Streetwise Professor

July 14, 2009

Confession Time?

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:58 pm

This article from the Guardian resonates with me, given some of the discussions zinging back and forth in the comment section:

A group of British academics including the historian Orlando Figes and the poet and translator Robert Chandler have spoken out after authorities in  Russia  closed down a website dealing with the country’s controversial Soviet past.

. . . .

Much of Soviet history is now taboo. Particularly sensitive for the Kremlin is the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, under which Hitler and Stalin agreed to carve up Europe, with Moscow annexing the Baltics and two-thirds of  Poland. The Kremlin also refuses to acknowledge Ukrainian claims that the Stalin-engineered famine of 1932-33 amounted to a genocide.

This month Russia’s delegation walked out of the Organisation for the Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) after it passed a resolution likening Stalinism with Nazism. The resolution called for 23 August, the day of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, to be a day of remembrance for victims of both Stalin and Hitler.

Russia accused the OSCE of trying to “distort history with political goals”. [Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!]

This quote brought a wry smile to my face:

Today Figes said in an email the Kremlin had become “very active on the  internet” on history, claiming that it even hired bloggers to pose as members of the public, their task being to disseminate a Kremlin-approved version of the past and to “rubbish historians like myself”.

Anybody have anything to tell me?  LOL.

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  1. Figes book on the Revolution was pretty good, but since then he has gone downhill into oblivion. He was whining that his Russian publishers were not publishing his “Whisperers” book in Russia allegedly due to government pressure, when in fact there was no point to doing so since plenty of books like that exist already (saturated market) and his one would have had to been translated from English into Russian, a pointless exercise since the original was in Russian. I wouldn’t put much stock into his paranoid fantasies.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 14, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

  2. That view of his was posted at RFE/RL, which has done likewise with some truly absurd commentary on other former Communist bloc issues.

    As for muting certain instances of the past, the OSCE is the one muting the role of Munich.

    BTW, I recall seeing a poll in Ukraine which indicated the majority of Ukrainian citizens don’t view the 1930s famine as a caluclated attempt at genocide against the Ukrainian people.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — July 14, 2009 @ 11:37 pm

  3. A rhetorical digression to what SO touched on:

    Imagine the spin of a Russian historian complaining how his/her book on an American historical subject wasn’t getting a fair shake in the US.

    The answer might be along the lines of the US having plenty of adept historians on the involved topic.

    “Censorship” (real and otherwise) often gets explained by the “market forces” factor. With Russia, this motive is often put aside. American mass media/cinema/academia can often spin in a way deemed as acknowledging what the public wants. On the other hand, some expect Russia to operate differently. Niall Ferguson like documentaries should be on Russian TV unlike mainstream Russian views getting that option on PBS.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — July 15, 2009 @ 1:57 am

  4. “Anybody have anything to tell me? LOL.”

    Sure! Your quoting Figes like this, while lacking replies to the points I’ve made that stand up to more than a couple of minutes of analysis, is an open confession that all you’ve really got on this subject is ad hominems.


    Comment by rkka — July 15, 2009 @ 5:42 am

  5. Today Figes said in an email the Kremlin had become “very active on the internet” on history, claiming that it even hired bloggers to pose as members of the public, their task being to disseminate a Kremlin-approved version of the past and to “rubbish historians like myself”.

    Wearing the same wry smile, I’m laughing too, it’s so obvious for anyone paying attention to the messenger’s playbook “version”.

    Comment by penny — July 15, 2009 @ 8:11 am

  6. rkka–

    Very impressed with yourself. You may think that your points withstand my criticism. I disagree. I think some of your points are incredibly lame, not to mention idiosyncratic, e.g., your suggestion that M-R had no impact on Hitler’s decision to invade Poland, or the timing thereof. You disagree with my assessment. There you go. Not unusual in historical debates.

    Re quoting Figes . . . it is what it is. And it wouldn’t be ad hominem. It would be appeal to authority. Get your logical fallacies straight. LOL. And it’s not even that. He’s a credible guy, and a well-respected historian. Perhaps he’s talking out his butt, but given the reputational cost of doing so, I would place a probability greater than zero on his assertion being correct, and that he could back it up. Why don’t you ask him?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 15, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

  7. I supported my points from Adolpf himself.

    You support your with….

    Comment by rkka — July 15, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

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