Staunton, September 7 – Falsified history, if left unchallenged and uncorrected, represents “a delayed action bomb” that can destroy those who promote and believe in it because no one can learn anything of use from history unless one recognizes the errors of the past in order to avoid them in the future, Aleksey Kiva says
When Russian leaders say that “one must not rewrite history,” the Moscow historian says in an essay in “Nezavisimaya gazeta” today, one is compelled to ask “which history” should not be rewritten, “the true one or the false one?” Without a ture one, no one can avoid repeating “one and the same mistakes” or foresee the future (ng.ru/ideas/2016-09-07/5_lessons.html).
To make his point, Kiva points to the enormous price the Soviet Union paid in blood for Stalin’s unwarranted confidence that he could believe Hitler and make a deal with him. That experience offers three lessons that many who continue to deify the Soviet clearly have not learned.
First, the run-up to World War II in Europe shows that “one must not permit a situation to arise in which one individual decides the fate of the country,” a condition that was true under Stalin and that appears to be returning under Putin who, Russians are told, “decides all our main issues.”
Second, the historian says, again a lesson from the 1930s and early 1940s, “a great country must always have allies.” The USSR didn’t have any in 1941, and Russia, all the claims of the Kremlin to the contrary, doesn’t have any now. “This speaks about the weakness of [Russian] diplomacy.”
And third, he notes, Stalin failed to prepare adequately for World War II, and now, as war clouds appear to be gathering again, Putin is acting as if the future war will be like the last one, repeating the error that cost the Soviet people so much in 1941-1945 when the Soviet dictator made a similar assumption.
Moreover, Kiva says, “one should not forget tht the USSR collapsed not because it was militarily weak but because it spent too many resources on militarization and foreign policy adventures at the cost of social-economic development.” And then he asks rhetorically, isn’t the Russian government now doing exactly the same thing?
It is making other errors as well, he suggests, because of its failure to learn other important lessons. Among the most important of these unlearned lessons are three: First of all, “practice shows” that using mass mobilization to achieve some goals invariably means that other goals are not met.
Second, the historian points out, the idea that a dictatorship is justified and useful fails to recognize the ways in which such a concentration of power invariably means that its errors continue until the point of disaster rather than being corrected by the give and take of more open politics.
And third, Kiva concludes, many in Russia today fail to recognize that the use of force against some individuals in society has a tendency under conditions of a dictatorship to grow into terror, something that the Soviet experience proved but that many Russians today don’t want to learn.