4 Answers

  1. This is a rather complex, voluminous and conceptually productive issue for modern (XX-XXI centuries) political philosophy and a very problematic one for the modern political practice of international conflicts precisely because it has not been integrated into the political programs and public discussions of many countries.

    The socio-political discussion on this topic was opened by Karl Jaspers in his work “The Problem of German Guilt” (Die Schuldfrage. Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Frage, 1946), when the question of whether the nation as a whole should feel guilty for the crimes committed by the Nazis was acute for post-war Germany. Jaspers was an opponent of the concept of “collective guilt”, he differentiated four types of guilt (criminal, political, moral and metaphysical), but at the same time saw recognition and awareness of one's guilt at the individual level as the main condition for the spiritual and moral revival of the nation as a whole. For him, only individual guilt and collective responsibility are possible, but without a deep inner experience of guilt (as a certain significant category of conscience) by each member of society, it is impossible to take responsibility and move to a fundamentally different level of moral consciousness.

    Hannah Arendt develops the ideas of Jaspers and builds her concept in a polemic with him. It speaks of the need to distinguish between guilt and responsibility for crimes committed. Guilt presupposes a person's personal complicity in what they have done. Responsibility implies a moral awareness of the gravity of a crime committed not by me personally, and(but) belonging to the collective whole in the context of which such a crime became possible. The ability to take responsibility largely determined for her the moral character of a contemporary German (or any other person whose country or community committed serious crimes). In her work Organized Guilt (from The Hidden Tradition, 1976), she reveals the nature of the Nazi paradox, which forces us to rethink the concepts of guilt and responsibility. “What is to be done,” she asks, “in the face of a people in which the line separating criminals from normal people and guilty from innocent people has been so effectively erased that tomorrow no one in Germany will know whether they are dealing with a secret hero or a former mass murderer” (Arendt H. Hidden Tradition, Moscow: 2008, p. 45). If we cannot separate the guilty from the innocent, then the category of guilt itself needs additional conceptualization. As a way out, Arendt offers a distinction between guilt and responsibility: “Those responsible in the broad sense, in the narrow sense they [Germans] are mostly not to blame. The first accomplices and best collaborators of the Nazis, they truly did not know what they were doing or who they were dealing with” (Ibid., p.46). However, the fact that ordinary Germans did not understand what they were doing, and did not have the courage to object to the system, does not relieve them of the responsibility that it sees as a universally binding imperative.: we must have the courage to take responsibility for the crimes we have committed to the extent that we all belong to the same human community.: “…Since then, the peoples have become more and more familiar with each other, more and more learned about the ability of man to evil, ” she writes about the history of mankind. “As a result, they are increasingly repelled by the idea of human community, and they are increasingly susceptible to racial doctrines that fundamentally deny the possibility of such a community of people. They feel instinctively that the idea of a single humanity, whether religious or humanistic, also contains an obligation of shared responsibility that they do not wish to assume. After all, the politically important consequence of the idea of a single humanity, cleansed of all sentimentality, is that in one way or another we will have to take responsibility for all the crimes committed by people, and the peoples will have to take responsibility for all the atrocities committed by peoples. The feeling of shame for being a human being is just an individual and non-political expression of this point of view” (Ibid., pp. 54-55). In this sense, guilt and shame for her are individual expressions of remorse or confusion, and the ability to take responsibility is a political act of mature moral consciousness.

    In many ways, the work of denazification and Trauerarbeit that was carried out in post-war Germany was aimed at developing such a moral collective national (self)awareness of responsibility, which would prevent the possibility of new crimes.

    In the 2000s, this line of reasoning was continued by Sergey Averintsev in his article “Overcoming Totalitarianism as a problem: an Attempt at orientation “(2001). He divides cultures into ” cultures of shame “and” cultures of conscience”: the former are afraid to admit crimes committed in the past and take responsibility for them. The latter have enough courage and moral awareness to do it. On this topic, you can also read the work of modern German cultural historian Aleida Assman, where she classifies various types of collective reactions to traumatic and catastrophic events of the past (in Russian translation: “The long Shadow of the past: Memorial culture and Historical Politics. Moscow: New Literary Review, 2014).

    This issue is acute today, for example, in relations between Turkey and Armenia, which accuses Turkey of the 1915 genocide and the lack of a program of political recognition and repentance. This problem also affects Turkey's international moral standing. For example, the German Government's recognition of the 1915 genocide provoked an approving reaction from Armenians and created tension in relations between Turkey and Germany. It also raises the question of the justification of Turkey's membership in the European Union, given the unrecognized crimes of the past – that is, the process of political overcoming of the past. Ueberwindung), which was experienced by post-war Europe. In Russia, the question of admission of guilt and/or responsibility for the mass shootings of Polish officers committed by the NKVD in Katyn in 1940 is acute and unmanifested (or rather, it is not officially raised and therefore continues to determine the tension in Russian-Polish relations). Accordingly, before we can problematize the distinction between collective guilt and responsibility at the level of national consciousness, we must recognize certain historical facts as accomplished and having ethical and political significance for the moral self-identification of the nation. But precisely because many crimes of the past continue to be implicitly perceived in terms of “guilt” or “loss of face” rather than “responsibility”, they are not recognized as such.

    If public political reflection on the traumatic and repressive past were developed in Russia, the question of political recognition of the crimes of Stalinism and the Soviet regime against other peoples and ethnic groups would arise. Today, however, this issue is hushed up at the official state level and with the exception of some special portals (“Memorial”, “History Lessons”) is not discussed openly. The work of overcoming the past is replaced rather by the jingoistic concept of national history as a history of greatness, heroism and victories, which aims to preserve the “unity of the nation”, and not to recognize its mistakes.

    In modern American and European thought, discussions on guilt, responsibility, and political forgiveness continue (or are reactualized in connection with new global crimes). New concepts are emerging such as politics of reconciliation (the policy of reconciliation, restoration of peace) and transitional justice (the creation of legal and human rights institutions for the restoration of social and political justice, which work in the context of the difficult transition of countries from dictatorial and authoritarian regimes to a more democratic structure of society).

  2. At the moment, several researchers are engaged in the phenomenon of historical memory and the development of a healthy attitude to the cultural past.
    This is comparable to a person's inner feelings about their personal past. Of course, in the world of victorious capitalism, the connection with the roots is lost, the concept of Homeland is blurred when it is possible to travel freely and change their place of residence, but people still find themselves involved in the processes of the space in which they are located. We cannot deny that the history of our people has shaped much of our mentality and continues to shape it to this day, but we can learn to “move on” as we should after a personal loss. We have a series of events behind us, it can be very tragic or, on the contrary, heroic, and we must remember this and take this into account when building relationships with other participants in these events, but the only thing that everyone can do to cover this responsibility is to make every effort to bring good to their land in the present.

  3. There is a well-established practice and even a tradition according to which there is a bundle, a Misdemeanor-a sense of guilt – atonement or remorse.
    It is recognized that guilt is normal and remorse or retribution through punishment eases the burden of guilt.
    But there is a legal offense and a trial. And there is a moral offense and a sense of guilt.
    Legally, Germany was punished under the reparations agreements.
    Moral punishment, however, is a purely voluntary concept. And remorse, too.
    They ease the collective conscience.
    And it is impossible to make people pay for this sense of guilt. As some offended segments would like for political reasons.

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