I know, I often am blamed for my condescending attitude towards humanities and especially History, the way it is being written and taught in the Anglo-Saxon world. We all can recall Sir Anthony Beavor who, far from being real military historian, paraded himself as the man who has issues grasping force structure and basic math. And he is just one such "historian' who produced meme in Russia about gazillion "raped" German women. Examples of such "history" and "historians" abound everywhere and in Russia too, be that Solzhenitsified caricature on 1930s-50s to Fomenko's famous "new chronology". History is no less about juxtaposition of the facts than it is about deliberate and highly responsible research. I was among many who applauded Kremlin's decision to close Russian archives to Western "historians" most of who basically "research" there for anti-Russian narratives, not for history.
But then there is another issue--by the year 2023 history as a scientific field ran, no smashed, full speed into the brick wall of technological and natural complexity of the world. And here is the piece in TAC, which I visit periodically, in which Sumantra Mairta makes a case for The End of (Academic) History. She reasonably complains that:
The academic discipline of history was always a courtly subject. One, it needs an emotionally detached and occasionally amoral temperament to be done right. There is a reason cardinals and monks were often great historians, as were adventurers and soldiers. Two, it needs patronization. History as a subject was never egalitarian, but in a paradoxical way it used to be a lot freer. Statesmen posted in far-off colonies during peak Victoriana were free to travel around and study a subject or a civilization. They did it as a hobby, were unbiased about their subjects, and were usually under no financial pressure to toe a political line, the human and social biases of those times notwithstanding. Those who were not in a position for that, but were still exceptionally talented or meritorious otherwise, were patronized individually or through an institution, yet with little scholarly pressure. That changed gradually after the Second World War, and especially with the rapid institutionalization and mass-democratization of the discipline in the 1980s and ’90s.
The recent passing of one of the greatest, Corelli Barnett, symbolizes the completion of "democratization" of history, that is to say the destruction of it, and even in her short essay Maitra exposes a brick wall.
I once wrote a short essay on the direction of historical and political research in which a couple of throwaway sentences caused some mild uproar. “One has only to look at the history departments in British Universities to see how seriously interdisciplinary research has diluted the discipline. Today, a historian of World War I studying fleet tactics is considered to be on an equal footing with someone exploring post-structural erotic subtexts in letters from the trenches.” The crisis in the discipline of history isn’t new and will only get worse...
Well, since the issue of WW I fleet tactics was touched, one has to point out immediately what researcher of said tactics can not do without, even for the primitive times of steam and steel. To REALLY study such a tactics one has to start with basic issues of navigation and maneuvering, which, even during WW I have been mechanized as much as possible but still required this:
And then comes this--and this is where the brick wall becomes impenetrable and requires apart from extremely complex highly specialized knowledge training, also, very high level clearances.