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Final

Readings of mcneill, zinn and marchak Critical analysis of mcneill, zinn and marchak's readings.


Department
Social Science
Course Code
SOSC 1000
Professor
Terry Conlin
Study Guide
Final

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Q. Howard Zinn begins his article
“Columbus and Western Civilization” with
the following quotation from George
Orwell. “Who controls the past controls the
future. And who controls the present
controls the past.”
Write an essay in which you utilize course
materials to analyze Orwell’s claim in the
context of the readings by Zinn, McNeill and
Marchak. What does the quotation mean in
this context? Do you agree or disagree?
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McNeill proposed that myth and history are more intricately linked than one
would believe. Quoting his lines: “Myth and history is close kin inasmuch as both
explain how things got to be the way they are by telling some sort of story.”
(McNeill, pg 75)
History tells us the story of the past and in a way so do myths. The stories of the
wars, invasions are written by the dominant ideology. In reality, no one has a
grasp over the gospel; the absolute truth of the past. The history we have studied
is narrated from the perspective of the dominant ideology. Over the years,
various historians have come up with numerous theories and explanations for
various events that occurred in the past. However, each historian proclaims their
own theory as the truth, dismissing others as myth.
For example, “In 1940, when Hitler had defeated France, the British public
continued to support the war against Germany partly because they ‘knew’ from
past history that in all the European wars, their country had lost all the early wars
and always won the last. The faith, together with a strong sense of righteousness
of their cause, turned myth into reality in 1945 when Germany lost the war.”
(Excerpt from The care and repair of public myth, McNeill, pg 88) This is evidence
of the fact that myth, if strongly believed in, can affect the course of history. Also
due to a variety of historical perspectives, the rejected theories are accepted as
myth.
Myth also played a crucial role in the expansion of European powers for world
domination. McNeill explains that myths are common beliefs of people about
cultures and groups different from their own that are acted upon depending on
the situation. Myths give them a sense of identity and belonging, uniting them.
Myth is used as a convenient way of explaining something unexplainable. It is
“mankind’s substitute for instinct.”(McNeill, pg 87) As a result, this Myth
instinctively motivated the Europeans to sail the ocean blue in search of new
lands.
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