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> From: MARK SAFRANSKI <email@example.com> wrote: > >>"Lawrence Serewicz's recent post on Professor Buzzanco's Bernath Lecture struck me as one of the most cogent and methodical rebuttals I've seen on H-Diplo. Taken in tandem with Professor Kaiser's own formidable retort on the same topic, a powerful challenge has been raised to the " New Left " position championed by Robert Buzzanco. What I would like to address however is the concluding questions Mr. Serewicz posed regarding the use or abuse of citations and by implication, the ethical state of the historical profession and the validity of its work."<< I think that Mr. Safranski puts more emphasis on my post than it can bear. Therefore, I want to clarify some points regarding my post and its intent. My intent, in pointing to Mr. Buzzanco's claim and the evidence supporting it was not to rebut the "New Left" or to make a political statement. I do not intend to discuss Mr. Buzzanco's politics because that is a private matter. What I intended to do was discuss a piece of evidence that he cited to support one of the sub-claims within his larger argument. I am not interested in rebutting the "New Left" because that is a pointless exercise. One cannot rebut a concept. The "New Left" is not making this or any argument, it is a concept, not a person. I am simply concerned with Mr. Buzzanco's arguments, or rather his claims and the evidence he uses to back them up. What I am contesting Mr. Buzzanco's methodology not his ideology. In many ways, I agree with Mr. Buzzanco's concern for social justice and the fate of the United States' soul, but his evidence detracted from his argument. In other words, I think he could have made a better argument. While I cannot control what Mr. Safranski writes or how he uses my statements, I can control what I write and what I say. I think that just as Mr. Buzzanco put too much weight on one piece of evidence, I think that Mr. Safranski is attributing too much to my post and my concern over what Mr. Kennan said and what that means. I did not set out to write about the "New Left" or Mr. Buzzanco's politics or his intent in using evidence. I set out to write about a piece of evidence. My further comments on epistemology was not an attempt to indict the whole field. While I am flattered that Mr. Safranski thinks that, I do not think that. I think the health of the field and its scholarship are much safer than Mr. Safranski assumes. However, that is besides the point and is not something I was trying to address in my post. My post only gets to the heart of the historical field by elucidating the well known observation that to write history requires the historian to choose to include or exclude information. We cannot draw a one to one map of history. My concern in my final general comments is what am I supposed to do when I come across situation where the material selected does not measure up to the point being made. Please note that I am not concerned with the intent or the politics behind the decision to include or exclude information. At that point, only the author knows why they did this and if the text does not tell us why, then we make a conclusion about that intent based upon conjecture. In other words, to surmise someone's intent behind choosing or excluding a piece of evidence is a waste of time because only one person knows that reason: the author. Mr. Safranski has made the connection between evidence and intent, I have not. One only needs to read my original post to see that I did not mention the authors intent or politics regarding why or why not evidence is included or excluded. What I am concerned with is what I am to do as a student when I realize that the author has not grasped what the material says? Or the author has made an argument that the evidence cited does not fully support? Do I simply move on and forget about it? Do I simply note it for future reference? In most cases, I will never meet the author of the book or the article I am reading so it is hard to figure out what they meant or whether they considered their argument to be valid. For example, I will never be able to interrogate Niccolo Machiavelli in the way that I can interrogate Mr. Buzzanco and his work. With Machiavelli, I simply re-read his text and go over it line by line while trying to understand what he means, whether he was aware of counter arguments and counter points. I am aided in this venture by what others have understood him to say. However, when I have the chance to question a living author, I will question him or her. I doubt that any author has the time or the desire to sit down with a student and go over their work line by line and point by point explaining, clarifying, and amplifying their remarks. While such a possibility would be a great learning experience and well worth paying a large sum of money, it will never happen. The next best alternative is to ask the author one or two questions at their lecture and hope that they respond. I say hope because there are many lecturers who have mastered the art of not answering a question. I was not at the lecture so I could not ask Mr. Buzzanco directly to see how he would have qualified his argument. As a result, this is the next best alternative but a text cannot respond in such a manner. The reason why I chose Mr. Buzzanco is because most of the material he covered in his lecture relates to material I am covering in my own dissertation. Moreover, I take Mr. Buzzanco's work seriously and I would not waste my time reading someone's essay five times if I thought it was simply an example of dishonest scholarship. I took Mr. Buzzanco's arguments seriously in _Masters of War_ and I take them seriously in his Bernath Lecture. If someone else had written on the material and it had related to my interests then I would have given them the same attention. I do not know how that would have developed, but if they made a claim and backed it up with evidence I did not believe to be adequate, then I would call them on it. In sum, my goal was not to question Mr. Buzzanco's intent, to question his politics, or the "New Left". Moreover, I am not trying to infer malicious intent or political intent behind his scholarship. One only need to read my post to see that there is no mention of the "New Left". My goal is to take Mr. Buzzanco to task for what I consider a weak argument. I think it is the duty of any scholar to challenge what they think are weak arguments. I thought this was the whole point behind H-Diplo. If someone makes a claim and backs it up with insufficient evidence, then it should be pointed out. (As has been pointed out to me many times.) I am interested in people's arguments not their politics. If someone says Ronald Reagan should be tried as a war criminal, I am interested to see what their argument is for making this claim. Just as the H-Diplo list went through a spate of denouncing Mr. Chomsky without engaging his work beyond an anecdotal level. Is it scholarship to assume someone's politics or their intent and dismiss their work based upon that evidence? How can we hope to learn if our ideas and claims based upon those ideas are not challenged on the basis of the claim, the evidence, and the warrant that connects them. If this is to be accomplished solely by determining someone's politics and then pigeonholing their work, then I want no part of it. Finally, I thought and still think Mr. Buzzanco's argument is weak because the evidence does not *appear* to support the claim. I say appear because we can discuss what would have supported his claim. (As I am sure that people will make claims backed by evidence to the contrary of my view.) Thus, my concern is with his evidence not with his intentions or his politics. Lawrence Serewicz