October 1519 was a dangerous month for living in central Mexico. A new invading army with metal plated chest armor, leather boots, helmets, pikes, swords, horses, and a few firearms were on the march – literally. These hundreds of foreign speaking men smelled real bad and a good amount of the men sported beards, which clustered stale food droppings mixed with dried mucus. They were a sick sight to behold.
An even sicker sight was a strange disease never seen before, which had already wiped out whole villages on the Caribbean coast. Thick red and black bulbs grew on the outside of the body and then the human form would rot from the inside out!
Accompanying these rancid bearded men, thousands of Tlaxcalan warriors marched ready to do some damage to their old enemies, the Aztec-Mexican Empire. Spanish conquistadors acted with discernment when encountering advanced civilizations, (meaning urban societies), during their invasions. They first acknowledged the main empire to fight, and then they made alliances with their enemies in order to destroy them. Only twenty years later, they would use the same tactics against the Inca Empire in Peru.
The Spanish had already destroyed some of the crack Aztec warriors within the pyramid of Cholula. The Spanish warriors would soon enter Tenochtitlan, the capital city, and take Moctezuma II hostage. Eventually, the Aztec-Mexica warriors counterattacked in the capital city, and they almost exterminated the Spanish with their Tlaxcalan allies. But the Spanish-Tlaxcalan alliance won the final war in August, 1521. This ad-hoc alliance finally destroyed the Aztec-Mexica empire centered in Tenochtitlan. But there was another invading force that gave the new invaders a special edge.
What truly destroyed the Mexica-Aztec capital was a strange outbreak, never experienced beforehand in central Mexico, called ‘cocolitzli,’ or smallpox, which burst forth in the year 1520. An outbreak had ultimately hit the capital that same year, and it had killed the very emperor himself, Cuitlahuatzin. The epidemic spread all over central Mexico, which of course, made ‘the conquest,’ so much easier. Even the Spanish allies, the Tlaxcalans, experienced its ravages.
A hundred years later, from August 1521, 90 % of the indigenous population of central Mexico would die terribly due to recurring plagues and epidemic outbreaks. The Conquest owed a lot more to micro-biological history than to the genius of Cortes, or even due to the thousands of Tlaxcalan warriors that had increased Cortes’ military forces up towards 8,000 troops.
Yet, crap history accounts continue to rant about the military brilliance of Hernan Cortes, or the invincibility of the Spanish knight-conquistadors, or the funniest account of all, that the Mexica-Aztecs, especially Emperor Moctezuma II, thought that the Spanish were gods. All of these accounts are lies, legends and represent crap history.
How does the discerning historian spot the crap history, or the excrement, from the real and actual history?
Crap history accounts always resort to easy one line reasons for historical acts.
All of those crap accounts are lies because we humans, under the human condition of civilization, are too complex for easy one liners. Looking outside the window at the world around us, we see the incredible complexity that represents the living humanity moving in and out of the urban streets. Since the birth of human civilization, humans have had this human complexity. True history always shows the intricacies that lie behind the incredible acts of human violence.
Crap history also has a particular and very open agenda. It is often found within the pages of state college and public school textbooks, corporate media hype broadcasts, boring history teacher lectures and in museum displays. There is an old saying that the winners write the history books. This is true.
After the Spanish imperial invasions in the Americas, Spanish conquistadors did recount their great ‘heroism and valor.’ But their accounts are often annotated with ego rants and descriptions that defy ordinary beliefs. Their hodgepodge of historical offerings are actually quite hard to read, and few historians use Cortes’ own ‘incredible account,’ for historical research.
The same historical problem also relates to the winners codifying and arranging their writings in archives and in libraries, so that later historians would have easier access to their works. A bad historian will simply read their works and recopy the garbage found in their notes. A good historian however, will reread their writings and then look for particular themes that pop out between the lines. The well-trained historian reads with the discerning eye, while the crap historian reads as a copyist – and then writes a pathetic book or article that most people don’t care to read anyway.
Unfortunately, the historical profession still suffers from the infection of crap history and crap historians. But there is a solution.
Anyone can do the art of reading and write real and actual history. All it takes is the eye of discernment. While reading an ancient text, the historian ought to ask his or herself a few questions: why is the author writing this work, who is the intended audience, how does the author put the work in order, and what was the historical context of the work? We all have our own agendas – and so did our forbears in human history. The official history of United States is a perfect example of the recurring plague of crap history.
The official and standard, crap Amerikan history only lists the official wars of the United States government against other official states, such as Britain, France, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Korea, China, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also gives a special section on the Civil War.
The real and actual history however includes the US govt.’s continual wars of extermination against the Native nations on the continent, the war against the Mormon religion, the Civil War-War of Northern Aggression, the war against crime or against African-Americans, the war against Asian aliens, the war against ‘illegal’ drugs or against young people of color, the war against alcohol or Prohibition, the war against Terrorism, or against Islam, the war against Narco-terrorism-Latino drug cartels, the war against obscenity, the war against International Communism, or the Cold War, the war against illegal immigration, the war against the poor-lumpen proletariat that have no work skills, the war against drunk drivers, etcetera.
The official and standard crap Amerikan history prefers the points of view of presidents, generals, the rich and the powerful. It often praises both their acts of greatness and crimes; while it never offers the perspectives of their unfortunate victims. Crap history acts if the rich and the powerful represent the entire country, culture and society! Obviously, the upper classes don’t live like the rest of us.
The real and actual history includes the perspectives, thoughts, writings and actions of a whole diverse group of historical players: the homeless vagabond, the construction worker-laborer, the skilled mechanic-artisan, the sick and dying in the hospitals, the feisty small business owner-merchant, and the prisoner locked away in some prison-dungeon. Their views matter because they had the gift of human life and lived during a certain historical epoch. What they did with their lives was their business, and often due to birth, they had no other choices open to them.
Again, the complexity of human history comes into play. Even within a particular regional culture, the local humans have represented diverse backgrounds, such as familial relations, ethnic histories, work experiences, and educational formations. All of these elements, and even more that I haven’t listed in this paragraph, construct an individual’s cultural frames.
We frequently live our lives on dysfunctional remote control containing jumbled past experiences, contradictory cultural references and mental juggling acts. We the people under the condition of civilization are complex and all too human.
The Anarchist revolutionary must also act as a historian. He or she understands the truth of this human condition. Any time we hear some mad ranter or pseudo-expert historian ramble about the simple and easy answer to any current problem in society, then we need to either ignore the screamer, or if it is within a private setting, then rebuke the foolish discourse.
We clean our asses after excreting the feces. Our lifetimes are too short for tolerating anymore crap history.