On historiography

I encountered this debate motion once in some obscure debate competition against some obscure debate team from some obscure international school. It went along the lines of whether a national history syllabus should ever be shaped in any way by an incumbent government. After a lengthy and no less cringe-worthy debate with an orgy of over-used, cliched examples of guilt-ridden Germans and Yasukuni-Shrine-loving Japanese, it become painfully apparent than a completely objective history syllabus (which the sanctimonious opposition team was advocating) is humanly impossible.

An education system is after all a human institution, more often than not directed by pencil-pushing bureaucrats under the behest of well-intending politicians or otherwise nationalistic lobby groups. And thus, any government-sponsored syllabus is inherently, invariably and ultimately biased and subjective just as how any epistemologist would say as well for any belief held by any sentient being other than god(s) him/herself/themselves.

I don’t actually have much of a problem with that actually. After all, the objective of the study of history is never for an “unbiased” narrative of facts and long dead people but rather for a balanced basket of narratives and perspectives since history is the study of human agency and humans always dispute one another. And unfortunately for any idealist, there is no absolute truth and truth like history, is a living breathing organism that changes and flip-flops till all humans die out and all is forgotten until found again by alien archaeologist in the distant future.

Then again, looking at the Southeast Asian history syllabus in hindsight, I get the damning feeling that the entire syllabus has been so punctiliously constructed that it will point, and only point to one inevitable conclusion, and that is Singapore has succeeded in every aspect where every other Southeast Asian states has failed so mediocrely and pathetically (keyword here is pathetic).

How very histrionic.

Fukuyama obviously disagrees

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