Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Naissance Drug Test

Drug tests can apply historically. They store samples, and so in the arms race between performance enhancement and those trying to police, time is on the side of truth. It doesn't change the result. Lance Armstrong had his seven victories 'voided', but the new winners can't retrospectively get the spoils. Usain Bolt can't call himself the 'Triple Triple' winner after Nesta Carter was found positive, so there are repercussion, but the past can't be undone. Truth only affects the time in which it is true.

History gets retrospective drug testing too. The artists, poets, musicians, and storytellers of Europe pitched the Enlightenment as a 'Renaissance'. Historian Peter Frankopan points out that it was more of a 'Naissance'. More birth than rebirth. The discovery of sea routes to the New World pivoted the Old World from its centre in the East. When Alexander went conquering, he went east. When the Mongol's extended their empire, they didn't think pushing further west was worth the effort. Western Europe had far less to do with Greece and Rome than any number of the other important empires of the east. The Silk Roads were long the arteries of civilisation while Western Europe was the cold toes.

It was convenient to pitch a passing of the torch along a line of development of ancient civilisations. To claim ownership. It enhanced performance, and pitched Colonialism as the successor to the failed Crusades. Instead of claiming the holy lands, they would take religion to foreign lands. The new civilising mission could be used as justification for any number of other motives.

As stories are reread, they are compared to other stories. Inconsistencies come to light. Questions get asked. History may be written by the victors, but the one consistent thing in history is that victors come and go. Evidence lasts a little longer.

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