Japan, more than 150,000 Japanese had already been baptized. Nobunaga didn’t convert into Christianity himself, which makes me think he used the religion as more of a political tool during his conquest. Either way, he was the one who allowed it to happen. He opened up Japan to the rest of the world (other than Asia) and allowed different religions (and with it, ways of thinking) penetrate Japanese minds.
So, the question was: continue fighting endlessly with foreign (yet, domestic) enemies, or unite Japan and put aside the differences? I can’t imagine this was a hard sell in many cases, which is why Oda’s campaign gained traction. He was popular among his men for a reason.
Despite his popularity, or perhaps because of it, he was ultimately betrayed by one of his allies, Akechi Mitsuhide. Nobunaga’s death is a mystery; his remains were never found. Nobody but apparently his aide saw him die, and then he died together with his master. Quite the ghost story. The fact that the story of the great Oda Nobunaga ends in this manner makes me question the validity of his existence, but I’ll let that slide this time, considering there’s enough evidence of his presence from other sources. What I’m trying to point out is that there was more to the story than just him being the “Demon King.” The winners write our history.
Oda Nobunaga was succeeded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who along with Tokugawa Ieyasu united Japan by 1600, with Tokugawa becoming the Shogun in 1603. This is where the Tokugawa period begins (1603-1867).
The Tokugawa period is traditionally well-known for being a peaceful period in Japan. On this topic I recommend the book “A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present,” by Andrew Gordon. The book gives a great description of every day life in Japan during this period and beyond. It also discusses how rice was used as a currency (taxes were also paid in rice) together with precious metals, and how exchange rates together with foreign trade eventually crushed the economy.
But what I want to discuss in this article is the claim that this was a mostly peaceful period. In terms of there not being wars, you could say things improved, but that’s an easy claim to make once the country had been united and borders had been closed. In reality, Shogunates had always been and continued to be hereditary dictatorships. This is also where I start to question whether the fate (and portrayal in history) of Oda Nobunaga was truly as they claim.
Did Nobunaga’s allies truly support him, or did they just want the power (over the entire country) for themselves?
First, lets discuss the 200-year ban on foreigners, also known as sakoku. In 1635 an Act of Seclusion was written in order to halt the spreading of Christianity. By this time the amount of Christians in Japan had risen to about 300,000, and this was perceived as a credible threat by the Japanese leaders.
The act included the following:
- No Japanese ships were allowed to be sent abroad.
- No Japanese (person) was allowed to be sent abroad. Violation of this prohibition resulted in death penalty.
- All Japanese currently residing abroad were put to death upon arrival back to Japan.
- All Christians were to be “examined” by officials.
- Information regarding Christians was rewarded greatly (100 pieces of silver was rewarded to those who had information on Christian priests, for example).
- Arrival of Foreign ships had to be reported, and their movement watched.
- All Spanish and Portuguese Christians were incarcerated.
- Even ships were to be destroyed to make sure anything “Christian” got exterminated.
- Children born of the Portuguese or Spaniards were to be put to death. Even in case of adoption.
- The Samurai weren’t allowed to trade with foreigners.
This act was followed up by another in act in 1639, which specifically targeted the Portuguese. This was mostly because of the Jesuit Christians priests aboard their ships, who carried out “evil acts” according to the Japanese leaders.
A couple of questions:
What were the motifs for these acts?
Why the Japanese leadership considered Christianity to be such a credible threat?
I’m not sure whether we’ll ever get the answer to these questions, but here’s a documentary that touches this topic:
Other than the seclusion act, the Japanese suffered greatly under the new rule:
“The economic and social evidence for the 150 years that followed this seventeenth century boom presents an apparent riddle of simultaneous stagnation and vitality. On the negative side of the ledger, one is first struck by the shrinking of the largest cities in the heart of the main island, castle towns in particular. Data available from thirtyseven major castle towns show an average loss of population of 18 percent from 1700 to 1850. Cities in the economically advanced southwestern provinces suffered the most severe population loss. The only growing towns were in remote locations.” (A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, p. 27)
Peasant uprisings were ever-present during the Tokugawa rule due to the worsening conditions. Between 1600-1700 there were approximately 4.2 protests per year, and things continued to get worse year after year. By the end of the rule, more than 20 uprisings per year were recorded between 1851 and 1867. (Peasant Protests and Uprising in Tokugawa Japan, Vlastos)
This is not unlike the times elsewhere in the world. If you take look at Europe, for example, there were many petty wars as well as peasant uprising during this time in history. In this regard, the Tokugawa era was still relatively peaceful.
(Side note: I’d like to read more on this topic in Japanese if you have any suggestions.)
Part of the reason why I bring all this up is because “stagnation” seems to be a historical fact for the Japanese.
Here’s modern day Japan:
As you can see, Japanese economy peaked in the early 90’s. Ever since then the Japanese economy has suffered from stagflation, despite all the currency printing. Economists use the argument of Japan’s economy as an example of why printing currency is not inflationary. Not so fast.
Here’s Japan today:
As we can see, things are about to change – even in Japan. I read worrying articles about what’s going to happen in Japan in the news:
The Japanese government is now pondering cash hand-outs to children under 18, which would mean handing out 100,000 yen (~880 dollars) to each qualifying children (one of the most unproductive areas of a society). It’s not a great idea. But, believe it or not, they’ve come up with an even worse idea:
The Japanese government offering stimulus to companies that increase their wages. Right, we’ve looked at “unintended consequences” in my previous article, “Thinking Critically With Thomas Sowell,” and this decision will most definitely have unintended consequences. Or perhaps these are the intended consequences.
Traditionally, the way to fix inflation is as follows: “The cure for high prices, are high prices.” This simply means that because people can’t afford to buy whatever is too expensive at the time (supply constraints), they will buy something else instead. The reason for this is because wages do not keep up with the rate of inflation… and because it’s just smart not to buy the most expensive thing all the time.
Now, what do you think will happen when you incentivise, together with additional stimulus, companies to increase their wages? Japan is about to get the inflation they so desperately wanted, and then some.
The Bank of Japan (a central bank) was established in 1882 (here’s the brief history in case you’re interested). What a disaster it has been.
Oh boy. I don’t have much to say about this. So here’s a song instead:
Let’s move on to another topic.
The Iron Fist
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”Aldous Huxley
I’ve read Hitler’s book. It’s quite the read. It’s also among the most banned books in the world.
World War II was one of the most devastating wars fought on the planet by any records. It also was a truly global war that was fought on nearly all continents. Even Latin America chipped in, while not necessarily being the target of the war at the time.
If you read the book, you will better understand the way he thought (though, some say it wasn’t written by him at all). The English translation apparently is also of much better quality than the German version. Either way, the context presented in the book doesn’t change.
The book starts with his own personal story. How he grew up, and how he wanted to become a painter. If you search for his paintings online, you’ll probably be surprised. Alas, he never became a professional painter as he was denied entry to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. They suggested he should become an architect instead.
Then the book goes on to talk about his views of the world, and how he handled different situations. He goes on to specifically point out how he had trouble understanding the Democratic Socialists who believed in Marxism, and how debating them is pointless. He came to the conclusion that the only way to make them to listen is to use force.
Next he began talking about the Jews, but not just any Jews, but a specific group of them: the Zionists. Initially you get the idea that he saw all the Jews as dirty and greedy, but the real problem was that the other Jews didn’t condemn the acts of the other sects of their religion.
Other problem related to the Jews was that while he was in Vienna, he noticed how everything was owned by the Jews: the news, the banks and even the smaller shops were somehow connected to the Jews. This might have been true in Vienna, as it had quite a large population of Jews at the time (around 10% of the entire population). (as you can probably tell by the amount of times the word “Jew” was mentioned, he really had a problem with them.)
The book goes on and he starts talking about all the usual things connected to him, including genocidal thoughts.
What I got from the book and what I’ve read and heard about Hitler, he was an extremely charismatic leader. It also seems he really wanted Germany and Germans to prosper (the whole Aryan master race and all that). But his methods of accomplishing his plans were misguided.
Attempting to replace one type of socialism with another type of socialism doesn’t work. In fact, it didn’t work, as history has demonstrated. Also, force is not the only way to affect someone’s mind.
However, I think he successfully identified the problem with Marxism and Communism. And this is the reason why Japan and later Italy joined Germany to create the “Axis of Power,” during the Second World War. Mussolini stated he didn’t like Hitler’s book, and even called the ideas in the book as “coarse” and “simplistic,” which is something I agree with. The Japanese, on the other hand, might have enjoyed some of Hitler’s ideas (where Japan would control the whole of Asia in the future), but more than that they had their personal reasons for joining the Axis of Power.
When the League of Nations was formed in 1920, it had been particularly unfair towards Japan. They allowed Britons to continue their atrocities in Africa, while at the same time demanding that Japan stop their oppressive behaviour in Manchukuo. On top of this, Japan had also identified the threat of the Soviet Union.
So, for the most part, the only unifying force between the nations seemed to have been the rise of Communism. The problem they had identified was not entirely unfounded. History has shown that Communism ended up killing anything from tens to hundred+ million people during the course of its existence. In contrast, 70 to 85 million people died during the Second World War. The difference is, Communism doesn’t require war to be present for it to be deadly.
Then there’s problem of what happened after the war. There are multiple problems with how things progressed from there. Here’s a documentary on “Operation Paperclip”:
None of this redeems what Hitler did, but as you can see, there’s more to the story than just the “Jews are bad” mantra.
Before we end this chapter, here’s a photo:
“I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.”Aldous Huxley
History is more complicated than what’s immediately noticeable on the surface. There are questions you can ask and find answers to if you dig deep enough.
I’ll just point out something that should get you thinking.
Jews are not allowed to charge interest when lending to other Jews, but they are allowed to do so in the case of lending to non-Jews. This is the reason why Jews are often chosen as managers of banks. Most other major religions in the West prohibit this kind of activity, or at least are supposed to.
Now, there are many Christian bankers as well, as you might have noticed. Clearly, they do not care about what’s written in the Bible. This is not the only teaching from the Bible that Christians forgot.
But there’s an exception: the Islamic banking system, where charging interest is strictly forbidden. Islam has its own problems (all organised religions do), but at least one can’t say they’re not taking their holy text seriously.
Organised religion has been used as a political tool throughout history. It has been the cause of many conflicts, and even wars have been fought over religion. Even the banking system is, to some degree, subject to religious undertones.
History is complicated, but understanding the underlying systems can help with deciphering what the historical context was at any given time. The wars themselves aren’t all that important after the fact. What caused the war is, and continues to be important far into the future.
“The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel