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World Association of International Studies

Post on Historical Revisionism
Created by John Eipper on 07/18/19 4:27 AM

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on Historical Revisionism (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 07/18/19 4:27 am)

In his detailed post Francisco Rodríguez Jiménez (15 July) reported on the Spanish Association of Contemporary History's claim that the Supreme Court cannot determine the "historical truth."

Outstanding; I subscribe to this view.

However the AHC probably lives in a dream world. Almost all over Europe the judicial powers determine the "historical truth," and even jail those who do not conform their research and books to the "politically correct" official history of the winners.

Russian President Medvedev in June 2008 during a meeting Russia-EU at Khansky-Massisk stated: "Revisionism is not permissible."

On the contrary, progress and the real truth in historical knowledge comes only though continuous research and revisionism, as any newly discovered document may completely change the understanding of a fact.

There is an interesting article, 4 July 2018, by Murray N. Rothbard of the Mises Institute: "The Case for Revisionism (and Against a priori History)."

JE comments: There is revisionism and there is Revisionism.  The capital-R latter version tends to be used in the pejorative sense, particularly as shorthand for Holocaust denial.  There is also a strong association between Revisionism and conspiracy theory, such as Roosevelt "allowing" Pearl Harbor or 9/11 as a CIA job.

Eugenio, does revisionismo have the same negative connotations in Italy? 

But what is historical scholarship other than an ongoing process of revision?

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  • Historical Revisionism...and a Medvedev Quote (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 07/20/19 4:05 AM)

    I feel obliged to briefly comment on Eugenio Battaglia's post of 18 July.

    The Russia-EU summit of June 2008 took place in the town called Khanty-Mansiysk, a freshly refurbished settlement in Western Siberia with an extreme climate. Temperatures jump from -50°C to +35°C. Usually, it is rather cold there all the year round. I do not know why it was decided to have a high-level meeting in such a place, but at the end of June 2008 European mandarins like José Manuel Barroso and Javier Solana gathered there to discuss business with the new president of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev.

    As a matter of fact, Medvedev never stated that "Revisionism is not permissible." His speech was rather positive and constructive, but he also mentioned that "We consider the soft line taken towards attempts to make heroes of Nazi collaborators and revise pages in Europe's twentieth-century history unacceptable. We discussed this and met with full understanding on these issues."

    Speaking at the joint press conference following the summit, Barroso said: "So, as President Medvedev quite rightly pointed out, our meeting was very constructive. In a friendly, open atmosphere, we discussed the most sensitive issues, including the desire of some to rewrite history, including the history of Nazism in Europe. Let me say clearly: the EU is opposed to totalitarianism in any form. Thus the position of the European Union, of countries that are members of the European Union, is this: we oppose totalitarianism in all its forms, including Soviet totalitarianism. We are not directing these remarks at Russia. We call for democracy, and we recognize the contribution made by Russia, at that time--by the Soviet Union, in the fight against Nazism. And we very much appreciate this contribution."

    Concerning the Spanish Supreme Court, any Supreme Court, it has never been its remit to determine a "historical truth." A Supreme Court is the final court of appeal for civil and criminal cases. According to the Registry of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, for example, it hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population. I generally doubt that any authority can "determine the historical truth." (As the epigraph to my new book, I use the words of Sir Paul Preston from one of his WAIS posts: There is no such thing as the final judgement of history.)

    JE comments:  Enough time has gone by to form a judgment on Medvedev's legacy.  Boris, can you give us a sense of how his presidency is remembered among the Russian people?  Is he considered a milquetoast placeholder for Putin, or is there nostalgia for that brief period when Putin was not the Supreme Leader?

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    • Dmitry Medvedev, Corruption, and Russian Public Opinion (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 07/21/19 3:27 PM)
      As usual, JE asked a very good question, "Is [Dmitry Medvedev, Russian Prime Minister and former President] considered a milquetoast placeholder for Putin, or is there nostalgia for that brief period when Putin was not the Supreme Leader?"

      I believe Cameron Sawyer would be the right person to answer, but to the best of my knowledge some percentage of the Russian population and even a few representatives of the elite thought, when Putin appointed Medvedev to replace him for one term, that perhaps the new man could do something. Not too many people thought so, but still.

      I remember there were a lot of discussions in the international media whether Medvedev was a temporary replacement and, as John has put it, a milquetoast placeholder for Putin or a statesman in his own right, and I even took part in a rather long Al-Jazeera program at the end of August 2010 entitled "A difficult summer for Putin" (see WAIS post of 9 September 2010) with Riz Khan and the Russian-American journalist Maria Lipman. Masha and I, we both predicted that Putin would re-take the presidency in the next election cycle, which indeed happened.

      It seems that since Putin returned to the Kremlin, Medvedev, still a member of the tight circle of trusted personalities around the president (to my mind, there are only two really close to Putin--Victor Zolotov, his longtime personal bodyguard, and Medvedev), as a public figure Medvedev almost disappeared. The situation dramatically worsened with the public screening of the documentary on YouTube known in English as "He is not Dimon to you!"


      It was by Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation in March 2017. "Dimon" is a colloquial form of the name Dmitry.

      According to the authors, Medvedev embezzled something like $1.2 billion US dollars (that is, it is claimed he has them in funds and assets) and owns villas, various real estate and other luxury properties in different parts of the world including Italy and secret bank accounts in overseas safe havens. Wikipedia notes that an April 2017 poll found that 45% of surveyed Russians support the resignation of Medvedev while 33% of respondents were against. Newsweek reported that "An opinion poll by the Moscow-based Levada Center indicated that 67 percent held Putin personally responsible for high-level corruption."

      I do not think Medvedev really "embezzled" anything. Like officially the second person after the tsar and a satellite or a courtier very "close to the body" of the ruler, as they say in Russia, Medvedev believes that some part of the kingdom belongs to him thanks to his position together with some exclusive rights. It is like if a US president wants a mistress, he has a mistress, if he wants a tower in New York, he has a tower. If a sheikh wants ten wives, he has them, and if he wants ten palaces, he has them too. So what's wrong if a Russian premier has it all? In Tuscany, Dubai and in the Crimea--towers, palaces, yachts and vineyards. This is the mentality of the Russian elite formed in the past 19 years.

      JE comments:  Boris Volodarsky's last point is chilling.  If l'Etat c'est moi, is there really such a thing as stealing?

      Click below for Boris's 2010 WAIS post, with links to his appearance on Al-Jazeera:



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