John Mcreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Tue, 29 Aug 1995 12:09:47 +0900

Consider the following sentences.

(1) HIstory belongs to the people.

(2) History belongs to the People.

On Rich Spears' account, which I will, for the moment, accept

"Anthropologists have no problem differentiating between "people" and
>"People" ... the first refers to individuals and is best understood by
>psychologists while the second refers to *cultures* and is best
understood by anthropologists."

It would follow from (1) that history belongs to individuals, who have
a right to a voice in what is said about them. Whether their judgments
about themselves are more accurate than the judgments of others is

(2) says that history belongs to the culture. This is either trivial;
history is a part of culture. Or, it suggests a politics in which
the arbiters of culture control what "the People" will say about themselves.
But who will speak for "the People"? Even in the most democratic of
societies politically active people have strong interests in whatever
version of history supports their political positions. Official histories
are, in the nature of things, highly biased.And when used in certain ways
(Tudjman again springs to mind) are not merely wrong. They are lethally
dangerous.Who, after all, has spoken more strongly for a people who felt
themselves oppressed than Adolph Hitler?

My conclusion is simple. Everyone who is interested should have a voice.
And those who have an interest may not be members of "the People."
Chinese and Korean reactions to Japanese versions of WWI are a case in

Beware of linguistic anthropologists and ordinary language philosophers.
I am a bit of both. :-)

John McCreery