Is there such a thing as collective, national guilt?

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,128
San Antonio, Tx
#92
Now I know why America supports Quebec independence: they'll leapfrog Canada into 2nd largest country in the world.
I have some friends and acquaintances in Quebec who routinely tell me that they wish Quebec had gone over to the American side at the time of the US assault on the Plain of Abraham. I tell them to be careful what they wish for. On the other hand, I look to the State of Louisiana and how no one in the US cares that they use the “Code Napoleon” as the basis of their law.

I’ve never understood why so many Anglo-Canadians apparently resent their French speaking population which happens to be the singular attribute of their country that makes them interesting, exciting and, frankly, warm and welcoming.. The rest of Canada is mostly “America Light”, but Quebec is full-on fascinating.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,128
San Antonio, Tx
#93
I could not agree more. Look at Germany for example. That nation has accomplished a lot to be proud of, that should more than offset one particularly noxious episode in that nation's history. Germanic peoples established great empires, the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia. Established some of the first universities in the western world (Vienna, Heidelberg, and Leipzig), and were at the forefront of the Protestant Reformation. There is much to be proud of there. The Japanese also have a proud ancient warrior culture in the Samurai that they should be proud of, and were able in the 19th century to rapidly transform a feudal society into a modern industrial nation which ruled a vast empire. These are not achievements that should cause one to feel guilt.
Maybe, but I am also fairly certain that because it is so sadly recent in our collective memory, and the fact that the Holocaust was only a fairly small part of the total disaster of WW2 that covered the whole globe as part of the most shameful disaster to ever befall the world, the high cost ofWW2 will probably never be fully known or understood.
 

arkteia

Ad Honorem
Nov 2012
4,722
Seattle
#94
I am living in the permanent state of individual guilt for the collective. First I lived in the Soviet Union and was pretty ignorant about its history, but now I own guilt of the Soviet Union. And then I moved to the US and everything that happened before my move, I don't own, but everything after, very much so.

At the same time, I don't believe that in huge, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, countries, collective historic guilt can take roots. The reason Germany can feel historic guilt is because by the end of WWII, it was pretty homogenous, "cleansed" of the Jews, the Gypsies, and others, was "all for the Germans". Japan ethnically is rather homogenous, too. It is easy to feel guilt when you are not living in a multi-ethnic country.

But in countries like the US or post-Soviet states, there should be limits to collective guilt, otherwise this guilt may tear populations apart. Since so many groups within the countries were persecuted, exiled, marginalized, oppressed and killed. To keep the balance between feeling the sympathy and compassion (towards the minorities) while not inciting the wrath of these minorities...how can one achieve it?

So I am for individual guilt, and this is what history should teach, each and everyone has to feel national guilt personally, according to the measure of conscience he or she has. This is why we need good history teachers and should invest in them.

When USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979, I barely noticed it. Then coffins started coming back, and we were speaking about "our boys being killed". And then one of the "boys" who returned wrote a book in which he asked if anyone even knew how many Afghanis were killed in that war. His numbers were mind-blowing. This is when I felt dense for never asking myself, "how was it for those people?" This is my individual guilt.

Fast forward to the times we are not supposed to discuss, but people with understand. Suffice it to say that 16 years ago, in the US, I experienced horrible deja vu. And I also felt Cassandra-like, knowing how the whole escapade would end (because i already had lived through something similar in the Soviet Union in 1979), but being unable to explain it to anyone.

So this is how I perceive guilt. I am alone in it. But my only goal is to pass my individual feeling of guilt to my children. Collective? I don't know.
 

arkteia

Ad Honorem
Nov 2012
4,722
Seattle
#95
Shots fired.

I also have a very very very serious question. I will admit that I am a novice when it comes to economics and politics. Ive got to seriously ask. A lot of the countries that are often referred to being better have relatively SMALL populations. Couldn't this have a major effect on the differences we see? ( I would like to point out that the difference doesn't seem all that major to me, but maybe I am wrong.. The USA may be 13 but is 20 points really THAT bad considering population differences?) The USA has 320 million more people than Denmark does. Surely that goes along way in terms of economy, health care, etc. Im not looking for snark debates (which hasn't happened yet). Im just a man looking to learn.

(I would like to point out that, obviously, after a few months of self exploration and learning politics my leaning tends to be more right-of-center. If I had to guess it'd be 65-35? Maybe 60-40? Could be even less, a lot of those tests I can't trust. haha)
Bolded by me. My feeling is, it is somewhat difficult to steal and bribe among 5 million people, and surprisingly easy among 320 million of them. In Iceland, with its 340,000 inabitants, it must be even harder to steal without noticing, so in my view, Iceland must be paradise.
 

Similar History Discussions