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    30 January, 2005

    Columnists today

    Excellent article by Fred Halliday on the state of global politics in the Observer today. He invents a 'Three Dustbin' theory of leftover ideas. I particularly liked this:

    The Third Dustbin is that of the contemporary global protest movement, to a considerable degree a children's crusade of intellectual demagogues, recycled 1960s bunkeristas with their fellow travellers in literary circles, dreamers and political manipulators, of the old and new lefts, whose claim to moral and analytic superiority too often masks a set of unexamined, and themselves often recycled, platitudes from the Cold War period and, indeed, from the ideology of the communist world.

    I see my old friend David Aaronovitch recognises the importance of the history debate and agrees with me that the Tory history curriculum is likely to be too narrow. David recalls being taught history in the form of ideology himself:

    Being brought up as a lefty I had access to a completely parallel (or 'People's') history. This one was about Saxon communes, feudalism, mercantilism, the Peasant's Revolt, the English Revolution, the Enclosures, Captain Swing, Tom Paine, the Chartists, the trades unions and immigrants.

    Or as I called it in my chapter in The Blair Agenda, the fantasy football league approach to history, calling up all your historical heroes into your team. In Wales, of course, the nationalists have been doing that for the last hundred years, from Owen Rhoscomyl's 'Flame-bearers' to Gwynfor Evans's 'Nation-builders'.

    Historical argument is part of politics - and young people need access to the historical facts. But history is dangerous if left solely to the service of ideology.

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