H-app: Usable history and beyond

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    WHAT is Applied History vis-a-vis the “dreadful drama” of World War II? We find it in Stéphane Hessel: “We, the veterans of the resistance movements and combat forces of Free France, call on the young generation to live by, to transmit, the legacy of the Resistance and its ideals. We say to them: Take our place, ‘Indignez-vous!’ … When something outrages you as I was outraged by Nazism, then people become militant, strong, and engaged. They join this current of history, and the great current of history must continue thanks to each individual. And this current goes towards more justice, more freedom, but not this unbridled freedom of the fox in the henhouse. The rights contained in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 are just that, universal. If you meet somebody who does not benefit from it, feel sorry for them but help them to win their rights.”

    We feel it via Gerda Lerner: “Just as the healing of personal trauma depends on facing up to what actually happened and on revisioning the past in a new light, so it is with groups of people, with nations. Germany’s post-World War II recovery depended on its confrontation with its guilt for fascism, Holocaust and war. Restitution to the survivors and some effort at outlawing the racism that made these horrors possible were steps in the direction of healing.” [Why History Matters. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997]

    We congratulate it via the Hunters-ROTC guerrillas: “Dr. Ricardo T. Jose is a pioneer in the historical study of World War II in the Philippines. At a time when it was not yet a fashionable subject, his passion for the field had been his only driving force. His study of the war from the Filipino, American and Japanese perspectives has given him an unequaled vista of the conflict. In the course of his work, Dr. Jose established a standard of Filipino scholarship in history that is recognized and respected in different parts of the world. His deep knowledge and grasp of various aspects of WWII helped resolve many issues in the writing of the book “Tears in the Darkness” which appeared on New York Times Best Seller List for non-fiction in July, 2009. The Hunters-ROTC Historical Society congratulates Dr. Ricardo T. Jose on being conferred the 2019 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipino Award.” [Statement, November 15, 2019]

    We are awed by its capacity to behold the situation, as with Guy Debord: “Fascism was a desperate attempt to defend the bourgeois economy from the dual threat of crisis and proletarian subversion, a state of siege in which capitalist society saved itself by giving itself an emergency dose of rationalization in the form of massive state intervention. But this rationalization is hampered by the extreme irrationality of its methods.” [La Société du Spectacle, 1977]

    We salute its potency, as Eric Hobsbawm showcased in Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth-Century, 1914-1991 (London: Abacus, 1994): “Only the temporary and bizarre alliance of liberal capitalism and communism in self-defence against this challenger (fascism) saved democracy, for the victory over Hitler’s Germany was essentially won, and could only have been won, by the Red Army. In many ways, this period of capitalist-communist alliance against fascism – essentially the 1930s and 1940s – forms the hinge of twentieth-century history and its decisive moment.”

    We continue to note its presence in the public policy process, the latest being House Bill No. 5123 filed by Representatives Belmonte and Cabochan: AN ACT MANDATING THE INSTRUCTION OF READINGS IN PHILIPPINE HISTORY II: WORLD WAR II IN THE PHILIPPINES IN SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL.

    The advocate, the Hunters-ROTC Historical Society (who helped draft the proposed legislation), points out that:

    (1) today, nearly 100 hundred years of Philippines history is only slightly covered in our current treatment beginning with the American occupation;

    (2) World War II which lies squarely in middle of the 20th century is the single most important world event that shaped the country;

    (3) WWII as the precursor of the 2nd Philippine Republic and the subsequent world order that arose influenced its development dramatically, and its relations with other countries of the world, even to the present day;

    (4) wartime leaders like Macario Peralta, Eulogio Balao, Ramon Magsaysay, Eleuterio Adevoso, Ruperto Kangleon, to name a few, were also the ones who guided the republic in its early years; and

    (5) a fuller understanding of these events socially, economically, politically but particularly its own military history is incumbent on all Filipinos.

    We see it in the first anniversary of the yellow vest protest movement (aka “Act 53”) in France, the Gilets Jaunes who had been opposing oppressive new fuel taxes and planned fuel price hikes. Is this phenomenon an echo of the farsighted Program Of National Reconstruction unanimously adopted by the leaders of the National Council of the Resistance (Gaullists, Communists, socialists, Christian democrats, even conservatives) in March 1944 that inspired the French New Deal? “It remains significant as a vision and example — a remembrance of a time of collective action, openness to others, creative and dynamic leadership, and confidence in the future. All these qualities are cruelly lacking in France today. Their absence opens the way for all the fears that dominate French society, and for all the retreats and retrenchments.” [https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/19/opinion/the-french-resistance-would-weep.html]

    We can grasp it in the histories of management and ecology. “We believe that the bridging of business and environmental history is an intellectual project of genuine social importance…For this reason, the so-called Porter Hypothesis, which posits that the imposition of strict environmental regulations can spur innovations that ultimately increase national competitiveness, has been investigated extensively.” [Andrew Smith and Kirsten Greer (2017) “Uniting business history and global environmental history,” Business History, 59:7, 987-100]

    “Just as the economy is in the process of splitting off from sovereignty, so is the ecology. Truly transnational environmental organizations capable of acting and performing in their own right and without regard to national boundary lines are urgently needed. ‘Pollution’ may be a local phenomenon, comparable with (and indeed closely linked to) production.

    But environment is becoming worldwide just as the economy is in the process of becoming.

    In dealing with oceans and ocean beds, air resources and climate, soil and raw material resources, ‘sovereignties,’ even those of the biggest and largest nations, are increasingly coming to be seen as restraints rather than as the carriers of effective action.” [Peter F. Drucker. MANAGEMENT: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. NY: Truman Talley Books, 1986, p. 495]

    We recognize nature as a “co-producer” with labor and hope that Applied History can be part of the process of metabolic restoration of the ecological rifts in contemporary agricultural, climatic, oceanic, hydraulic, and forest systems. We expect this discussion at the Public Forum on the Climate Emergency organized by the UP Manila Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Global Climate Strike-Philippines.

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