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Historical revisionism is either the legitimate scholastic re-examination of existing knowledge about a historical event, or the illegitimate distortion of the historical record such that certain events appear in a more or less favorable light. For the former, i.e. the academic pursuit, see historical revisionism. This article deals solely with the latter, the distortion of history, which—if it constitutes the denial of historical crimes—is also sometimes called negationism.
In attempting to revise the past, illegitimate historical revisionism appeals to the intellect—via techniques illegitimate to historical discourse—to advance a given interpretive historical view, typically involving war crimes or crimes against humanity. The techniques include presenting known forged documents as genuine; inventing ingenious, but implausible, reasons for distrusting genuine documents; attributing his or her own conclusions to books and sources reporting the opposite; manipulating statistical series to support the given point of view; and deliberately mis-translating texts (in languages other than the revisionist's). Practical examples of negationism (illegitimate historical revisionism) include Holocaust denial and some Soviet historiography. Contemporarily, hate groups practice negationism on the Internet. In literature, the effects of historical revisionism are usually described in science fiction novels such as Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell. Moreover, some countries have criminalised the negationist revision of certain historical events, while other countries mandate negationist views.
Historical revisionism is conducted to influence a target’s ideology and/or politics for a particular purpose. Revisionists understand Plato’s dictum that, "those who tell the stories also hold the power." Sometimes the purpose is as innocent as wanting to sell more books or attract attention with a startling headline. Often, however, that purpose is to achieve a nation’s aims by transferring war guilt, demonizing an enemy, providing an illusion of victory, or preserving friendship. James M. McPherson, President of the American Historical Association in 2003, wrote that some would want revisionist history understood as, "a consciously falsified or distorted interpretation of the past to serve partisan or ideological purposes in the present." Broadly understood, there are two motivations behind revisionist history: the ability to control ideological influence and to control political influence.
Historical revisionists ..."seem to have been given a collective task in [a] nation's cultural development, the full significance of which is emerging only now: to redefine [a nation’s] status in a changing world." History is a tool that contributes to the shaping of national identity, cultures, and memories. Through the study of history, individuals are imbued with a particular identity. By revising history, therefore, one has the ability to specifically craft that ideological identity. Because historians are credited as people who single-mindedly pursue truth, revisionist historians capitalize on the profession’s credibility and present their pseudohistory as true scholarship. By adding a measure of credibility to their work, their ideas are more readily accepted in the public mind. To an extent, historical revisionism is recognized as ‘truth-seekers’ finding different truths to fit the needed political, social, or ideological context.
History provides insight into past political trends and helps predict political implications of the present. Revisionism can be used to cultivate specific politically motivated myths – sometimes with official consent. Self-taught, amateur, or dissident academic historians manipulate and/or misrepresent historical accounts to achieve deliberate political ends. Herodotus, for example, wrote his version of history to gather political support for the Greek system of government over the aggressive Persian despot. Also, Communism and Soviet historiography treated reality and the party line as one and the same, employing historical revisionism to advance a specific political (and ideological) agenda.
Most (if not all) of the techniques used in historical revisionism are used for the purpose of deception and/or denial. The specific techniques of historical revisionism vary from using forged documents as genuine sources (or inventing reasons to distrust genuine documents), to exploiting opinions by taking them out of their historical context. Other techniques include manipulating statistical series to support the given point of view, and deliberately mis-translating texts (into other languages)... etc. Instead of submitting their work to the challenges of a peer review, revisionists rewrite history to support an agenda, and often use fallacies to obtain the desired results. Because historical revisionism can be used to deny, deceive, or influence explanations and perceptions, it can be regarded as a technique of propaganda. Finally, techniques of historical revisionism operate within the intellectual battlespace in order to advance an interpretation or perception of history.
Reputable and professional historians do not suppress parts of quotations from documents that go against their own case, but take them into account, and, if necessary, amend their own case, accordingly. They do not present, as genuine, documents which they know to be forged just because these forgeries happen to back up what they are saying. They do not invent ingenious, but implausible, and utterly unsupported reasons for distrusting genuine documents, because these documents run counter to their arguments; again, they amend their arguments, if this is the case, or, indeed, abandon them altogether. They do not consciously attribute their own conclusions to books and other sources, which, in fact, on closer inspection, actually say the opposite. They do not eagerly seek out the highest possible figures in a series of statistics, independently of their reliability, or otherwise, simply because they want, for whatever reason, to maximize the figure in question, but rather, they assess all the available figures, as impartially as possible, in order to arrive at a number that will withstand the critical scrutiny of others. They do not knowingly mistranslate sources in foreign languages in order to make them more serviceable to themselves. They do not willfully invent words, phrases, quotations, incidents and events, for which there is no historical evidence, in order to make their arguments more plausible.
Deception is offensively using falsified information, lying, and obscuring the truth to manipulate information or opinion. Revisionist historians use deception techniques to help achieve their political or ideological goals. Within literature, history distinguishes between books published by academic historians doing peer-reviewed work based on credible sources, and deceptive history books based on uncredible sources. The distinction between types of history books rests upon the research techniques used in writing such histories; accuracy and revision are central to historical scholarship. As in any academic discipline, historians submit their papers for peer review, however, instead of submitting their work to the challenges of a peer review, revisionists rewrite history to support an agenda, often political, and use many techniques and rhetorical fallacies to obtain the desired results. In doing so, the revisionists therefore engages in deceiving their audience into believing manipulated information. The distinction between types of history books rests upon the research techniques used in writing such histories; accuracy and revision are central to historical scholarship. When these techniques are purposefully sidestepped, the presented information may be considered deception.
Denial is defensively protecting information from being shared or claiming facts are untrue. Protection can include both physical security, and prevention techniques such as blame shifting, censorship, distraction, and media manipulation. Negationism is the denial of established historical facts – particularly in regards to denying the crimes of World War II and the Holocaust.
Comparing certain historical atrocities to other crimes commonly occurs in the context of historical revisionism, a practice also referred to as relativization. It does not make claims on facts, but moral judgements, in order to alter the public perception of the first atrocity. Although such comparisons may be frequent in revisionist context, their pronouncement is not necessarily part of revisionist intentions on facts, but an opinion on moral judgement.
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution (Chinese: 文化大革命; pinyin: Wénhuà Dàgémìng), was a social-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976. Set into motion by Mao Zedong, then Chairman of the Communist Party of China, its stated goal was to enforce communism in the country by removing capitalist, traditional and cultural elements from Chinese society, and to impose Maoist orthodoxy within the Party. The revolution marked the return of Mao Zedong to a position of power after the failed Great Leap Forward. The movement paralyzed China politically and significantly affected the country economically and socially.
The Revolution was launched in May 1966. Mao alleged that bourgeois elements were infiltrating the government and society at large, aiming to restore capitalism. He insisted that these "revisionists" be removed through violent class struggle. China's youth responded to Mao's appeal by forming Red Guard groups around the country. The movement spread into the military, urban workers, and the Communist Party leadership itself. It resulted in widespread factional struggles in all walks of life. In the top leadership, it led to a mass purge of senior officials who were accused of taking a "capitalist road", most notably Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. During the same period Mao's personality cult grew to immense proportions.
Millions of people were persecuted in the violent factional struggles that ensued across the country, and suffered a wide range of abuses including public humiliation, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, sustained harassment, and seizure of property. A large segment of the population was forcibly displaced, most notably the transfer of urban youth to rural regions during the Down to the Countryside Movement. Historical relics and artifacts were destroyed. Cultural and religious sites were ransacked.
The Burning of Books and Burying of Scholars (traditional Chinese: 焚書坑儒; simplified Chinese: 焚书坑儒; pinyin: fénshū kēngrú; literally "burning of books and burying (alive) of (Confucian) scholars") is the purported burning of writings and slaughter of scholars during the Qin Dynasty of Ancient China, between the period of 213 and 210 BC.
"Books" at this point probably referred to writings on bamboo strips which were then bound together This contributed to the loss to history of many philosophical theories of proper government (known as "the Hundred Schools of Thought"). The official philosophy of government ("legalism") survived.
The "Burning of books and burying of scholars" was part of what is known as "the Fires of Qin". The Qin emperor died in 210 BC and national chaos ensued. However, despite the lack of a functioning central government to pursue this policy, what happened was further destruction of historical materials: the Qin capital city was sacked and burned in 207 BC, destroying official copies of works which had been retained in the imperial library and official archives, together with the Qin's own approved literary records. Together with the deaths of many scholars in these few years, the "burning of books and burying of scholars" resulted in an incalculable loss to the history of China, and to human knowledge in general.
Confederate revisionists argue that the Confederate States of America was the defender, rather than the instigator, of the American Civil War, and that the Confederacy's motivation was the maintenance of states rights and limited government rather than the preservation and expansion of slavery.
The Nazi book burnings were a campaign conducted by the German Student Association of Nazi Germany to ceremonially burn books in Germany and Austria by classical liberal, anarchist, socialist, pacifist, communist, Jewish, and other authors whose writings were viewed as subversive or whose ideologies undermined the National Socialist administration. Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen (Polish: "Specjalna księga Polaków ściganych listem gończym", anglicized "Special Prosecution Book-Poland")– was the proscription list prepared by Germans, before the war, that identified more than 61,000 members of Polish elites: activists, intelligentsia, scholars, actors, former officers, and others, who were to be interned or shot.
In France, in the 1940s, a group of anti-fascist exiles made a Library of Burned Books of all the books that Hitler ordered destroyed. This library contained copies of titles that were burned. These book burnings from the Nazis was an idea to help cleanse German culture of Jewish and foreign influences, such as pacifism and decadent literature. The Nazis were going to make a "museum" of Judaism once the final solution was complete to house certain books that were "saved" by the Nazis themselves.
The post-war minimisation of the war crimes of Japanese imperialism is an example of 'illegitimate' historical revisionism; some contemporary Japanese revisionists, such as Yuko Iwanami (granddaughter of General Hideki Tojo), propose that Japan’s invasion of China, and the Second World War, itself, were justified reactions to racist Western imperialism of the time. On 2 March 2007, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe denied that the military had forced women into sexual slavery during the war, saying, "The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion". Before he spoke, some Liberal Democratic Party legislators also sought to revise Yohei Kono’s apology to former comfort women in 1993; likewise, there was the controversial negation of the six-week Nanking Massacre in 1937–1938.
Tsuneo Watanabe, editor-in-chief of the conservative newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, criticized the Yasukuni Shrine as a bastion of revisionism: "The Yasukuni Shrine runs a museum where they show items in order to encourage and worship militarism. It's wrong for the prime minister to visit such a place". Other critics note that men, who would contemporarily be perceived as "Korean" and "Chinese", are enshrined for the military actions they effected as Japanese Imperial subjects.
The Hibakusha ("explosion-affected people") of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seek compensation from their government and criticize it for failing to "accept responsibility for having instigated and then prolonged an aggressive war long after Japan's defeat was apparent, resulting in a heavy toll in Japanese, Asian and American lives." Historians Hill and Yukiko have pointed out that attempts to minimize the importance of the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is revisionist history. EB Sledge expressed concern that such revisionism, in his words "mellowing", would allow us to forget the harsh facts of the history that led to the bombings.
There have been a number of scholars and political activists who have publicly disagreed with mainstream views of Serbian war crimes in the Yugoslav wars of 1991–1999. Among the points of contention are whether the victims of massacres such as the Račak massacre and Srebrenica massacre were unarmed civilians or armed resistance fighters, whether death and rape tolls were inflated, and whether prison camps such as Sremska Mitrovica camp were sites of mass war crimes.
These scholars are labeled "revisionists" by their opponents. For example, the publication of Diana Johnstone's work has had a controversial reception. In her book, Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions she questions that genocidal killings occurred in Srebrenica. The book was rejected by publishers in Sweden prompting an open letter in 2003 defending Johnstone's book (and her right to publish) which was signed by, among others, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Tariq Ali and John Pilger: "We regard Diana Johnstone’s Fools’ Crusade as an outstanding work, dissenting from the mainstream view but doing so by an appeal to fact and reason, in a great tradition." On the other hand, Richard Caplan of Reading and Oxford University reviewed the work in International Affairs, where he described the work as "a revisionist and highly contentious account of western policy and the dissolution of Yugoslavia".
The Report about Case Srebrenica by Darko Trifunovic, commissioned by the government of the Republika Srpska, was described by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as "one of the worst examples of revisionism in relation to the mass executions of Bosnian Muslims committed in Srebrenica in July 1995". Outrage and condemnation by a wide variety of Balkan and international figures eventually forced the Republika Srpska to disown the report.
Turkish laws such as Article 301, that state "a person who publicly insults Turkishness, or the Republic or [the] Turkish Grand National Assembly of Turkey, shall be punishable by imprisonment", were used to criminally charge the writer Orhan Pamuk with disrespecting Turkey, for saying that "Thirty thousand Kurds, and a million Armenians, were killed in these lands, and nobody, but me, dares to talk about it." The controversy occurred as Turkey was first vying for membership in the European Union (EU) where the suppression of dissenters is looked down upon. Article 301 originally was part of penal-law reforms meant to modernise Turkey to EU standards, as part of negotiating Turkey's membership to the EU. In 2006, the charges were dropped due to pressure from the Turkish government.
On 7 February 2006, five journalists were tried for insulting the judicial institutions of the State, and for aiming to prejudice a court case (per Article 288 of the Turkish penal code). The reporters were on trial for criticising the court-ordered closing of a conference in Istanbul regarding the Armenian genocide during the time of the Ottoman Empire. The conference continued elsewhere, transferring locations from a state to a private university. The trial continued until 11 April 2006, when four of the reporters were acquitted. The case against the fifth journalist, Murat Belge, proceeded until 8 June 2006, when he was also acquitted. The purpose of the conference was to critically analyze the official Turkish view of the Armenian Genocide in 1915; a taboo subject in Turkey. The trial proved to be a test case between Turkey and the European Union; the EU insisted that Turkey allow increased freedom of expression rights, as a condition to membership. The Republic of Turkey does not deny the Ottoman Armenian casualties, but denies they were genocide, specifically claiming that said deaths were consequence of war, and also were criminal killings neither approved nor committed by the Ottoman Empire.
During the existence of the Russian SFSR (1918–1991) and the Soviet Union (1922–1991), the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) attempted to ideologically and politically control the writing of both academic and popular history. These attempts were most successful in 1934–52 period. According to Mehnert, the Soviets attempt to control academic historiography (the writing of history by academic historians) to promote ideological and ethno-racial imperialism by Russians. During the 1928–56 period, modern and contemporary history was generally composed according to the wishes of the CPSU, not the requirements of accepted historiographic method. According to some authors, such as Mehnert, this practice was fundamentally corrupt.
During and after the rule of Nikita Khrushchev (1956–64), Soviet historiographic practice is more complicated. Although not entirely corrupted, Soviet historiography was characterized by complex competition between Stalinist and anti-Stalinist Marxist historians. To avoid the professional hazard of politicized history, some historians chose pre-modern, medieval history or classical history, where ideological demands were relatively relaxed and conversation with other historians in the field could be fostered; nevertheless, despite the potential danger of proscribed ideology corrupting historians’ work, not all of Soviet historiography was corrupt.
Control over party history and the legal status of individual ex-party members played a large role in dictating the ideological diversity and thus the faction in power within the CPSU. The history of the Communist Party was revised to delete references to leaders purged from the party, especially during the rule of Joseph Stalin (1922–53).[note 1]
Original: Nikolai Yezhov at Stalin’s left.
In the Historiography of the Cold War, a controversy over negationist historical revisionism exists, where numerous revisionist scholars in the West have been accused of whitewashing the crimes of Stalinism, overlooking the Katyn massacre in Poland and disregarding the validity of the Venona messages with regards to Soviet espionage in the United States.
Many Holocaust deniers reject "denier" as an accurate description of their point of view, preferring, instead, the term "Holocaust revisionist"; nonetheless, scholars prefer "Holocaust denier" to differentiate deniers from legitimate historical revisionists, whose goal is to accurately analyze historical evidence with established methods.[note 2] Historian Alan Berger reports that Holocaust deniers argue in support of a preconceived theory – that the Holocaust either did not occur or was mostly a hoax – by ignoring extensive historical evidence to the contrary.
Hence, as retroactive minimisation of the Holocaust, Holocaust deniers have attached themselves to the Heimatvertriebenen (ethnic Germans expelled mainly from the eastern quarter of Germany annexed by Poland and the Soviet Union after the war), and have, per their opponents, attempted to use sympathy for said Germans, and blame the Jews for the suffering of the Heimatvertriebenen. Moreover, when the discredited author David Irving[note 3] lost his English libel case against Deborah Lipstadt, and her publisher, Penguin Books, and thus was publicly identified as a Holocaust denier, the trial judge, Justice Charles Gray, concluded that:
Irving has, for his own ideological reasons, persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence; that, for the same reasons, he has portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favorable light, principally in relation to his attitude towards, and responsibility for, the treatment of the Jews; that he is an active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-semitic and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism.
On 20 February 2006, Irving was found guilty, and sentenced to three years imprisonment for Holocaust denial, under Austria's 1947 law banning Nazi revivalism and criminalising the "public denial, belittling or justification of National Socialist crimes". Besides Austria, eleven other countries—including Belgium, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, and Switzerland—have criminalised Holocaust denial as punishable with imprisonment.[note 4]
The history textbook controversy centers upon the secondary school history textbook Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho ("New History Textbook") said to minimise the nature of Japanese militarism in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), in annexing Korea in 1910, in the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–45), and in the Second World War (1939–45). The conservative Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform commissioned the Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho textbook with the purpose of traditional national and international view of that Japanese historical period. The Ministry of Education vets all history textbooks, and those that do not mention Japanese war crimes and atrocities are not vetted; however, the Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho de-emphasises aggressive Japanese Imperial wartime behaviour and the matter of Chinese and Korean comfort women. It has even been denied that the Nanking massacre (a series of violences and rapes carried on by the Japanese army against Chinese civilians during the Second Sino-Japanese War) ever took place (see Nanking massacre denial).
Allegations of historical revisionism have been made regarding Pakistani textbooks in that they are laced with Indophobic and Islamist bias. Pakistan's use of officially published textbooks has been criticized for using schools to more subtlety foster religious extremism, whitewashing Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent and promoting "expansive pan-Islamic imaginings" that "detect the beginnings of Pakistan in the birth of Islam on the Arabian peninsula". Since 2001, the Pakistani government has stated that curriculum reforms have been underway by the Ministry of Education.
In the 1990s following a massive western media coverage of the Yugoslav civil war, there was a rise of the publications considering the matter on historical revisionism of the Ex-Yugoslav region. One of the most prominent authors on the field of historical revisionism in the 1990s considering the newly emerged republics is Noel Malcolm and his works Bosnia: A Short History (1994) and Kosovo: A Short History (1998), that have seen a robust debate among historians following their release. For example, following the release of Kosovo: A Short History (1998), the merits of the book were the subject of an extended debate in Foreign Affairs. Malcolm's book Kosovo: A Short History (1998) was considered "marred by his sympathies for its ethnic Albanian separatists, anti-Serbian bias, and illusions about the Balkans". In late 1999, Thomas Emmert of the history faculty of Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota reviewed the book in Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans Online and while praising aspects of the book also asserted that it was "shaped by the author’s overriding determination to challenge Serbian myths", that Malcolm was "partisan", and also complained that the book made a "transparent attempt to prove that the main Serbian myths are false".
In May 2009, Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev, established the History Commission of Russia (formally, the Presidential Commission of the Russian Federation to Counter Attempts to Falsify History to the Detriment of Russia's Interests) to counter aggressive attempts to rewrite history to Russian disadvantage, yet Alexander Cherkasov of the Memorial human-rights group, called it a regression to Soviet-era control. Historian Isaak Rozental says, "Their [the Kremlin’s] approach is not to study history but to use it." The textbook History of Russia and the World in the 20th century (2004), by Nikita Zagladin, replaced the National History: 20th century, by Igor Dolutsky; Zagladin’s textbook was produced under the aegis of President Vladimir Putin, who wanted a more patriotic textbook. Critics of the textbook note the lack of detail about historical events such as the Siege of Leningrad (1941–44), the Gulag forced-labour camps, the Russo–Finnish Winter War (1939–40), the First Chechen War (1994–96), and the Second Chechen War (1999–2000), as serious factual inaccuracies; most egregious, the critics propose, is the absence of the Holocaust (1933–45), and the glorification of the rule of Josef Stalin (1922–53).
On 23 February 2005, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) conservative majority at the French National Assembly voted a law compelling history textbooks and teachers to "acknowledge and recognize in particular the positive role of the French presence abroad, especially in North Africa". Criticized by historians and teachers, among them Pierre Vidal-Naquet, who refused to recognise the French Parliament's right to influence the way history is written (despite the French Holocaust denial laws, see Loi Gayssot). That law was also challenged by left-wing parties and the former French colonies; critics argued that the law was tantamount to refusing to acknowledge the racism inherent to French colonialism, and that the law proper is a form of historical revisionism.[note 5]
Some countries have criminalised historical revisionism of historic events such as the Holocaust. The Council of Europe defines it as the "denial, gross minimisation, approval or justification of genocide or crimes against humanity" (article 6, Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime).
Some council-member states proposed an additional protocol to the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention, addressing materials and "acts of racist or xenophobic nature committed through computer networks"; it was negotiated from late 2001 to early 2002, and, on 7 November 2002, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers adopted the protocol's final text titled Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cyber-crime, Concerning the Criminalisation of Acts of a Racist and Xenophobic Nature Committed through Computer Systems, ("Protocol"). It opened on 28 January 2003, and became current on 1 March 2006; as of 30 November 2011, 20 States have signed and ratified the Protocol, and 15 others have signed, but not yet ratified it (including Canada and South Africa).
The Protocol requires participant States to criminalise the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material, and of racist and xenophobic threats and insults through computer networks, such as the Internet. Article 6, Section 1 of the Protocol specifically covers Holocaust Denial, and other genocides recognised as such by international courts, established since 1945, by relevant international legal instruments. Section 2 of Article 6 allows a Party to the Protocol, at their discretion, only to prosecute the violator if the crime is committed with the intent to incite hatred or discrimination or violence; or to use a reservation, by allowing a Party not to apply Article 6 – either partly or entirely. The Council of Europe's Explanatory Report of the Protocol says that the "European Court of Human Rights has made it clear that the denial or revision of 'clearly established historical facts – such as the Holocaust — . . . would be removed from the protection of Article 10 by Article 17' of the European Convention on Human Rights" (see the Lehideux and Isorni judgement of 23 September 1998);
Two of the English-speaking states in Europe, Ireland and the United Kingdom, have not signed the additional protocol, (the third, Malta, signed on 28 January 2003, but has not yet ratified it). On 8 July 2005 Canada became the only non-European state to sign the convention. They were joined by South Africa in April 2008. The United States government does not believe that the final version of the Protocol is consistent with the United States' First Amendment Constitutional rights and has informed the Council of Europe that the United States will not become a Party to the protocol.
There are various domestic laws against negationism and hate speech (which may encompass negationism), in sixteen different countries including
Additionally, the Netherlands considers denying the Holocaust as a hate crime – which is a punishable offense. Wider use of domestic laws include the 1990 French Gayssot Act that prohibits any "racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic" speech., and the Czech Republic and the Ukraine have criminalised the denial and the minimisation of Communist-era crimes.
In the science fiction novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell, the government of Oceania continually revises historical records to concord with current politics. For example, when Oceania is at war with Eurasia, records indicate that this has always been the case, yet when they are no longer fighting the historical records are changed and the populace are brainwashed to believe that the two nations have always been allies. In the novel, historical revisionism is the principal method of propaganda used by the Ministry of Truth, where the protagonist, Winston Smith, works as a historical revisionist. In his novel, Orwell writes, "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future." This quote illustrates Orwell’s understanding of how the past can influence both ideology and politics, offers a counterpoint as to why protecting the scholarly practice of history is important, and describes the extreme effects of state-sponsored censorship.
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"[R]evisionists" are understood as "negationists" in order to differentiate them from "historical revisionists" since their goal is either to prove that the Holocaust did not exist or to introduce confusion regarding the victims and German executioners regardless of historical and scientific methodology and evidence. For those reasons, the term "revisionism" is often considered confusing since it conceals misleading ideologies that purport to avoid disapproval by presenting "revisions" of the past based on pseudo-scientific methods, while really they are a part of negationism.