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Post Can Collective Guilt Lead to Reactionary Backlash?
Created by John Eipper on 04/21/19 8:08 AM

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Can Collective Guilt Lead to Reactionary Backlash? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 04/21/19 8:08 am)

I feel obliged to comment on the April 20th response of Ángel Viñas and John E's observations on my post about historical grievances.

John asked, "what does it cost a people to look inward on their past and apologize for their transgressions?" He added, "the Germans famously did this, and now enjoy both prosperity and respect."

I believe the question is not whether it is morally or politically correct to apologize or to show repentance for past transgressions, but what is the real culpability of a people for the transgressions, crimes or brutalities their ancestors committed in the distant past? Why should they be ashamed or blamed for actions that were not under their control?

If that were the case, requesting apologies from everybody to everybody--which perhaps would be historically necessary--would be an endless process. To request apologies for ancient crimes reminds me of the primitive tribal laws, Venganzas de Sangre--blood feuds, a cycle of retaliative violence--that instead of forgiving past transgressions (a more Christian principle) aimed rather for revenge or in modern terms political or economic payoffs.

The German example cited by John is an excellent example of generational immediacy, of showing repentance by almost the same generation, or at least near descendants, that committed the crimes. The fact is that the younger German generations are uncomfortable about apologizing for Nazi brutality during WWII. In fact, one of the possible causes of the rise of the radical right movement in Germany might be the result of collective exhaustion of still being portrayed as the historical villains.

Regarding Ángel Viñas's disagreement about the "Ley de Memoria Historica" passed by the Spanish Parliament in 2007, I do not understand what he really disagrees with. My point was not whether victims of the civil war and Franquismo should remain anonymous, but that this law is used to exploit victimism as a demagogic political instrument of the left.

To be clear I am not a Franquista. I never sympathized with the repressive dictatorial regime, and I am not against a law supposedly aimed for victims' justice, or to honor the victims of the regime. Rather I am against using victims as a leftist political instrument. It is also a great risk to open up old resentments for political purposes, as presently might be happening in Spain.

JE comments: José Ignacio, Venezuela's turn is in the not-too-distant future. When the Maduro regime finally passes into history, how will the nation heal? There are three paths: 1) prosecution and retribution, 2) "indulto" or forgiveness and an attempt to erase the slate, or 3) a "truth and reconciliation" approach that seeks to uncover the crimes without punishment or vengeance. Which do you think Venezuela will choose?


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