E. H. Carr

English historian, diplomat, journalist and international relations theorist (1892-1982)

Edward Hallett "Ted" Carr, CBE (28 June 18923 November 1982) was an English historian, diplomat, journalist and international relations theorist.

QuotesEdit

  • The vogue of Marxism in Great Britain and France, which began on a modest scale after the success of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, rapidly gathered momentum, particularly among intellectuals, after 1934, when it was discovered that Soviet Russia was a potential military ally against Germany.
    • The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939 (1945), Chap. 5 : The Realist Critique

What is History? (1961)Edit

  • The historian and the facts of history are necessary to one another. The historian without his facts is rootless and futile; the facts without their historian are dead and meaningless. My first answer therefore to the question, What is History?, is that it is a continuous process of interaction between the historian and his facts, an unending dialogue between the present and the past.
    • Chap. 1 : The Historian and His Facts
  • The historian, then, is an individual human being. Like other individuals, he is also a social phenomenon, both the product and the conscious or unconscious spokesman of the society to which he belongs; it is in this capacity that he approaches the facts of the historical past. We sometimes speak of the course of history as a ‘moving procession’. The metaphor is fair enough, provided it does not tempt the historian to think of himself as an eagle surveying the scene from a lonely crag or as a V.I.P. at the saluting base. Nothing of the kind! The historian is just another dim figure trudging along in another part of the procession. And as the procession winds along, swerving now to the right and now to the left, and sometimes doubling back on itself, the relative positions of different parts of the procession are constantly changing, so that it may make perfectly good sense to say, for example, that we are nearer today to the Middle Ages than were our great-grandfathers a century ago, or that the age of Caesar is nearer to us than the age of Dante. New vistas, new angles of vision, constantly appear as the procession – and the historian with it – moves along. The historian is part of history. The point in the procession at which he finds himself determines his angle of vision over the past.
    • Chap. 2 : Society and the Individual
  • History, then, in both senses of the word – meaning both the enquiry conducted by the historian and the facts of the past into which he enquires – is a social process, in which individuals are engaged as social beings; and the imaginary antithesis between society and the individual is no more than a red herring drawn across our path to confuse our thinking. The reciprocal process of interaction between the historian and his facts, what I have called the dialogue between present and past, is a dialogue not between abstract and isolated individuals, but between the society of today and the society of yesterday.
    • Chap. 2 : Society and the Individual
  • It is nonsense to say that generalization is foreign to history; history thrives on generalizations.
    • Chap. 3 : History, Science and Morality
  • Scientists, social scientists and historians are all engaged in different branches of the same study: the study of man and his environment, of the effects of man on his environment and of his environment on man. The object of the study is the same: to increase man’s understanding of, and mastery over, his environment. The presuppositions and the methods of the physicist, the geologist, the psychologist and the historian differ widely in detail; nor do I wish to commit myself to the proposition that, in order to be more scientific, the historian must follow more closely the methods of physical science. But historian and physical scientist are united in the fundamental purpose of seeking to explain, and in the fundamental procedure of question and answer.
    • Chap. 3 : History, Science and Morality
  • History therefore is a process of selection in terms of historical significance. To borrow Talcott Parsons’s phrase once more, history is ‘a selective system’ not only of cognitive, but of causal, orientations to reality. Just as from the infinite ocean of facts the historian selects those which are significant for his purpose, so from the multiplicity of sequences of cause and effect he extracts those, and only those, which are historically significant; and the standard of historical significance is his ability to fit them into his pattern of rational explanation and interpretation.
    • Chap. 4 : Causation in History
  • Facts cannot be derived from values. This is partly true, but may also be misleading, and requires qualification. When we seek to know the facts, the questions which we ask, and therefore the answers which we obtain, are prompted by our system of values. Our picture of the facts of our environment is moulded by our values, i.e. by the categories through which we approach the facts; and this picture is one of the important facts of which we have to take into account. Values enter into the facts and are an essential part of them. Our values are an essential part of our equipment as human beings. It is through our values that we have that capacity to adapt ourselves to our environment, and to adapt our environment to ourselves, to acquire that mastery over our environment, which has made history a record of progress. But do not, in dramatizing the struggle of man with his environment, set up a false antithesis and a false separation between facts and values. Progress in history is achieved through the interdependence and interaction of facts and values. The objective historian is the historian who penetrates most deeply into this reciprocal process.
    • Chap. 5 : History as Progress
  • History properly so-called can be written only by those who find and accept a sense of direction in history itself. The belief that we have come from somewhere is closely linked with the belief that we are going somewhere. A society which has lost belief in its capacity to progress in the future will quickly cease to concern itself with its progress in the past.
    • Chap. 5 : History as Progress
  • History is the long struggle of man, by the exercise of his reason, to understand his environment and to act upon it. But the modern period has broadened the struggle in a revolutionary way. Man now seeks to understand, and to act on, not only his environment, but himself; and this has added, so to speak, a new dimension to reason, and a new dimension to history. The present age is the most historically minded of all ages. Modern man is to an unprecedented degree self-conscious and therefore conscious of history. He peers eagerly back into the twilight out of which he has come in the hope that its faint beams will illuminate the obscurity into which he is going; and, conversely, his aspirations and anxieties about the path that lies ahead quicken his insight into what lies behind. Past, present and future are linked together in the endless chain of history.
    • Chap. 6 : The Widening Horizon
  • At a moment when the world is changing its shape more rapidly and more radically than at any time in the last 400 years, this seems to me a singular blindness, which gives ground for apprehension, not that the world-wide movement will be stayed, but that this country – and perhaps other English-speaking countries – may lag behind the general advance, and relapse helplessly and uncomplainingly into some nostalgic backwater. For myself I remain an optimist; and when Sir Lewis Namier warns me to eschew programmes and ideals, and Professor Oakeshott tells me that we are going nowhere in particular and that all that matters is to see that nobody rocks the boat, and Professor Popper wants to keep that dear old T-model on the road by dint of a little piecemeal engineering, and Professor Trevor-Roper knocks screaming radicals on the nose, and Professor Morison pleads for history written in a sane conservative spirit, I shall look out on a world in tumult and a world in travail, and shall answer in the well-worn words of a great scientist: ‘And yet – it moves.’
    • Chap. 6 : The Widening Horizon

From Napoleon to Stalin and Other Essays (1980)Edit

  • The essential result of the French revolution was to establish the doctrine of popular sovereignty as the foundation of modern Europe, though with no more precise definition of that elusive category "the people" than that popular sovereignty was the antithesis of the personal authority of the monarch.
    • "From Napoleon to Stalin" (1950)
  • In short, with the triumph of the industrial revolution and its inevitable consequence, the rise of the class-conscious proletariat, nothing could ever be the same again-not even political revolutions.
    • "From Napoleon to Stalin" (1950)
  • It was 1848 which shattered this comfortable dream. The dynastic principle, finally destroyed in France, was called in question and discredited all over central Europe; and, with popular sovereignty being now everywhere invoked as the basis of political authority, new nations began to make their voice heard.
    • "From Napoleon to Stalin" (1950)
  • The main casualty of this transformation in the foundations of society has been the theory and practice of liberalism, of the old liberal democracy and the old liberal nationalism. The fundamental tenet of a liberal. creed was the belief in the power of individual reason and in the reasonableness of man. Rational discussion and argument, the interchange of individual opinions, was the sure way to find the answer to any problem; and, since men were reasonable, difficulties could always be solved by compromise, not by fighting it out. Nationalism, in the liberal creed, meant the rational desire of men of the same race and kind for freedom to live together and run their affairs in common; those who enjoyed this freedom themselves would naturally respect it in others.
    • "From Napoleon to Stalin" (1950)
  • The renewed interest of the past two decades in "the rights of man", itself the product of notorious historical events, shows that mankind is at another of the great turning-points of history.
    • "Rights and Obligations" (1949)
  • Recognition of the truth behind the over-statements of revolutionary propaganda has long penetrated to circles which cannot be brought by any stretch of imagination within the orbit of socialism.
    • "Rights and Obligations" (1949)
  • The dilemma of reconciling political equality with political liberty was always resolved, down to the time of J. S. Mill, by defining liberty as freedom to do everything that did not restrict the liberty of others. But when equality comes to mean economic equality―or at any rate some enforced mitigation of economic inequality―and when liberty comes to mean something like liberty of opportunity, or free and equal access to the good things which society has to offer, the relation between equality and liberty takes on a new and much more baffling complexion.
    • "Rights and Obligations" (1949)

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