as an identity crisis often have to face professional discipline, history always have to justify their existence on two levels: one is the process of historical awareness, and the second is the function of historical knowledge. Postmodernism and knowledge sociology have had a huge impact on history on the first level, while public historiography requires historical self-innovation on the latter level. Observing the trend since the turn of the century, the discussion inside and outside the discipline has shifted from “how can historical knowledge be as close to historical truth as possible” to “how can historical knowledge benefit our survival and life”. “21.0: A Brief History of Contemporary Times” (hereinafter referred to as “21.0”) written by historian Andreas Rödder from the University of Mainz, Germany, proves the latter question. The value of historical writing. He tried to “explain the contemporary era with historical methods” to help people move forward with a “fearless attitude towards the future”.
The subtitle of “21.0” is “Contemporary History”. But this is not a “contemporary history” (Zeitgeschichte) in the strict sense, but a novel “history of the present” (Geschichteder Gegenwart). Hans Rothfels, the founder of the specialization of contemporary history research in the Federal Republic of Germany, once defined the objects of research in this field as: the era in which “contemporaries” lived and their scientific treatment of this era . In this concept of relativization, the demarcation of time has become a key issue in contemporary history research, and historians need to adjust the starting point of the “contemporary era” in stages. The years 1917/1918, 1945 and 1989/90 have successively become the beginning of contemporary history. Of course, whether the drastic changes in Eastern Europe and the reunification of the two Germans mean the arrival of a new era in contemporary history writing remains controversial. In any case, contemporary history is a research field defined by me based on a specific time period; in contrast, “present history” is a complete problem history, which neither focuses on time sequence, nor It does not aim to be comprehensive. After drawing on Max Weber’s method to divide the research objects into different types such as country, politics, economy, society and culture, the core of “21.0” is to explore: “In the contemporary era, what is new and what is the reproduction of historical templates? “So, in terms of time, this book does not have an exact starting point. It is based on contemporary phenomena and problems, and then traces the roots one by one. “As for how far back it is, it depends on each research object.”
Rhodes successively analyzed themes such as the digital revolution, global economy, energy policy, climate issues, socio-cultural and structural changes, “the motherland”, European integration, and world politics. He always uses rich facts to describe the phenomenon, then points out the problem, then analyzes the similarities and/or new changes between reality and history in the review of history, and finally gives his own judgment. He took Germany as the center of the circle, and Europe, the two sides of the Atlantic, the so-called Western world, and the whole world as concentric circles, and then stood in the center and looked outward. Constructing a complete picture of the current history, weighing and considering the branches of the zeitgeist, examining the influence of all major trends, distinguishing political disputes and the scientific thinking behind the discourse-all these are huge challenges for historians, or like De said by himself, it is an “adventure”. In this adventure, he put forward an insightful point of view, and it is inevitable that there will be undersight and bias.
on digitization, the world economic and environmental issues these big themes, Rhodes did not dwell too much. He just asked: Is it a new phenomenon that technological innovation has changed society? Is the acceleration of life at all levels a new phenomenon? Are people’s fears, hopes, defenses and adaptations of new technologies new phenomena? Is the second globalization an upgraded version of the first globalization, or a new phenomenon, or a combination of both? Was the world financial crisis from 2007 to 2009 a fundamental failure of capitalism? Or is it a periodic systemic crisis? Is climate change a new topic? How does it become a thorny problem deep in the complex network of science, media, and politics? By looking back at history, Rod gave a clear answer to the above questions. But he does not simply answer with “yes” or “no”. He always tries his best to present the complexity, multiplicity, nonlinearity and uncertainty of history and reality. However, in these areas, Rhode’s excellence has not yet been fully demonstrated. He has not provided more insights on the description of “now”, but only made some deeper interpretations of the status quo.
Starting from the third of the book, when Rod began to enter his more specialized field, he better combined inspection and analysis, and put forward many controversial but thought-provoking views . The first thing that attracts attention is his discourse on social culture and structural changes. Here, the core concept used by Rhodes is “value.” Values can be understood as universal and basic normative concepts of order, which “prescribe people’s thoughts, speech, and actions”. Rhodes is concerned: How has value judgment changed since the 1970s? What is the value of the new meaning structure? How can they further lead to more general social changes? For this reason, he put forward the viewpoint of “value transformation”. This transformation is manifested in two levels: one is the change in the connotation of a certain value itself, which is mainly reflected in people’s new understanding of freedom and equality; the second is the transformation of the entire value system, which is mainly manifested in the transition from modern value to postmodern Value change. However, Rod did not draw this transformation as a simple and clear line. The development of history has never been “new” completely replacing “old”. He analyzed the paradox and legacy of postmodernism, and emphasized that after deconstructing the traditional concept of order, postmodernism itself has constructed a new concept of order—“fusion”. Fusion points to diversity, tolerance, sharing, balance and integrity, but it also creates a new power structure. Because it is in the fusion culture that “traditional concepts and lifestyles of order have become the edge of discourse and norms.” The fusion culture centered on freedom and diversity has triggered changes in the social structure: consumption is regarded as a symbol of free choice and self-construction, and therefore has become an important factor in identity; the free market economy generates wealth and inequality, and the more market economy there is Vitality increases inequality; multiculturalism has become the norm in many societies, but it has challenged the formation of basic social consensus; the decline in the birth rate is mainly the result of enjoying more freedom; the attitude towards gender and family also means that Choose equally among many free choices.
In this part of the content, it is very obvious that Rod’s historical writing is constantly in dialogue with the diagnosis of the era of social science. He shuttled in the fields of sociology, social philosophy, social psychology, economics, political science and communication, and of course always returned to history in the end. In fact, in the past ten years, the question of “whether and when should contemporary historians associate with the results and theories of contemporary social science research” has triggered a long-lasting methodological dispute within German historical science. The main battlefield is the German language. In the world’s most important professional journal of contemporary history “Contemporary History Quarterly”. From 2009 to 2018, Rohde presided over a historical research project of the German Science Foundation on value transformation. Because “value transformation” itself is a social science concept, this research has become the best experiment for the integration of history and social science. In the conference proceedings of the project “Have there ever been a value transformation? “(Gab es den Wertewandel?, 2014), Rhodes clearly pointed out that for history, social science research can play three roles: “First of all, they act as historical observers by virtue of their own questioning methods and types of analysis. Conceptual starting point. Historical observation is never without preconditions. It always starts from presupposition. In this respect, they are (methodological and theoretical) references. Given their historical significance and historical applicability, they need to be reviewed Inspect. Secondly, they are used as empirical data and conclusions at their disposal. However, considering their prerequisites, methods, intentions and significance of results, history should be particularly critically cautious and expert opinions. To use them. In this regard, social science research can be regarded as a unique type between historical data and reference documents, or a connection between the two. Again, social sciences as actors, their research As an element of the social process, it is itself (in a broad sense) the object and historical data of the observation of the history of science.”
This is Rod’s basic position on social science research in “21.0”. First of all, at the level of theoretical enlightenment, you can see that his analysis of “value transformation”—including the subsequent discussion of the image of Germany and the EU—is an integration of the following historical and social science perspectives and methods: focusing on the world of collective representation The history of mentality and basic order assumptions, the historical semantics (Historische Semantik) that examines the use value and internal meaning changes of concepts and expressions in public communication, and the “public opinion” that explores the power dimension and contention elements of the majority and the minority in public communication (?FfentlicheMeinung) theory, dedicated to the framework analysis (Rahmenanalyse) to understand the validity and variability of the collective cognitive structure, as well as the distinction between beliefs, attitudes and values Political and cultural studies. Here he showed excellent theoretical application and comprehensive analysis ability. Secondly, at the level of application of results, Rhodes certainly used a lot of social science statistics, but at the same time, he was also soberly aware that the results of public opinion polls “to a large extent depend on the questions raised and Given the answer options”, “Social data is always affected by sociopolitical interests”, so “suspicion is an appropriate form of treating a clear contemporary diagnosis and confident future prediction.” Thirdly, at the level of scientific history research, he is devoted to analyzing the “reality defining power” possessed by empirical social science. For example, consumption research in social science affects people’s self-cognition and social classification. The dissemination and penetration of knowledge of humanities and social sciences in society will regulate and control the concept of social order, social behavior and social processes in different ways: this is the dual identity of social science as both a scrutinizer and a participant. In the analysis of social cultural and structural changes, we may oppose Rohde’s specific views, but we have to admire his acumen and precision in controlling various theories and materials.
In “21.0”, Rohde’s other core view is that the core historical elements that have influenced the development of Germany, Europe and even the world have shifted. He only briefly outlined the disasters in Germany in the twentieth century, including the failure of the two world wars, the Holocaust, and the split between the two Germans, while focusing on the contradictory opposition between German self-cognition and external perception. The conclusion: “Germany has once again become the strongest power in Europe. This is the real special feature of German history in the twentieth century: the force that overcomes all difficulties is so powerful.” This judgment on German history can be extended: ” The era of world wars and dictatorships affects collective memory as always. But this era is losing its significance as a reference period for understanding the present. On the contrary, with the experience of acceleration, globalization and digital world, two new references have emerged Time: The 1970s and 1980s when the power of World 3.0 was released and the era before 1914 when World 2.0 was formed.” Therefore, 1914 and the Bretton Woods system when the First World War broke out The collapse and the outbreak of the first oil crisis in 1973 became two key years of the 20th century.
In fact, since the beginning of this century, the 1970s has been generally regarded as an important watershed for development in the 20th century. Anselm Doering-Manteuffel (Anselm Doering-Manteuffel) and Lutz Raphael (Lutz Raphael) in “After the Prosperity” (NachdemBoom, 2008) pointed out that German history since the 1970s Development has shown a different face. In “Age of Fracture” (Age of Fracture, 2011), Daniel Rodgers of Princeton University in the United States also regarded the economic transformation of the 1970s as the beginning of a major tear in the ideological and cultural atmosphere of the entire American society. Of course, scholars have different opinions as to which year can be considered a “critical year”. Frank Bösch, director of the Research Center for Contemporary History in Potsdam, Germany, believes that the starting point of the world today is in 1979 (Zeitenwende 1979, 2019), because the power of Islam and China has played a new role in the world since this year. character of.
Therefore, what Rhodes’s point of view can be explored is not the time node he chooses, but first of all: whether the factors that affect collective memory and the factors that understand the current reality can be distinguished from the perspective of the “base period”. Opposition? Europe’s response to the refugee crisis proves that the actions of actors have always been influenced by the historical experience of their respective nation-states—especially the historical experience of the twentieth century—whether for Germany or other EU countries. Said it is all true. Therefore, when Rod points out that contemporary development is showing a trend of “disappearance in the twentieth century,” perhaps a big question mark should be added at the end. Perhaps even more controversial is, Nazism and the re-emergence, which one is the core feature of German history in the twentieth century? Of course, as contemporary history research advances in the “rhythm of generations”, Nazi history will inevitably lose its core position in the field of contemporary history under the trend of “farewell to contemporaries”. When an era changes from “contemporary” to “past”, due to intergenerational differences in the perspectives and positions of researchers, the descriptions of it may be very different. In the final analysis, this is not a factual judgment, but a question of value judgment. Furthermore, this is a question closely related to the presupposition of the purpose of contemporary history writing. Looking back at the tradition of contemporary history research in the Federal Republic of Germany after World War II, it can be seen that its specialization is first of all a product of social politics. When the “German Institute for Contemporary History” was established in East Berlin in March 1946, and when the U.S. Occupation Control Commission clearly requested the German side to conduct a thorough study of Nazi history in 1947, the task of contemporary history writing In fact, it was forced to fall on the heads of Federal German historians. Therefore, prior to the mid-1970s, contemporary history research around Nazi history did not settle down in an isolated and neutral posture. It is first of all the answer given by history in the face of realistic political challenges. It attempts to construct a historical writing that points to the future by consciously facing the past.
The future direction of contemporary history is far from the aim advocated by Rank to “educate the present and benefit the future” without writing history. But this is precisely what makes it unique. In a sense, contemporary history is a kind of “historical futurology”. Contemporary historians’ views on the future can be roughly divided into the following categories: First, the future is promising. Here, the historical space is a homogeneous, often linear space. Second, the future is malleable. Historians put more emphasis on human intervention and action. Third, the future is full of risks. What pervades here is a kind of historical pessimism. Fourth, the future is open. Historians emphasize the joint effect of various trends and the uncertainty of their forces. Rod is a supporter of openness. In the conclusion, he summarized five new events in the early 21st century, five historical patterns and three general trends that began in the nineteenth century. Perhaps it was when he looked back at the twentieth century with such a future-oriented posture, and when he judged the various forces of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with the influence on the future, he would write that the re-emergence is ” “What is truly special in German history in the twentieth century”. The theory of future openness is not new in contemporary history studies in German academic circles. Edgar Wolfrum (Edgar Wolfrum) of Heidelberg University supports this view (DieGeglückte Demokratie, 2006). Interestingly, in recent years, Rhode, born in 1967, and Wolfrum, born in 1960, have gradually become equal opponents: the latter’s “A World Split” (Weltim Zwiespalt, 2017) Similar to “The Climber” (DerAufsteiger, 2020), it uses thematic system analysis—not time course—to deal with the problems of world history and German history in the twentieth century. Of course, between Rod and Wolflum, there is not only the difference between researchers who focus on “framework” and those who focus on “memory”, but also the expert advisors of the CDU and the Social Democratic Party ( SPD) Differences among members of the Bureau History Committee.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the status of the history of GDR in “21.0”. In 1990, the writer Stefan Heym (Stefan Heym) asserted on the eve of the disappearance of the GDR: “Apart from becoming a footnote in world history, GDR has no other meaning.” In 2008, Hans-Wu The fifth volume of Hans-Ulrich Wehler’s “German Social History” (Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte) was published, in which he completely reduced the history of Democratic Germany to “a footnote” and made a comment on Heim The best response. Although some scholars refuted Weller’s approach, related discussions did not have a lasting impact. The GDR has always had an awkward position in the writing of German history and world history. The same is true in Rod’s work. In his analysis of the state of religious beliefs on 140 pages, he only mentioned “Germany” for the first time, and only a few words. After that, only when the topic of German reunification and East-West confrontation was involved, the GDR appeared as an inevitable object. In almost all the surveys of Germany, from industrialization, the role of the nation-state, immigration issues to European integration, whether it is in the selection of issues or the analysis of the situation, the western region has spread its huge wings, covering the eastern region. In this regard, Rhodes’s foothold is not the Republic of Berlin, but the Republic of Bonn.
In the historical book market of the 21st century, on the one hand, the grand narrative has lost its effectiveness, and the past, present and future cannot be connected in a simple mode of meaning; on the other hand, non-professional readers are eager to read summary and There are historical works with a broader perspective and a sharper perspective in time and space. After being published in Germany in 2015, “21.0” was quickly republished three times. Hans-Peter Schwarz praised Rohde’s writings, arguing that after Ralf Dahrendorf and Erwin Scheuch, no one in Germany considered the current social, political, economic and Moral issues are so deeply understood. In Rod, there are some unique charms of him as a historian. He has always been loyal to the disciplinary belief developed from the historicist tradition: exploring the causal relationship of specific phenomena, but not turning it into a universal law that emphasizes inevitability. He has been on the road of constructing persuasive arguments and constantly testing them. This is a unique way of doing things in history. He is also a typical contextualist, who firmly believes that thoughts will become dangerous once they break away from their reality. He has never concealed his clear position, even those that are too clear and inevitably raise objections. As a historian, he tells us: the new and the old are always entangled with each other, development will be in different directions, trends will be full of contradictions, problems will be numerous, and the future is uncertain. But as an optimist, he still believes that there will be an open future that is not only better but not just worse, even if humans cannot make clear predictions about it.