Friday, July 1, 2016

The past has to be controlled as much as the present

No, I still do not think that Putin is another Stalin or Hitler (and for that we may be truly grateful) but some of the ideas are worryingly similar. No, it does not surprise me - no country could have gone through what the various parts of the Soviet Union did for seventy years and emerge with sanity intact. Nor was there enough time to recover in Russia before Putin's rise to the top.

We have news of another trial of someone posting inconvenient truths on social media. This one is a little unusual.
Vladimir Luzgin, a 37-year-old man from the Siberian city of Perm, was prosecuted, convicted, and fined 200,000 rubles ($3,100) for posting an article on social media containing the well-known historical fact that the Soviet Union in collaboration with Nazi Germany invaded and partitioned Poland in 1939.
It is no longer the present that matters but the past as well - the factual truth cannot be told about either.

The Great Patriotic War remains the one sacred untouchable in Russia and the truth about Stalin's role in the high casualty rate, the Nazi-Soviet Pact or what happened in the reconquered Soviet territories and the conquered East European ones in 1944 - 45 cannot be told. Curiously, there is a kind of an ambivalence about attitudes. When there is talk about Soviet crimes, Russians rightly point out that they were not the only ones doing them - the other nationalities were involved as well. All were victims and executioners. But when it comes to the Great Patriotic War, only Russians appear to have fought and suffered. The ease with which Ukrainians, literally Russians' brothers and people who fought and suffered much in the war, could be described as fascists, carrying out fascist policies as laid down by the German invaders all those decades ago, did quite genuinely shocked me. I thought the Russian people will not accept Ukrainians as the enemy. Many did not but far too many did.

A fascinating article by Ksenia Polouektova-Krimer on Open Democracy describes the constant frenzy about the Great Patriotic War and how it is whipped up by the government for its own purposes.


  1. and ... The Nazis and Soviets collaborated in the destruction of much of civilization in Central and Eastern Europe, not as collateral damage, but as deliberate erasure of all possible opposition, or even inconvenience. See, Timothy Snyder's "Bloodlands" for a precise description of the bureaucratic mechanisms set in motion to accomplish this end, and a careful assessment of how well the job was done. This history should be remembered forever. Knowledge of how we got sick and what it did to us motivates conservation of health.

    1. Restoration of health, first.

    2. Well, if your illness is caused in part by a Bad Habit, like smoking or eating Mars Bars or drinking whisky, perhaps a little truth, leading you to drop the habit, might make recovery - if possible at all - easier? Just thinking.