Polemic and history clarified
After "discussing" history with Peter Staudenmaier for several weeks on the Anthroposophy Tomorrow e-mail list, I wrote an article on polemic and history summarizing my views on the matter. Based on some responses, I wrote the following clarifications:
True, polemic alone does not equate automatically to dishonesty. But the polemical approach is one that offers many temptations to dishonesty, especially to the historian. Some may be able to navigate the road with their integrity intact. Others fail. The reader should be aware of this in reading a polemical writer.
Further, it is hard to remain an effective polemical writer and at the same time remain an honest historian. As a historian, it is your responsibility to consider objections and additional complementary material that is brought to your attention. As a polemical writer, it is not in your interest to consider these objections and additional complementary material. Doing so weakens your argument. One way out of this is to "play dumb" and not actually "hear" any objections. That is the path Peter Staudenmaier has chosen. In his mind, his integrity is intact, because he has never met a serious objection to any of his work. At this point that game is starting to look utterly ridiculous. It also demonstrates that he in no measure can claim that he is an honest historian trying to understand a phenomenon of the past. He is merely a polemical writer with no interest in hearing anything that doesn't support his hypothesis. In as much as he claims to the contrary, his is impinging his own integrity.