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Dan Snow is the ultimate midwit historian

daftandbarmy

Army.ca Dinosaur
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All hail the 'Midwits' ;).


Dan Snow, the TV historian, is anxious about his ‘privilege’. One of many ‘nepo babies’ in the British media, Snow’s debut came when he was 23 years old, fresh out of Oxford, co-presenting with his father Peter. Having benefited from his well-heeled upbringing, Snow now excitedly foresees the end of ‘inherited monarchy’ and ‘organised religion’. In an interview with the Times, Snow makes a confession:

‘Yes, I myself am a privileged white guy who went to Oxford and read history. Once upon a time the world was made for English-speaking white guys like me — the challenge is how I act now.’

Snow appears to express disappointment that Prince Harry, in Spare, didn’t try hard enough to expose the monarchy as ‘racist’ and ‘dangerous to those within it as well as its subjects’. His wife, the Lady Grosvenor, was Princess Diana’s goddaughter. Is he trying to compensate for something?

Intoning the usual liturgy about how we must ‘find our place in history’ (‘No one is blaming you for the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade,’ he says), Snow swerves randomly into musing about the Second World War:

‘You can love your country but also be aware that the story is not as simple as the Battle of Britain pilots were defending freedom; they were defending a British imperial system from an ambitious German imperial system’.

Snow launched History Hit, his streaming platform, partly because he fears that coverage of history is being dumbed down. But his comparison here is hard to comprehend. To frame the Second World War as being just a clash of ‘imperial systems’ is the stuff of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact-era Soviet propaganda. It should be met with the same suspicion that greets those who say the American Civil War was about ‘states’ rights’: the ‘ambitious German imperial system’ was ambitious to do what?

So why did Snow go there? A genre of internet meme might offer an answer. The Midwit Meme depicts three familiar figures on the intelligence spectrum. On the left is an unthinking troglodyte: the Oaf. On the right, is an enlightened, hooded, darkly monkish figure: the Savant. In the middle is the butt of the joke, the eponymous Midwit. The conceit of the Midwit Meme is that the Oaf and the Savant often have more in common with each other than either of them does with the Midwit: it is, in other words, the intellectual spin-off to horseshoe theory.

Take a broad-brush historical statement of the sort that might be known to your average Oaf, insofar as he thinks of any of these things at all. ‘The Dark Ages were a Dark Time in history’, say, or ‘Richard III was a Bad King’, or ‘Nero was also bad’. The Savant is unlikely to phrase these things in quite such a manner, but he would probably have to say that they are, in a basic and rudimentary sense, correct. Yet the Midwit, anxious to distinguish himself from his intellectual inferiors, finds his greatest thrill in quibbling such statements.

‘Well, actually,’ he begins, before dismantling ‘common misconceptions’ or ‘questioning the traditional narrative’. Another myth debunked, he smiles to himself as he gets into bed that night; another consensus smashed. (And, given the overlap between Midwittery and a certain type of politics, ‘another fascist owned’).

To the Midwit historian, like Snow, there simply is no greater thrill than slaying the most sacred cow you can find. Saying that the British Empire was bad will no longer cut it. There’s always more to revise, to subvert, to demolish. An Oaf might think that the Battle of Britain was a battle between Goodies and Baddies. Midwits know that, well actually, it’s a lot more complicated. The Savants know that everything in the world is complicated. But they also know – even if they don’t phrase it in quite such a manner – that the Battle of Britain was, in the end, a battle between Goodies and Baddies. Historians of Nazi Germany and the Second World War are often hyper-anxious that their subject-matter will be distorted by bad-faith actors on the political right. The real threat, however, comes from the Midwits.

Midwittery has always existed, but it’s finally having its moment. If you watch Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation you will find no trace of Midwittery. Clark came to delight in the sharing of knowledge, not to ‘debunk’, so almost everything he says is at once Oafish and Savantish (‘What is civilisation? I don’t know, but I think I can recognise it when I see it’). Some of the best passages in E.P. Thompson’s 1963 classic, The Making of the English Working Class, occur when Oaf and Savant join forces against Midwittery. Writing against R.M. Hartwell’s ‘well actuallies’ about the Victorian workhouses, Thompson concludes one of his most affecting chapters, after pages of highfalutin economic analysis, by reaffirming the ‘more traditional view: that the exploitation of little children, on this scale and with this intensity, was one of the most shameful events in our history’.

There is no greater manifestation of this wave of midwittery than TV historian Dan Snow. Snow’s intervention shows how the genre of popular history has been taken over by the Midwits. There are, of course, some holdouts of the Old Regime. But, by and large, popular historians, not to mention academic ones, conceive of their vocation as nothing more than pedantry masked as ‘subversion’.

 
All hail the 'Midwits' ;).


Dan Snow, the TV historian, is anxious about his ‘privilege’. One of many ‘nepo babies’ in the British media, Snow’s debut came when he was 23 years old, fresh out of Oxford, co-presenting with his father Peter. Having benefited from his well-heeled upbringing, Snow now excitedly foresees the end of ‘inherited monarchy’ and ‘organised religion’. In an interview with the Times, Snow makes a confession:

‘Yes, I myself am a privileged white guy who went to Oxford and read history. Once upon a time the world was made for English-speaking white guys like me — the challenge is how I act now.’

Snow appears to express disappointment that Prince Harry, in Spare, didn’t try hard enough to expose the monarchy as ‘racist’ and ‘dangerous to those within it as well as its subjects’. His wife, the Lady Grosvenor, was Princess Diana’s goddaughter. Is he trying to compensate for something?

Intoning the usual liturgy about how we must ‘find our place in history’ (‘No one is blaming you for the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade,’ he says), Snow swerves randomly into musing about the Second World War:

‘You can love your country but also be aware that the story is not as simple as the Battle of Britain pilots were defending freedom; they were defending a British imperial system from an ambitious German imperial system’.

Snow launched History Hit, his streaming platform, partly because he fears that coverage of history is being dumbed down. But his comparison here is hard to comprehend. To frame the Second World War as being just a clash of ‘imperial systems’ is the stuff of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact-era Soviet propaganda. It should be met with the same suspicion that greets those who say the American Civil War was about ‘states’ rights’: the ‘ambitious German imperial system’ was ambitious to do what?

So why did Snow go there? A genre of internet meme might offer an answer. The Midwit Meme depicts three familiar figures on the intelligence spectrum. On the left is an unthinking troglodyte: the Oaf. On the right, is an enlightened, hooded, darkly monkish figure: the Savant. In the middle is the butt of the joke, the eponymous Midwit. The conceit of the Midwit Meme is that the Oaf and the Savant often have more in common with each other than either of them does with the Midwit: it is, in other words, the intellectual spin-off to horseshoe theory.

Take a broad-brush historical statement of the sort that might be known to your average Oaf, insofar as he thinks of any of these things at all. ‘The Dark Ages were a Dark Time in history’, say, or ‘Richard III was a Bad King’, or ‘Nero was also bad’. The Savant is unlikely to phrase these things in quite such a manner, but he would probably have to say that they are, in a basic and rudimentary sense, correct. Yet the Midwit, anxious to distinguish himself from his intellectual inferiors, finds his greatest thrill in quibbling such statements.

‘Well, actually,’ he begins, before dismantling ‘common misconceptions’ or ‘questioning the traditional narrative’. Another myth debunked, he smiles to himself as he gets into bed that night; another consensus smashed. (And, given the overlap between Midwittery and a certain type of politics, ‘another fascist owned’).

To the Midwit historian, like Snow, there simply is no greater thrill than slaying the most sacred cow you can find. Saying that the British Empire was bad will no longer cut it. There’s always more to revise, to subvert, to demolish. An Oaf might think that the Battle of Britain was a battle between Goodies and Baddies. Midwits know that, well actually, it’s a lot more complicated. The Savants know that everything in the world is complicated. But they also know – even if they don’t phrase it in quite such a manner – that the Battle of Britain was, in the end, a battle between Goodies and Baddies. Historians of Nazi Germany and the Second World War are often hyper-anxious that their subject-matter will be distorted by bad-faith actors on the political right. The real threat, however, comes from the Midwits.

Midwittery has always existed, but it’s finally having its moment. If you watch Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation you will find no trace of Midwittery. Clark came to delight in the sharing of knowledge, not to ‘debunk’, so almost everything he says is at once Oafish and Savantish (‘What is civilisation? I don’t know, but I think I can recognise it when I see it’). Some of the best passages in E.P. Thompson’s 1963 classic, The Making of the English Working Class, occur when Oaf and Savant join forces against Midwittery. Writing against R.M. Hartwell’s ‘well actuallies’ about the Victorian workhouses, Thompson concludes one of his most affecting chapters, after pages of highfalutin economic analysis, by reaffirming the ‘more traditional view: that the exploitation of little children, on this scale and with this intensity, was one of the most shameful events in our history’.

There is no greater manifestation of this wave of midwittery than TV historian Dan Snow. Snow’s intervention shows how the genre of popular history has been taken over by the Midwits. There are, of course, some holdouts of the Old Regime. But, by and large, popular historians, not to mention academic ones, conceive of their vocation as nothing more than pedantry masked as ‘subversion’.

If his dad was still around.......
 
If these liberals twats were willing to walk the walk they'd get rid of their material privileges and live with the people they are so damn sorry about being abused by their ancestors. I'll wait.
 
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