November 21, 2013

RuNet Tackles History

RuNet Tackles History

Sometimes, when you’re just too overwhelmed by the infinite selection of blogs, your best choice to is to turn to the very same internet to find your way. Doing just that, I found myself on a “rating of RuNet’s blogs and posts” (, retrieved 11/17/13), and the third post down caught my eye: “How historians made up the Mongolian Empire (part 2)” by Kungurov.  Expecting something thought-provoking, I launched into part 1.

What I should probably have realized is that “most popular” is not always synonymous with “best.” Completely lacking in substantive evidence or cited sources, the post did turn out to be a stellar example of the Russian blogger’s capacity for condescension and sarcasm:

“In order to reason,” he writes, “one must master logic – meaning the art of mking non-contradictory arguments. The language of even the most rudimentary logic is absolutely incomprehensible to something like 90% of primates. Learning Chinese? Sure thing – you don’t need anything but memory for that, even if you have to cram in a couple thousand characters. The language of logic, on the other hand, requires something completely different: mental effort, intellectual discipline.”

This aside on logic, naturally, ended as an insult to anyone who dared question his “findings” by citing established historians. But not everyone was put off by the insult: the comments were nearly evenly split between those who agreed and those who leveraged an equal dose of sarcasm in opposition.

But why the sudden interest in Mongolia? Kungurov’s point may not be as much historical as it is political. Russia’s Historical Society recently unveiled guidelines for a new textbook of Russian history to be taught in all schools. One of the often-discussed points of the new guidelines was to soften the tone in discussing the Mongolian invasion – seems a little impolitic to refer to a period as the “Tatar-Mongol Yoke” when there are Tatars and Mongols living within Russia, don't you think? Well, Kungurov just takes the revision one step further.

The unveiling of the guidelines (and accompanying academic discussion) also proved to be a good jumping-off point for other, less conspiracy-theory-prone bloggers. Wielding no less sarcasm than Kungurov, Dmitrij_Chmelnitsky laments the current state of historiography in Russia (a state which, oddly enough, is what allows Kungurov to write and be taken seriously), while Baikalmonarchist, on a related note, seeks the real motivation for the project: “the state’s attempt to impose its own interpretation of historical events, to replace history with ideology.” Others are less intimidated or impressed by the government’s efforts: Ejhle finds the attempt at covering post-Soviet history lacking, and Ekho Moskvy’s blog gives a sigh of relief – just a few terminology changes, nothing to worry about!

Long story short, you want responses to current events? Or new (sometimes very original) intepretations of history? RuNet’s best blogs have you covered.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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