Today’s instant and soluble coffee hardly allows us to approach the reality of the world with a perspective that exceeds the 24-hour cycle. The pathological nervousness of social networks has aggravated the disease of forgetfulness and decontextualization that is turning humans into beings without a past and oblivious to history.
Remembering and learning about the events of the past in order to orient oneself in the present and build the future is becoming increasingly difficult, not only because of presentism and the volatility of media culture, but also because there are many historicist resurgences that spring from the sources toxic and contaminated by power, around yearning imperial mythologies to justify military aggression or assaults on democracy.
Fake news, not only about the present, but also about the past, thus replace historical disclosure and reflection. The disruptive will of right-wing and left-wing populism, supported by mythological narratives and manipulated comics, thus breaks with the idea of the long time of historical evolution.
It is not an academic problem, not even a strictly intellectual one to be resolved in debates among historians. It is an issue that belongs to the era of political short-termism, opportunism and electoral demagoguery and the search for the maximum immediate economic benefits. Climate change, the retreat of liberal democracy or the energy and food crises lay their deepest roots in the disease of short and immediate time.
Hence the surprise that assails us all when suddenly we find ourselves sharing with very wide audiences a somewhat longer vision of history that allows us to get closer to and even better understand the vicissitudes of our present life. This has just happened, and twice, with the death of Mikhail Gorbachev and Elizabeth II, both linked to the decline of two separate empires, the Russian and the British, and to two powerful political ideas as transcendent as Soviet communism and the parliamentary monarchy .
Death definitively fixes the balance of a life and allows collecting and interpreting the legacy of the deceased. Regarding the balance, there is almost unanimity around the last Soviet president and the last queen of England. On the other hand, there can be no legacy that is not the subject of debate, although it is clear that in Gorbachev’s case it is the entire opposition to Putin’s violent Russia and, in Elizabeth II’s, the stability and popularity of the monarchy British.
Walter Bagehot, in his book The English Constitution, encrypted the value of the monarchy in its intelligibility by the common people, a formula that is not only valid for Elizabeth II but also for the dismantling of Soviet communism led by Gorbachev, which earned him the recognition of so many democrats and the resentment of so many authoritarian
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Source: EL PAIS