Tag Archives: retcon

Hidden histories: Afghanistan

We all know about Afghanistan – a poor and predominantly Muslim nation that’s never really made it out of the Middle Ages, right?

Well, it turns out that’s simply not the case: retconning Afghanistan as a backward barbarian enclave has probably been useful for the global psyops propaganda machine (because what does one do with backward nations but export some much needed corporate democracy, in the hope of neutralising the threat that our earlier meddlings have created?), but as recently as the 1960s, Afghanistan was a modern progressive country… and to look at photographs from that era, you’d be hard pressed to tell at a glance that you weren’t looking at the science classrooms, record stores or factories of some Western nation [via MetaFilter].

Makes you wonder how much of our own national mythology has been carefully constructed retrospectively in order to tell a story we find comforting. For example, I’ve read quite a few books that suggest Britain’s “stiff upper lip” during World War Two was a long way from being as universal as we like to imagine. We’re also pretty fond of mentioning how we stopped the slave trade, but the fact that we played a large part in kickstarting that particular transAtlantic business model is usually left unvoiced…

So, a user-contribution opportunity for a Friday: share a conveniently glossed-over moment from the history of your preferred nation-state!