What is historical analysis. That is, the importance of historical analysis


It is known that historiography, understood as a discipline aimed at analyzing the facts and events of the more or less remote past, was born in Greece during the 5th century BC. It was in fact with Herodotus that historical analysis began based on a profound analysis of the “historical event” which concerned its genesis, causes (and reasons) as well as its effects and consequences. Herodotus’s historiographical approach also showed great interest in comparative analysis which placed the analyzed event in relation to other historical events to analyze any similarities or differences that could exist between them. Far from being “a temporal monad”, the historical event appeared, in Herodotus’s historiographical conception, as something fully inserted into the dynamics of human history and related to every other contemporary or antecedent human experience. All this within a divine conception of human experience in which historical facts are inserted into a “metaphysical design” whose purpose remains largely unknown “to the attentive gaze” of the historical analyst. Before Herodotus there was no historical analysis as such. Before him there was nothing more than a banal enumeration of events, placed in chronological succession and not related to each other by cause and effect relationships. Before Herodotus there were only logographers. That is, “historians” whose sole task was to propose historical events in chronological succession but without analyzing them in depth. Without understanding their causes and consequences. In short, without a real problematization of the historical event. Indeed, historical analysis has the arduous task of delving deeply into human experience in order to grasp the profound meaning of events with a strong impact on the political (and geopolitical), economic and social circumstances of specific “historical contexts”. Historical analysis is also very important to understand the present. It is almost essential to understand what the future dynamics of certain political, geopolitical, economic and social circumstances will be. In fact, this discipline teaches us that everything recurs over time. In different ways due to the temporal specificities of the moment. But always in a very similar way to what has already happened in the past. For this reason, an exact understanding of the past is essential to understand contemporary dynamics and predict future ones. Historical analysis is therefore the most precious tool that any respectable analyst should benefit from. However, he often doesn’t know how to grasp its potential or, more often, he derides its real didactic abilities. “This time it’s different”, we often hear. Especially when the story gives a different response than the desired one. This is demonstrated by the political and geopolitical analyzes of the contemporary age. Often so banal and elementary as to leave any historian worthy of the name astonished. And often so counterproductive as to cast doubt on the mental health of those who “developed” them. How many disasters could (and would have been) avoided if political and geopolitical action had been associated with an accurate historical analysis of the circumstances? Probably all or almost all. But the latter is only taken into consideration when its response fully complies with the wishes of the establishment. While she is ignored, and even mocked, when her response does not match the latter. Which, obviously, causes the political class to fall back into sensational (and completely avoidable) historical errors.


Historical analysis defines the cause and effect relationships of events that occurred in a specific time frame. At the same time, it relates the events in question to similar contemporary or previous events in order to reveal similarities and differences. It studies the political, geopolitical, economic and social context in which these events take shape in order to outline a “360 degree” profile. This is in order to arrive at a full understanding of the historical fact both as regards the causes (and motivations), the effects and consequences of the event, as well as the impact on contemporary economic, political and social dynamics, defining, in some way, the “historical significance” of the same (i.e. the magnitude of its impact on pre-existing structures). It follows that such a tool should be essential not only for historians as such but also for politicians, diplomats and experts in international relations and geopolitics. Yet, often in these areas we don’t even see a trace of it. These environments almost always do not want to be influenced (and bored) by “temporal vestiges” whose analysis is often uncomfortable (and counterproductive) for the apparatuses of power themselves. On the other hand, interest and reason almost never find a balance. Human action, and in particular political and geopolitical action, is clearly conditioned much more by interest than by reason. And when the latter gets in the way and warns of imminent dangers, it either scoffs or, in the worst cases, banishes itself. This is why historical analysis is taken into consideration only when fully functional to the “political and geopolitical courses” undertaken. When this condition does not occur it only represents a problem to be solved with ridicule and censorship. It is a script routinely recited on the global political and geopolitical stage. Revealing an often incurable conflict between reason (of which historical analysis is an expression) and the arrogance of power which does not listen to “adverse arguments” and does not allow indecision about the course taken.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *