This comes in his discussion of the Holocaust, which he prefaces with some theoretical declarations about his approach to history, also noting, "A repressed past easily becomes a curse."
He offers these three bullet-points:
Küng isn't making only methodological points for academic research there. In the second bullet point, he emphasizes a focus on "the ethical difference between humanity and inhumanity, good and evil."
- Neither a national history nor a church history may be sweepingly 'instrumentalized' in the interest of a particular party, state or church policy as a means of creating identity. As Habermas has remmarked, history is not a 'substitute religion', capable of offering compensatory meaning to those deprived o f their roots in the process of modernization, and creating a consensus in state and church.
- Rather, both national and church history need to be examined critically and appropriated self-critically: with a view not only to the historical dialectic of continuity and interruption, but also to the ethical difference between humanity and inhumanity, good and evil.
- So those who because of negative historical experiences have a critical relationship to their own history and thus have a heightened moral awareness and greater human sensitivity can help to avoid the repetition of earlier mistakes. They can find a new, freer identification with their state or their religion, which excludes the former uncritical total identification with all its totalitarian consequences.
I could undoubtedly fine ways to quibble with or qualify some of what he says in the bullet-points. But I'm not really inclined to try. Because it largely reflects my own approach to history. And the kind of emphasis I've given here to the events that developed democracy and human freedom.
That's also how I've used the historical figure of Andrew Jackson, for which this blog was named for most of its existence ("Old Hickory's Weblog"). The fact that a white supremacist view of Andrew Jackson via Steve Bannon and Donald Trump has become for the moment the "hegemonic narrative" in popular usage in the US is an obscenity. One I hope will be short-lived. Because that also reflects a serious deficiency in how the left in the US tends to both understanding and use early American and antebellum history.
History, the study and evaluation of the past, has an indispensable empirical basis. But it also involves quality in the construction of narratives and both technical and normative judgments about the significance of events. Those different aspects can be distinguished. But never entirely separated.