Being well versed in history is preferable to being well versed in law: history came first, law came second…

Dr. John Lukacs, Historian

Dr. John Lukacs, Historian

“Here is the essential difference between historical and legal evidence ― or between historical and legal thinking.  Law (at least in a state governed by a constitution) can deal only with actuality, not with potentiality.  “The law is a coarse net; and truth is a slippery fish.”  Yes, but the purpose of law has nothing to do with truth: it is the establishment of justice.  Truth and justice are not the same things, even though the pursuit of truth and the pursuit of justice may, on occasion, overlap.  But besides the question (or, rather, the obvious primacy) of truth over justice, there are other important differences between historical and legal evidences and thinking.  One is that law, after all ― inevitably and necessarily ― is a closed system, within its own definite rules and regulations.  For instance, it does not and should not allow multiple jeopardy: a case, when and if properly tried, is decided once and for all.  History (and our memory) is open and never closed; it specializes in multiple jeopardy: its subjects and people are rethought over and over again, and not even necessarily on the basis of newly found evidence. . . .  Another great difference ― I am again referring principally to Anglo-American law ― is the one between motives and purposes.  These two are regrettably confused because of the vocabulary and the practices of twentieth-century psychology and thought, the attribution of motive having become a pestilential habit [my italics].  But we must distinguish between the two.  Motives come from the past; purposes involve the pull of the future.  At its best, Anglo-American law will admit only a “motive” which has been, in one way or another, expressed; in other words, an actuality, not a potentiality.  (As Dr. Johnson said: “Intentions must be gathered from acts.”)  At its worst, unexpressed motives are sometime attributed and accepted in some courts on the basis of psychological characterization and other dubious “expertise.”  A proper comprehension of the essential difference between motives and purposes is an essential condition of the pursuit and of the protection of justice and of truth ― and of all historical thinking and speaking and writing.” ― Remembered Past; On History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge, by John Lukacs, Chapter I, Page 8, edited by Mark G. Malvasi and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, © 2005 ISI Books.

Front Cover copyThe attribution of motive is indeed a regrettably pestilential habit; a mental gymnastic born in the late 1960s; a programming byproduct of the American Academy’s purposeful foray into student mind-control, which has regrettably become part and parcel of the post modern American mental map. For example, various ‘reviewers’ of my book, Punchy Company, offered mere denigration in the guise of criticism:

  •  “It is self serving and disappointing.”
  • It doesn’t capture the atmosphere or the challenges of being hours away from a shooting war.”
  • He [The author] “…claims to have solved the I Corp communications problems all by himself. What a big ego and he claims he was great buddies with senior officers and Generals.”

 I cannot deny the first point. It is self serving, but only insofar as it was my purpose to record and report my remembrances from a time and place long since gone; a world never to be regained, and truthfully; without any editorial license.

 Regarding the second pronouncement, more than 550,000 hours (63 years, +/-) have expired since being ‘hours away from a shooting war’, and the clock is still ticking. ‘Challenges’ were present but not as melodramatic as these critics would have us believe.

Finally, the narrative did not claim, indicate, nor imply that I solved the I Corps communications problems; no, not in manner way shape or form. However, and this is impartially documented, I did fix, with the help of my peerless soldiers, the long haul and tactical communications problems that had long plagued the 38th brigade (AD)—for years prior to my arrival, and I was therefore held in very high regard for this work by many Flag and senior field grade officers, but I never claimed to be ‘buddies’ with any of them—I am not so presumptuous, foolish, or childish.

 

 

About Michael

Retired military officer; retired Air Force civil servant; retired executive, DS Information Systems Corporation; writer; researcher; reader and avid yachtsman.
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