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What’s Behind the War on History?

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History is under siege. Long-acknowledged facts are being “rewritten” as heroes are made villains and students of Western civilization are taught to hate their heritage. But why? What forces are working behind it all? And how will the war on history end?

Why have Western nations—even the United States, often seen as the very symbol of democratic order and stability—seen violent activists rioting in the streets, looting, burning, fighting with police, and toppling statues of important figures who have influenced the course of history? Why are students at prestigious universities learning to hate their own nations and despise their own culture? What is going on?

On one level, the reasons are profound and go back to ideas conceived centuries before. Yet, as we will see, on an often-ignored level there are reasons that few understand and only God makes plain—for those with eyes to see.

To understand those reasons, consider the current war on history.

Casualties of War

If you haven’t noticed that there is a war on history, consider just a few casualties the conflict has generated.

In the summer of 2020, television screens and news feeds worldwide were filled with images of angry mobs across the United States, suddenly defacing and destroying statues. Initially explained as anger over racial injustice targeting Confederate flags and statues of men who fought to preserve slavery, the aggression was soon directed to statues of George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Before long, the angry masses moved to vandalize a statue of Abraham Lincoln, who freed American slaves, and throw into Wisconsin’s Lake Monona a statue of Hans Christian Heg—an abolitionist who died in the U.S. Civil War fighting for his anti-slavery ideals.

Yet, the war on history does not stop with statues, nor is it waged only by mobs. Even more passionate efforts are taking place in our classrooms and newspapers.

Consider that radical historian Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States is widely used in schools across America as a popular textbook. Biased by design, his book has been described by some historians as little more than cynical propaganda—inspiring author and researcher Mary Grabar’s book Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation Against America.

Then there is the New York Times’ massive publishing effort The 1619 Project. Seeking to “reframe the country’s history” by making slavery and its consequences the central defining element of the United States, the project has been assailed by leading historians for its multiple inaccuracies and for being driven by ideological goals instead of a desire to communicate accurate, historical facts. Yet, it, too, is widely promoted in American schools.

These historians’ critique applies to far more than The 1619 Project. Ideology is at war with history on multiple levels. But why? Why is history under attack—in schools and university campuses, in the media, in Hollywood, in churches, and even in the halls of government?

What we see around us is not truly the spontaneous result of recent events, such as acts of police injustice, real or perceived. The roots of the disruption go far deeper. And the answers begin with historical facts that are rarely discussed truthfully today.

Overthrowing the Values of Western Culture

The stage for the modern war on historical reality and the foundations of morality was set by many fertile-minded but misguided secular thinkers in America and Western Europe. One could point to Charles Darwin of Britain, Georg Hegel of Germany, America’s John Dewey, and Austria’s Sigmund Freud, to name just a few of many. In our current cultural moment, however, perhaps none of these influencers are having as great an impact as German philosopher Karl Marx, who described all of history and society in terms of a class struggle between oppressors and victims. He expected a future in which the “victimized” and “exploited” workers of the world would unite and forcibly seize the means of production from “oppressive” owners, establishing a worldwide socialist utopia that would eventually be perfected in global communism.

Obstacles to this revolution would need to be removed—including religion and all biblical ideas of morality and family—along with any sense of individual, private ownership. Realizing the ideal world, according to Marx, would require state control of factories, media, and all social institutions, including schools, universities, and healthcare.

In the eyes of Marx, religion was like opium, keeping people drugged and blind to their actual misery. He believed that the traditional family kept women and children enslaved to men, private property prevented resources from being utilized by the state to care for others, and state control of education was essential, so children’s minds could be turned away from the ideals and beliefs of their parents and toward the ideals of the new, utopian society.

To aid such efforts, the destruction of history had to play a crucial role, so that the values and traditions of old could be replaced by new values and traditions of the state. In Russia, bringing Marxism to life led to confiscating all private property, burning churches, and killing thousands of priests and millions of commoners who resisted the state’s attempts to achieve the revolution Marx envisioned.

“Pure” Marxism failed to spread for a number of reasons, such as the prosperity most workers have experienced in capitalistic systems and the brutality demonstrated by “Marxist” states that adopted it, though these massive failures are rarely mentioned in history classes and other avenues promoting communism or radical socialism today. But Marx’s utopian dreams and his philosophy of society as a struggle between oppressed and oppressors lived on, serving as the foundation of newer theories that adapted Marxism to our modern day.

The “Long March Through the Institutions”

“The Frankfurt School” is the popular name for the theories hatched by social engineers at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany, founded in 1923 to apply communist theory to culture, much as Marx had done with economics. Where Marx sought to bring utopia by capturing the means of production, the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School philosophers sought to capture the culture—working within capitalist society to overthrow capitalism.

Perhaps the most significant development of the Frankfurt School came to be known as “Critical Theory”—first popularized as Critical Legal Theory to undermine Western legal systems, and more recently as Critical Race Theory. This family of theories promotes the idea that oppressive societal structures, not individual human sins or failings, are at the heart of social inequity, and that these structures must be toppled to bring social equity.

Moving to Geneva and then to New York, the Frankfurt School found a home at Columbia University. In an academic environment of moral relativism fertilized by the secular ideas of Darwin, Dewey, Marx, and Freud, the ideas of Critical Theory and its intellectual offspring spread—a direct cause of the situation we see today, in which modern colleges and universities continue to be hotbeds of Marxist thinking.

This protracted effort of slowly dominating liberal academic environments and seeking increasing influence over the culture was dubbed the “long march through the institutions” by Marxist activist Rudi Dutschke. Prominent Frankfurt School philosopher Herbert Marcuse once wrote Dutschke to say that this “long march” effort of “working against the established institutions while working within them” was “the only effective way” of achieving the utopia they sought (Marxism, Revolution and Utopia: Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse, Volume 6, p. 336).

The 1960s saw these intellectuals increasingly target disenchanted and marginalized groups—such as racial minorities fighting discrimination or feminists and homosexuals seeking to change social policy—to fan the flames of their concerns and resentments into a cultural revolution that served their agenda. Marcuse and his comrades became the “gurus” of the hippie era, promoting ideas like “Make love not war,” “Turn on, tune in, and drop out,” and “Think for yourself and question authority.” During that era, radicalized students burned their draft cards and sang the praises of social revolutionaries like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, chanting slogans such as “Marx, Mao, and Marcuse.”

Eventually, the turbulent ’60s settled into a “new normal,” but the aims of the socialist cultural revolutionaries of academia never changed. They continued advancing their goals of transforming the culture of Western civilization from inside its own institutions.

Tools of Transformation

The tools wielded to achieve this transformation have been varied but are related in their orientation toward highlighting the evils and errors of the West and defaming or devaluing any good it has achieved.

One of the most powerful is “political correctness.” Called the “new Inquisition” by historian Victor Davis Hanson, political correctness has been a useful tool for punishing and stigmatizing—even “canceling”—dissenting ideas by controlling the language used to discuss them. Those who dare to publicly utter “incorrect” ideas face intimidation and ridicule, intended to break the will of those who oppose the desirable “progressive” direction. Its tactics are well described in activist Saul Alinsky’s infamous Rules for Radicals, which he dedicated, shockingly, to “the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom—Lucifer.”

By controlling language, activists and practitioners of “identity politics” seek to set various groups against one another, dividing people into categories of “oppressed” and “oppressors” in a neo-Marxist framework that looks to race, sexual and gender self-identification, and other categories instead of economics. Instead of valuing people as individuals, advocates of identity politics—as with Critical Race Theory mentioned above—seek to promote group identity and foster “class consciousness” to engender guilt and hatred and make room for a new socialist revolution.

In the hands of the neo-Marxists controlling language and despising history, all cultures are to be treated as equal and praiseworthy as long as they stand in opposition to biblical values. As a result, Islam is promoted in schools that would never be allowed to treat Christianity with equal respect. Cultures that practice infanticide, “honor killings,” and even female genital mutilation are considered morally equal, or even superior, to those with values derived from the Bible.

One More Tool: Destroying History

In this collection of tools, the destruction of history is a key device. George Orwell’s observation, “Who controls the past controls the future”—the slogan of the Party in his classic dystopian novel 1984—is not far from the truth.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a famous Russian critic of Soviet communism, once observed, “To destroy a people, you must first sever their roots”—that is, you must erase their memory and alter their understanding of history so that they lose any knowledge of who they are and what earlier generations have achieved. And Karl Marx himself, whose ideas inspired the communism Solzhenitsyn resisted, is noted to have observed, “A people without a heritage are easily persuaded.”

So, if the effort to radically change a culture was going to succeed, then war would need to be waged on its history. Sure enough, that gradually escalating war has been successful. In 1987, when American activist Jesse Jackson led a demonstration on the campus of Stanford University to remove a required Western Civilization course, few Americans took seriously the demonstrators’ chants of, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!” Yet now, a little more than 30 years later, Western Civilization indeed seems to be on its way out at many major universities.

The rise of violent riots and vandalism seen today in Western cities is no accident. The real target is not just the historical figures depicted on statues, but everything that Western civilization represents. What we are witnessing today is the culmination of efforts by determined activists who hate Western civilization and who want to change and fundamentally transform the West until it conforms to the socialist, Marxist model—and the control of history plays a vital role in those efforts.

The Vital Missing Dimension

At one level, we have answered the question of why history is under siege. The war on history is simply one front in a much broader effort to radically change the culture of Western civilization.

Yet there is a deeper dimension to what we see happening in the culture of the West—deeper causes that no one on either side of the culture war truly understands.

The source for understanding that dimension is the Bible. Even as our secular society continues to remove references to the Bible from schools, government, and media, it remains true that there is a God who guides the course of history. His word contains the real answers to why America, Britain, and the West have dominated the world for the last 500 years—and the answers to why that dominance is crumbling today.

The United States, Great Britain, and many of the peoples of northwest Europe are descendants of the ancient Israelites. Our free booklet The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy proves this fact from the pages of the Bible and demonstrates the truth of it with the facts of history. The Bible records that God made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—whose name was changed to Israel—that their descendants would become great and be a blessing to the world (Genesis 12:1–3). Additional promises clearly state that the descendants of Jacob’s two grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim would become a great nation and a great company of nations (Genesis 48:14–22). Those promises of God, not any “inherent greatness” of the American and British-descended peoples (such as the peoples of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa), have enabled them to rise to the heights of the earth. But this knowledge has been lost today.

God’s word also records that the Almighty chose the Israelites for a special mission (Exodus 19:5–6) and gave them His laws so that they could be examples to the world of a better way to live (Deuteronomy 4:1–10). The Israelites were told that they would be blessed if they obeyed God’s laws but would reap serious consequences if they rejected the Lord and disobeyed His laws.

For instance, from the Bible we learn that marriage is between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4–6), that adultery and fornication are wrong (Exodus 20:14), and that homosexuality, prostitution, and transgenderism are forbidden behaviors (Leviticus 18:22; 19:29; Deuteronomy 22:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10). These prohibitions, derided by today’s cultural engineers, are not “Western” values—they are eternal! Yet these biblical instructions have been cast aside today in modern Israelite nations. God warned the ancient Israelites about turning to other gods (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 6:14), but they did—and even sacrificed their children to those false gods (Jeremiah 32:35). Today, we have created and follow false gods of the mind—such as the ideas of Darwin, Dewey, Marx, and others—and we abort millions of babies, assuming there will be no consequences because we have chosen to ignore the lessons of history recorded in the Bible (1 Corinthians 10:1–11).

The biblical prophets record that the leaders of Israel caused the nation to go astray (Isaiah 9:16; Jeremiah 23:13). Today, political, intellectual, and religious leaders are doing the same thing by sanctioning and promoting ideas and behaviors that are totally contrary to God’s laws, such that yesterday’s individual temptation becomes today’s celebrated way of life.

Moses warned that because of disobedience to God, Israel’s downfall would come suddenly (Deuteronomy 28:20). He warned, as well, “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail” (Deuteronomy 28:43–44). We see this curse reflected in the multicultural focus of modern days. Centuries later, Jesus warned that one of the signs preceding His return would be widespread ethnic strife (Matthew 24:7) as individuals of different races and cultures clash. (The Greek word in this verse translated as “nation” in the New King James Version is ethnos.) Indeed, racial and ethnic strife has exploded in recent years—not only in Western nations, but around the world.

Because of their continual sin, God declared through the prophets that He would remove the protective “hedge” He had placed around the Israelite-descended nations and make their lives increasingly difficult (Isaiah 5:5; Hosea 2:6). The blessing of protection they had enjoyed from God—not because of their own strength, but because of His mercy and promises—they would enjoy no more. Having sown vanity and sin, they would “reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). In the pointed words of the King James Version, God declares, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself” (Hosea 13:9, KJV).

Remember—biblical prophecy is history written in advance, and we are living in prophetically significant times.

The Real Villain—and the Real Savior

Scripture reveals one more missing dimension that politicians, professors, and pundits on all sides of the culture wars are unwilling to talk about today. The real villain of the story of human civilization, whether that of the West or of any society in the world, is not Marx or Dewey or Darwin, but Satan the devil. He really does exist and is an active influence in this world (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2).

When Saul Alinsky devoted his book to Lucifer—the devil—he probably had no idea that the object of his devotion is a very real spirit being!

The Bible indicates that Satan knows the plans and promises God made for the nations of Israel and His plan to bless the entire world, beginning with the Israelite nations and extending to include all of humanity (Romans 1:16). And from the very beginning, the devil has opposed that plan—using whatever human instruments he can deceive into helping fulfill his aims, painting himself and them as sources of light and righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:4, 13–15) and their philosophies as wisdom (Colossians 2:8). Today, we see the results of his efforts, but most are unable to identify the real cause of our troubles—in large part because we have been conditioned to ignore the only trustworthy source of information about this powerful supernatural entity.

The nations of the West are heading for a momentous day of reckoning. This is why the Bible records the history of ancient Israel, both the good and the bad, “for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:1–11). The modern attempts to alter and destroy any memory of this history, the attempts to remove God from the public consciousness, the rejection of biblical values, and the effort to discredit and disparage the contributions of Western civilization are all part of the war on history. It is a war waged by academics, institutions, and elites, but—unbeknownst even to them—it is being waged by Satan the devil.

The bad news is that God is allowing the foundations of the West to crumble because the nations that should have been most grateful for His mercies and guidance have turned away from Him—and continue to do so. However, the good news is that Jesus Christ is going to return and fulfill His desire to make these nations the example to the world He always intended them to be (Isaiah 2:2–4). When He does, the war on history will finally be over.

Jesus Christ—not Marx—will radically change the culture of the world. But He has chosen not to accomplish this alone. You can be part of His solution—which will involve restoring true values to the world alongside Him (Revelation 20:4)—if you learn the lessons of history, because a time of reckoning is coming.

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