Sorry, Political Apology Doesn’t Work Like Personal Apology.

http://ostrovletania.blogspot.com/2010/04/sorry-political-apology-doesn-work-like.html

In life it’s often necessary to apologize because every individual commits wrongs. Sometimes, it’s accidental, neglectful, or mean-spirited, but in any case, we wouldn’t be human without conscience, and conscience requires that we owe up to our faults and apologize to family members, friends, co-workers, or anyone we may have wronged.
But, apology in the political sphere is another thing. I don’t mean individual politicians apologizing for their misdeeds, which is perfectly understandable and necessary. What I mean is politicians or so-called leaders apologizing for the entire nation, people, culture, heritage, or etc.
This isn’t to say that a nation-at-large or a certain community can’t go bat-crazy and commit acts of evil. There have been too many instances of such throughout history.
The problem arises when we fall into the habit of thinking collectively or eternal-istically when it comes to the goodness or evil of a people. Yet another problem is an entire people can never be wholly innocent nor guilty. Were all Japanese to blame for what happened in WWII? What about people who opposed the regime? What about people thought they were on the right side of history and that their nation was doing good(based on available news and info)? What about newborn babies? And what about later generations? How do they share in the guilt of what their forbears may have done? Is a son guilty of a murder committed by his father? And what gives any politician or leader the right to speak for the entire nation, people, or community?
Though all nations have a moral and intellectual obligation to remember and know their histories, no nation can be said to be forever guilty or innocent. The meaning of apology breaks down when it grows more collective. If you cheat, lie, steal, rape, or kill, YOU need to apologize for your crime. Why should the blame apply to your relatives or your friends? Why should they share your guilt?
Suppose one argues that every individual is the social product of people who may have influenced him; thus, his parents are guilty for bad upbringing or his friends are guilty for corrosive peer pressure. But, maybe not. Children of nice parents also turn out bad. If it’s meaningless to blame the entire family or friends for the wrongdoer’s misdeeds or crimes, does it make sense to blame the whole village or town, the entire city, let alone the nation? Why not just blame all of mankind? If all Germans–past and future–are guilty for the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis in the 1940s, then why not blame all of humanity? After all, Nazis were humans. Since humans did it, all humans should be blamed, including the Jews.
There’s no doubt that many Germans took part in the crimes of Nazism in the 30s and40s, but h the sad fact of masses mindlessly following the great leader–good or bad–has been commonplace throughout human history. At any rate, it’s something that happened at a certain time and place. All that future Germans should do is to remember their history honestly. The idea of an eternally guilty Germans is ridiculous.
People also need to know that political or social evil has generally been a matter of which side has more power, an ever-shifting reality. There are no permanent winners or losers in history. Any well-meaning or morally pompous group or nation that fills itself with collective guilt–and dumps it onto future generations–over what they or their ancestors may have done in the political or macro-social sphere is only asking for trouble. Romans committed violence against the Germanic barbarians, but it wasn’t long before the Germanic barbarians had the upperhand.
What good would collective moral guilt among Romans have achieved when Germanic barbarians were sacking Rome, raping and killing left and right? Ex-victims were the then-victors as Rome fell and burned.
Many people think Japan should apologize to China for WWII, but China is now a fast rising power while Japan is a fading one–without much in the way of political independence. China today isn’t what it was in the 1930s or 1940s. Japan has also greatly changed. This isn’t to say that Japanese should not take an honest look at Japanese war-mongering in WWII. But, if Japanese go for a collective POLITICAL APOLOGY, it will disadvantage all future generations of Japanese vis-a-vis the Chinese. True, many Japanese took part in the brutal conquest of China in WWII, but that was then and this is now and the future is the future. Why should all future generations of Chinese feel morally superior to all future generations of Japanese due to what happened during a decade of the 20th century? I can understand individual Japanese soldiers who served in WWII apologizing to Chinese victims. But, why should all future generations of Japanese be burdened with this? It makes no sense, and worst of all, it is politically fatal and suicidal for Japanese political and national interests in the future. Whenever tensions arise between Japan and China in the future, Chinese can point to ETERNAL Japanese evil admitted by collective/political apology made by the representatives of the Japanese people.

I don’t endorse the Japanese Far-Right which denies the war-time atrocities or tries to justify Japanese brutality as a noble crusade to save Asia from Western Imperialism, which is a lot of crock. The Japanese Far-Right is indeed made up of moral equivalents of Holocaust Deniers or Jews who suppress Jewish role in communism. But, most Japanese today are not members of the Far-Right. They are not evil people. Why must they be burdened with eternal national guilt for terrible events during a part of the 20th century? If so, I suppose Mongols should forever apologize for the exploits of Genghis Khan. I suppose Greeks should still be apologizing to Hindus for Alexander the Great’s war-mongering.

Take a look at South Africa in the present day. Black thugs now rule the country and commit horrible crimes. They are poised to pull off what Mugabe did in Zimbabwe. Black savages roam about looking for white men to butcher and white women to rape(and butcher).
But, the world seems to ignore all this because they’ve morally eternalized the memory of Apartheid. One can make an argument that Apartheid was wrong, but that was a time when whites had power over blacks. That is no longer the reality of South Africa.
Again, nothing is eternal in politics. There are no permanent winners or losers, no permanent conquerors or permanently vanquished. At one time, Asiatic peoples swept through Russia and oppressed white Russians. Later, Russian gained great power and conquered all of Asian Siberia. At one time Greeks conquered what is modern-day Turkey. But, Ottomans later conquered and ruled over the Greeks. Muslims once ruled over Jews in the Holy Land; today, Jews brutally rule over the Muslims and Arab Christians. Whites once ruled over blacks all over Africa. Most whites left Africa in the 60s and 70s, though a large number remained in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Zimbabwe eventually turned to black rule, and most whites were driven out. And whites no longer hold political and military power in South Africa. Today, whites live under black oppression.
Consider that at one time, Muslims–the Moghuls–ruled over Hindu India. There was a Hindu resurgence under British rule, and India came to be mostly Hindu-dominated.
For many centuries, Tutsis ruled over Hutus in what are now Rwanda and Burundi. But, with the arrival of Europeans, Hutus gained power over the Tutsis. In the 90s, the Hutus, who had long been the victim of Tutsis, carried out massive genocide against the Tutsis. And, then the Tutsi army conquered Rwanda and now it is again ruled by a Tutsi elite. So tell me, which side owes which side an eternal poltical apology? Should Tutsis politically and collectively apologize for all eternity for having oppressed Hutus in the past? Or should Hutus apologize eternally to the Tutsis for the horrible genocide of the 90s?
This is why political apologies are meaningless. An individual apologizes for a specific act he committed at a fixed moment in time. If you steal, you apologize for the theft and for nothing else. And no one is guilty but you. This kind of apology is specific, clear-cut, rational, and makes sense. But, collective guilt or national apology–or political apology–makes little or no sense. (But, given the deterministic models that came to dominate social sciences since the 19th century, we believe less and less in free will and more and more in collective guilt and collective redemption. Morality is less individualist and more statist. Entire peoples are blamed, and only the all-powerful state, in the name of social good for all people, is seen as the solution.)
Just look at Germany since WWII. It’s as if all Germans forever should feel the burden of guilt. Worse, all of German history has been smeared and simplified as a long sick process culminating in the Holocaust. Consequentially, Germans are not only apologizing for the Holocaust but for all of Germany and all of Germanness. Indeed, being German has become a sinful.
Germans were right to take a hard honest look at their history. That is to be lauded. Japanese, in contrast, have generally been dishonest and neglectful about what happened in WWII. But, Germans have done more than take an honest look. They’ve done to themselves what Nazi Germans did to the Jews during the 1930s and 1940s. The Nazis came up with the notion of the ETERNAL JEW, always evil, always venal, always up-to-no-good no matter the place or time.
Now, we have the ETERNAL GERMAN as a consequence of POLITICAL GUILT or NATIONAL APOLOGY on the part of Germans. Germans have become like the character in THE SHINING–film by Stanley Kubrick. The character of Jack Torrance is forever condemned to live the life of a murderer in one incarnation after another. He is forever guilty. He can never be free of this cycle of evil. He is always the murderer of his wife and children. This is how Germans have internalized the guilt of WWII.
As we look at what’s happening in South Africa, we need to ask the same question. Does it make sense to blame forever and ever the whites of that country? They no longer have the power. They are being raped and murdered. Also, can we say that whites were truly evil while blacks were truly noble in the past? Or, was it more the case that whites had more power than blacks? Since whites had more power, they used it to their advantage over blacks. But now that black have more power, they are using it against whites. Politics has been and always will be mostly about power.
This isn’t to say there’s no morality in politics. Indeed, there is plenty. Civilized peoples practice a more moralistic form of politics. They don’t believe might is right or that people with power should exploit the weak.
But, there seems to be a lot of dumb liberals who go beyond political morality and have embraced a kind of spiritual eternalistic politics where certain peoples are eternally guilty or wicked while others are eternally noble and wonderful. Because of Western domination starting from the 16th century, many white liberals think that white domination is a given, a constant, a permanent reality. They see whites as forever powerful and forever ruling over everyone else. Given this mindset, they believe whites need to feel all the burden of morality, guilt, and conscience for all eternity. These idiots obviously have a very limited understanding of history. And for all their professed interest in non-Western cultures, they know next to nothing about all the brutality and wickedness that have existed in the non-Western world. The West was never worse. It only grew more powerful, thus gaining greater leverage over other peoples. ‘White evil’ was less moral and spiritual than political and materialistic. If other peoples had gained greater power, they would have done the same thing–build larger empires.
Anyway, white power is slipping, especially with the rise of Asia. Worse, the West is becoming inundated with waves upon waves of Third Worlders who have lots of babies. In Europe and America, blacks go around beating up whites. In the US, the so-called victim-Jews now constitute the most powerful and richest elite the world has ever seen.
Given the shifting nature of politics and power, does it make sense for whites to hold onto an ETERNAL GUILT or keep making POLITICAL APOLOGIES? No!
— A. F.
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