that is, the effect on one another of Chateaubriand, Talleyrand, Madame de Staël, and others is obviously not equal to the resultant effect, that is, the phenomenon of millions of Frenchmen submitting to the Bourbons. Such and such words being said to one another by Chateaubriand, Madame de Staël, and others, only affects their relation to one another, and does not account for the submission of millions. And therefore to explain how the submission of millions followed from their relation to one another, that is, how from component forces equal to a given quantity A, there followed a resultant equal to a thousand times A, the historian is inevitably bound to admit that force of power, which he has renounced, accepting it in the resultant force, that is, he is obliged to admit an unexplained force that acts on the resultant of those components. And this is just what the philosophic historians do. And consequently they not only contradict the writers of historical memoirs, but also contradict themselves.

Country people who have no clear idea of the cause of rain say: The wind has blown away the rain, or the wind is blowing up for rain, according as they are in want of rain or of fair weather. In the same way, philosophic historians at times, when they wish it to be so, when it fits in with their theory, say that power is the result of events; and at times, when they want to prove something else, they say power produces the events.

A third class of historians, the writers of the so-called history of culture, following on the lines laid down by the writers of universal history who sometimes accept writers and ladies as forces producing events, yet understand that force quite differently. They see that force in so-called culture, in intellectual activity. The historians of culture are quite consistent as regards their prototypes—the writers of universal history—for if historical events can be explained by certain persons having said certain things to one another, why not explain them by certain persons having written certain books? Out of all the immense number of tokens that accompany every living phenomenon, these historians select the symptom of intellectual activity, and assert that this symptom is the cause. But in spite of all their endeavours to prove that the cause of events lies in intellectual activity, it is only by a great stretch that one can agree that there is anything in common between intellectual activity and the movement of peoples. And it is altogether impossible to admit that intellectual activity has guided the actions of men, for such phenomena as the cruel murders of the French Revolution, resulting from the doctrine of the equality of man, and the most wicked wars and massacres arising from the Gospel of love, do not confirm this hypothesis.

But even admitting that all the cunningly woven arguments with which these histories abound are correct, admitting that nations are governed by some indefinite force called an idea—the essential question of history still remains unanswered; or to the power of monarchs and the influence of counsellors and other persons, introduced by the philosophic historian, another new force is now joined—the idea, the connection of which with the masses demands explanation. One can understand that Napoleon had power and so an event came to pass; with some effort one can even conceive that Napoleon together with other influences was the cause of an event. But in what fashion a book, Le Contrat Social, led the French to hack each other to pieces cannot be understood without an explanation of the causal connection of this new force with the event.

There undoubtedly exists a connection between all the people living at one time, and so it is possible to find some sort of connection between the intellectual activity of men and their historical movements, just as one may find a connection between the movements of humanity and commerce, handicrafts, gardening, and anything you like. But why intellectual activity should be conceived of by the historians of culture as the cause or the expression of a whole historical movement, it is hard to understand. Historians can only be led to such a conclusion by the following considerations: (1) That history is written by learned men; and so it is natural and agreeable to them to believe that the pursuit of their calling is the basis of the movement of the whole of humanity, just as a similar belief would be natural and agreeable to merchants, agriculturists, or soldiers (such a belief on their part does not find expression simply because merchants and soldiers don’t write history); and (2) that spiritual activity, enlightenment, civilisation, culture, ideas are all vague, indefinite conceptions, under cover of which they can conveniently use phrases having less definite signification, and so easily brought under any theory.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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