Recognizing achievements

History, in school, we are usually taught from the top down. Wars, Battles, Victories, Kings and Queens, charismatic leaders. The history of ordinary people tends to be rewritten to fit the established view or misinterpreted, sidelined, and sometimes ignored by the mainstream educational establishments. The study of history from the bottom up emphasizes the real and positive progressive changes in our culture and communities by the struggle of ordinary people not by the gift of governments and authorities. Workshops will highlight and illustrate history from this perspective


If we at the victories win by common people in preserving liberty and so forth, we find that they have been absorbed into the ‘established’ notion of the history of our culture and perhaps in some cases taken for granted as government led change. In most cases of socially progressive change, it is government that has bent to the will of the people and have had to be forced into making such changes, not the other way round as official accounts of history would suggest.

Noam Chomsky illustrates how in the 60s, dissent leading to social progress is absorbed into the mainstream official view or denied as relevant altogether.

It’s always going to tell you you failed.

“Partly it’s that there’s nothing in the official culture that’s ever going to tell you you succeeded. It’s always going to tell you you failed. The official view of the sixties is it’s a bunch of crazies running around burning down universities and making noise because they were hysterics or were afraid to go to Vietnam or something. That’s the official story. That’s what people hear. They may know in their lives and experience that that’s not what happened. But they don’t hear anybody say it, unless they’re in activist groups. That change is possible, that it has been won, is not the message that the system is pouring into you through television and radio and newspapers and books and histories and so on. It’s sort of beating into your head another story.

The other story is you failed, and you should have failed, because you were just a bunch of crazies. And it’s natural that the official culture should take that view. It does not want people to understand that you can make changes. That’s the last thing it wants people to understand. So, what the mainstream media conveys is that if there have been changes, it’s because we, the elites, are so great that we carried through the changes”.


Understanding Power Noam Chomsky



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