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Historical Memories in Culture, Politics and the Future

The Making of History and the World to Come

Rahman Haghighat

This book is written to satisfy the individual’s desire for intellectual stimulation, to sow in the mind the seed of new ideas, and involve the reader in productive debates. It covers culture, history and the future, raising questions, presenting arguments and engaging the enquirer in reflection. It illustrates the relationship between past history and current social practices, proposing the concept of compartmentalization of behaviour, where history is understood to contribute to why there are so many displaced excesses amongst the English, alongside an ethos of moderation – why, in a country with such high civility, there is hooliganism, why riots in English cities can be particularly violent, why the country has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe, why it lags behind many others in the early diagnosis of cancer – and what can be done about this.
The book also explores what affects us all globally – the making of history, the psychology of dictatorships, the unconscious in history, the development of new democracies, the emerging psychosocial trends in the world to come, the cognitive, emotional and identity-ethos of the evolving century and the «future» of history. Finally, it identifies history’s foundations and the fundamental human tendency which, beyond the class interests of Marx and the search for recognition of Hegel, motivates and perpetuates history itself.
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Introduction: Historical Memories in Culture, Identity, Politics, Personality and Future

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Once, an eminent professor of History at Oxford University, knowing of my interest in historical memory, asked me the following question: ‘Why do we remember this [historical event] rather than another?’ This is what has puzzled many a historian, anthropologist and psychologist. Why do we have such an abundance of memories of a part of history and much less of another? Lévi-Strauss would have replied that it is the pressure of history, the importance that people intellectually give to an event, which determines the density of its commemoration or amnesia. The correct response is, however, not a simple one as there are other varieties of remembering whose true density we may miss, focusing only on cognitive remembering or forgetting.

Historical memories are not just what we remember in our mind but also what we practice in our daily life or carry in our genome. For example, cultural behaviour may be as much a historical memory we carry of a past event as what we might verbalize as the cognitive memory of that event. We will soon see that when we display a cultural trait originally precipitated in us by a historical event, we are indeed remembering. As such, important historical memories may be omnipresent in our social practices without being cognitively reminisced as memories. They may be indelibly written within us and reincarnated by still other means in our constitution, without our awareness and irrespective of any importance we may have given them. Therefore,...

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