Historiographical “innovations” in educational books (Michas Bic).
The way of representation of history of Belarus of the late 18th—early 20th century in the book History of Belarus. Part I. From the ancient time till February of 1917 is being reviewed. The editors of the publication are professors J.Novik and H.Marcul. It is admitted by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Belarus as an educational aid for students of higher school.
Tendentious pro–Russian approach in the illumination of the policy of tsarism in Belarus, aspiration of the authors to justify it is marked in the review. Capture of the Belarusian lands by empress Catherine II in the late 18th century is disguised in the book by non–scientific term “entry”, as though they have entered into Russian Empire according to their own will. The process of “entering” is groundlessly stretched till the middle of the 19th century.
The problems of development of agriculture, industry, transport, trade, towns, dealing with taxes and duties of population, status of townsmen and peasants, peasant’s movement in the late 18th century — 1850–ies are not examined at all. The crisis of the feudal system is only declared. There are mistakes in the estimation of the reforms of Kisialiou.
The authors groundlessly ascertain that annexation by Russian Empire promoted the development of capitalism in Belarus and even contributed to consolidation of the Belarusian people — that is in the time when Russian tsarism didn’t recognize the Belarusians to be a distinctive nation. In essence, closing of the University of Vilnia and liquidation of the Uniate Church are positively estimated.
Numerous contradictions and inaccuracies in illumination of different reforms of that period can be found. Substantially, the industrial revolution has appeared to be ignored. There is a number of errors and contradictions in statistical materials used in the book.
Dealing with the situation in agriculture on the break of the 19—20th centuries a paradoxical conclusion has been formulated, as if in Belarusian village till that time “without any exception the whole set of economical methods and exploitation which are characteristic to serfdom have been preserved” or, in other terms, feudalism and serfdom predominated. This conclusion agrees with thesis about social consequences of the development of agriculture in Belarus in the decades after the reform of 1861. Nothing is said about formation of new social classes but instead we are informed that “side by side with landlords” “an extremely specific stratum of small landowners” arose, i.e. social stratum which was formed in the 15—16th century!
Speaking about the Uprising of 1863—1864 the authors didn’t say a word about liberation character of the Polish movement but emphasized its anti–Russian tendency. On the whole the Uprising is showed inadequately so as social and political situation in two next decades.
The development of social–democratic movement in the 1890ies, revolutions of 1905—1907 and of February of 1917 are misrepresented, too. Here, the authors tried to revive a false construction of the local Bolsheviks.
So, we came to a conclusion that the way of representation of history of Belarus of the late 18—early 20th century in the book under review does not meet requirements made on educational book neither in its scientific level nor in methods of teaching.