“Why am I not guilty of anything, but I should be responsible?!” asks the majority of citizens of the Russian Federation. Here is how Oleksiy Khivrich, our subscriber, Ukrainian human rights activist answered this question.
With collective responsibility, the issue is not simple.
Karl Jaspes, the German writer, philosopher and publicist after the Second World War wrote the book The Question of Guilt, in which he depicts different types of society’s guilt for the actions and situation in its country.
He highlights criminal guilt (when people who are under occupation or vice versa, who are part of a totalitarian state, commit direct criminal acts – they kill, rob, and so on), political guilt (“each person is responsible together with others for how he is ruled”), moral guilt (“crime is still a crime, even if committed by order”) and metaphysical guilt (“if I do nothing to prevent evil, I am also guilty”).
We can substitute the words of the Soviet prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials under such a philosophical construction, as a legal justification for the collective responsibility of all Russians, “All Germans are to blame for the crimes of Germany on a par with the leadership of the country. Since it was they who elected and did not stop their authorities when it committed crimes against humanity.
Anyone who does not resist evil is guilty.
Jaspes emphasizes in his book that not all guilt should be punished. But every guilt should be acknowledged. Otherwise, everything can happen again, he wrote for the Germans.
As for the relationship of guilt and responsibility, here’s how Mark Manson explains it in The Subtle Art of Giving a Fuck:
“There are problems in which we are not to blame, but we are responsible for them. Let’s say you woke up one morning and found a newborn baby at the doorstep of your apartment. It’s not your fault: you didn’t drop the baby. But there is responsibility. We should urgently decide what to do. And whether you choose to keep the baby, get rid of it, leave it on the doorstep, or feed it to the pit bull, your choice will bring problems, and you exactly will be responsible for these problems.
This is life. Here is how you can distinguish between these concepts.
Guilt has to do with the past, and responsibility has to do with the present.
Guilt comes from the choices already made, and responsibility comes from the choices you make now, every day, every minute.”
So every time you are tempted to publicly shout, “Why should I bear any responsibility for the war, if I am not to blame for anything ?! Let others carry!!!” – remember the picture drawn by Manson.
On February 24, 2022, we all opened the door in the morning and found a baby lying on the threshold.
And it was a murdered Ukrainian baby. The soldier who killed him acted on behalf of the state, that is, “simply followed the order,” which we know was given by whom to him.
There is no your fault in the death of a child, but the murdered child is here.
Most likely, you will not feed the baby corpse to a pit bull, but YOU will be responsible for your behavior from now on. Even if you just recoiled and stepped back into the apartment, closing the door of internal emigration. Or, courageously stepping over the corpse, you ran off on your usual business, telling yourself that you were powerless to change anything, and the police would not investigate anything anyway.
The corpse of a Ukrainian child is on every Russian doorstep.
The guilt for the corpse lies with Putin and his team.
But the responsibility for everything that follows is on all Russians.