Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Ugly Flip Side of Putin’s ‘Single Stream of Russian History’ – Everyone is Responsible So No One is Guilty

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 18 – Vladimir Putin has been promoting the idea of a single stream of Russian history, one in which he seeks to overcome past divisions that might spark new ones at present. His effort has been much criticized and even derided as absurd given that the Kremlin leader wants to reconcile the murdered and the murderer in all too many cases.

            But now a Russian commentator has highlighted yet another aspect of this Putinist idea: In a discussion today of the Bolshevik murder of the Imperial Family a century ago, Stanislav Minakov argues that “the murder lies on the consciousness and spirit of the entire people. Everyone is guilty in one or another degree.”

            And that of course means that if everyone is responsible no one is really guilty, an extrapolation of a technique politicians frequently use when they “take responsibility” to avoid having to identify those who really or to being held guilty themselves to the entire population (

                On the one hand, of course, this is simply another example of Putin’s promotion of a post-truth world in which nothing is true or false but only an opinion; but on the other, it represents a further degradation of the understanding not only of what is true but who is responsible.

The Bolsheviks killed the tsar, his family, and millions of others. Lenin’s party is to blame for this crime and many others, not the Russian people or anyone else. The same thing holds in the case of the crimes Putin has committed, and to avoid that conclusion is perhaps the real reason this latest effort to deflect responsibility on to others has been undertaken.

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