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Date: 08/09/10

The History They Never Teach

Those who control the flow of information control the minds of the populace.

This is obviously true in the case of the day-to-day transmission of news by the 'mainstream' corporate media, in bed as they always are with those who govern. So it is that we are led to believe six impossible things before breakfast television (e.g. Tony Blair is not a war criminal, the police are not on rather more than nodding terms with outright cynicism and corruption, the spivs and gamblers of high finance are not to blame for our economic problems but that the poor, the unemployed and the disabled are. You get the picture).

But this is as true of the past as it is of the present. Those who decide the history curriculum of our schools, those who decide which historical documents are made available (and to whom), are the ones who determine what view of the past is given to us to believe.

Yesterday marked the seventieth anniversary of the beginning of what has come to be known as The Blitz, at least as far as London is concerned. As I don't have a television set anymore, I don't know whether the TV channels were full of the usual version of events we have come to believe as the truth, but I suspect they were.

You must know the story by now: plucky Londoners picking up their lives and marching straight back to work; people still going on with their normal social whirl - the parties, the theatre trips, the dinner parties. Churchill and the Windsors visiting the East End to show their concern, with Elizabeth Windsor claiming to be glad that Buckingham Palace had been bombed because it meant that she could "...look the East End in the face".

The trouble is that much, if not all, of the above is sheer bollocks. The East End took a far more devastating hit than any Palace ever could; the people of those communities found that, far from being looked in the face by their rulers, those rulers were cavalier in their 'concern' for the plight of ordinary people, even down to ordering that the Underground stations be surrounded by skeins of barbed wire and locked up every evening to prevent anyone from using them to shelter from the bombing which took place night after night for weeks.

The response of the ordinary people of the East End (and elsewhere) - the people who had been worst hit by the years of economic disaster preceding the war, and who had seen their rulers cosying up to all three prongs of Fascism in Europe - was to take matters into their own hands, as detailed in this fine piece from Michael Walker.

Of course, those who promote - and those who mindlessly accede to - the 'official' version of events will dismiss such a piece as being 'biased', or even 'counterfactual' (both code words for "we don't want to believe that this happened"). But then, they would. It upsets the settled, set-in-aspic story which our rulers wish us to have. A settled story is no longer controversial, it doesn't disturb the even tenor of the ruling classes' claim to a sort of divine right to continue ruling.

The end result is that - just as in the corporate, embedded media's reporting of today's events - we are fed a diet of falsehood about the past, even of that past which is strong in the memories of people still alive. By being thus fed, be it by the media or in our schools, we are made accepting of, and docile towards, the 'official version', however partial, however misleading. And so our path to the truth and to a proper understanding of where we come from, what we have come through, and how we have come through it, can be blocked by barbed wire, just like so many of our public footpaths, and like the Tube stations were to the many thousands of poor Londoners seeking shelter seventy years ago. And for much the same purpose.