Caution in handling generally accepted opinions that claim to explain whole trends of history is especially important for the historian of modern times, because the last century has produced an abundance of ideologies that pretend to be keys to history but are actually nothing but desperate efforts to escape responsibility.
Every nationalist is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered. He spends part of his time in a fantasy world in which things happen as they should — in which, for example, the Spanish Armada was a success or the Russian Revolution was crushed in 1918 — and he will transfer fragments of this world to the history books whenever possible.
The writing of history is largely a process of diversion. Most historical accounts distract attention from their secret influences behind great events. The few histories that escape this restrictive process vanish into obscurity through obvious processes. Destruction of as many copies as possible, burying the too revealing accounts in ridicule, ignoring them in the centers of education, insuring that they are not quoted elsewhere.
Every powerful state relies on specialists whose task is to show that what the strong do is noble and just and, if the weak suffer, it is their fault.
In the West, these specialists are called "intellectuals" and, with marginal exceptions, they fulfill their task with skill and self-righteousness, however outlandish the claims, in this practice that traces back to the origins of recorded history.