Thursday, October 04, 2012

Speaking Ill of the Dead

If anybody in Europe expressed the same kind of apology towards Nazi atrocities that Hobsbawm did towards Stalin's crimes against humanity he would probably be thrown in prison like David Irving. He certainly would not be a respected professor at a British university. Yet Stalinist apologists like Hobsbawm, Sarte, Zizek, and others both living and dead have suffered no negative consequences what so ever. I do not understand this continuing double standard which is militantly advanced on a daily basis by left wing academics.


The Ancient said...


If you mean J.P. Sartre, this is just wrong. His reputation has been in freefall since the late Seventies -- beginning with the rise of the "new philosophers" in France.

datatutashkhia said...

I don't see how this is a double standard; you have to really ignore all the context to claim it.

Are you saying that, say, Robespierre is an equivalent of, say, Torquemada: both executed a whole bunch of people and so there is no difference whatsoever, is that it? That's what you insist on.

J. Otto Pohl said...

Ancient: The Canadian philosophy professor here still teaches a lot of Sarte. So I am guessing Sarte is still popular among some philosophers in Canada. I don't have any other data points, so I will trust you that he has lost popularity in France.

Data: No, I am saying that we should not be praising or justifying the violence of Robespierre. I am not an expert on the French Revolution, but I would be surprised if Robespierre had academic groupies the way Stalin has with people like Zizek and until recently Hobsbawm.

datatutashkhia said...

Zizek is not a Stalin groupie.

Historical phenomena, can (and should) be analyzed objectively, with moralistic denunciations - oh, ah, look: evil man, evil man - kept to the absolute minimum.

By the academics and public intellectuals, that is.

Moralistic denunciations certainly have their place somewhere; I dunno, in a church maybe? In politics? But not in history or philosophy with materialistic angle.

J. Otto Pohl said...

I am not a materialist and I fail to see why a dogmatic Marxist-Leninist (historical materialist) interpretation of history should be the norm. Moralistic denunciation are made all the time by historians. I have not seen any recent scholarly works on Nazi Germany that did not thoroughly morally condemn the regime.

datatutashkhia said...

But maybe they characterize it as racist and reactionary, and you get the impression that it's a condemnation, while in fact it's merely a description.

There is a period in stalinism described commonly as 'great terror'; does it not sound as condemnation?