Old Glory

In Pol Pot: The History of a Nightmare, Philip Short attributes his bloody behavior to resentment over his country's loss of the glory of the Angkor empire. Such futile longing is a worldwide phenomenon. The empires which the European powers created were largely attempts to recreate the Roman Empire (albeit Holy) with Emperors or Czars (Caesars).  Mussolini hoped to restore the Roman Empire with Rome as its center. Hitler dreamed of reviving the glory of Emperor Friedrich I, Barbarossa who, according to legend, would come back to life to save Germany.  Did Hitler think he was Barbarossa redivivus?  Since Barbarossa invaded and ravaged Italy three times,  Mussolini could not be happy at the prospect.  Franco hoped to recover the glory of Spain's Golden Age, which led in Latin America to a campaign against Columbus and the Spanish conquest.  It is still going on: just last week a statue of Columbus in Caracas was torn down, presumably on orders from Hugo Chavez, who views himself as another Bolivar. Some Mexicans dream of restoring the hypothetical glories of Aztlan, while some Peruvians dream of restoring the Inca Empire.  In Africa, Mugabe, a petty Pol Pot, dreams of restoring the mythical glory of Zimbabwe. In all these cases, dreaming of past glory has led to tragedy.  The big question is: What role have history textbooks played in this? An enormous research project.

Your comments are invited. Read the home page of the World Association of International Studies (WAIS) by simply double-clicking on:   http://wais.stanford.edu. Mail to Ronald Hilton, Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Please inform us of any change of e-mail address.

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: November 20, 2004