esmaspäev, detsember 31, 2007

collective guilt: collective future

I am in the US for the holidays and that means late night, alcohol-fueled debates about World War II and slavery. In an odd moment of compassion for our krautrock-loving German friends, I came to understand what a sad lot in life it is to be German and live with collective guilt for something you had no role in nor chose in utero to be associated with.

I came to think that perhaps many of us suffer from collective guilt. Russians, Germans, even Canadians (Bryan Adams? What were you thinking?) For my part, I realized that as an Italian I carry the collective guilt of the Roman Empire on my shoulders. It was us who killed Spartacus. We bear collective guilt for the death of the Thracian gladiator and his Hollywood good looks. As my Roman ancestors would say, mea culpa.

Now, let's start 2008 with less of an eye on the rear-view mirror, and more of an obsession about the future and what goodies it can bring. In Estland I am tired of old, cynical, funky politics. I want new blood, new ideas, and new accomplishments. There are so many things that could be better, fitter, happier, more productive. Why not greet them?

24 kommentaari:

Jens-Olaf ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Just a few days back in the States and a post like this ;-)

Right, looking at my daughters, who are German, I will and won't tell them they had to feel responsible for the mess other Germans made during WWII. Not in any way.

Yes understanding of German history, that's o.k. But with a Korean mother and there are many of the new generation like them, some things have changed.

John ütles ...

Before we contemplate Giustino's Alice-world in which people look forward to the future instead of looking ahead to the past, let's not forget that the last of the World War II war criminals are now pushing about 110 years of age -- this is the last chance to bring them to justice.

Giustino ütles ...

Before we contemplate Giustino's Alice-world in which people look forward to the future instead of looking ahead to the past, let's not forget that the last of the World War II war criminals are now pushing about 110 years of age -- this is the last chance to bring them to justice.

In Estonia the idea of justice is quite tempting, especially because there has been so little of it. The trial of Arnold Meri comes to mind.

Yet at the same time, with all the arguments about the past in Estonia, one cannot help but feel restrained by history that is to most people just that.

In the United States, Holocaust examination is almost a national pasttime. There is a whole shelf at the library dedicated to the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, et cetera. Yet there is not one book about Urho Kekkonen, let alone Konstantin Päts.

It is an interesting thing what we chose to familiarize ourselves with and what we wish not to know.

My hope is that younger politicians in Estland and elsewhere will really leave this more to historians and continue to build the state. The state needs its purifiers -- its Ilveses and Laars. But a state cannot run on this alone.

Ask yourself this: will the 2011 parliamentary elections be a new contest about Estonia's future, or will it simply be a three-way race between Savisaar, Laar, and Ansip's successor. In other words, will Estonia be stuck in 1992 ad nauseum?

nipi ütles ...

Sad, but the coming up with new party requires a lot of funding. Investors (O.Taal etc) tried with ResPublika, but quickly failed so it's BezRublika now. Nobody will risk the second attempt so soon.
But, for 2011 there is still time enough. Still remaining sceptic...

Giustino ütles ...

You know, Nipi, Savisaar doesn't need to lead the Center Party list in every election. Other political parties would have replaced Savisaar with another candidate after so many successive losses.

You may recall the conservatives in the UK who went from John Major to William Hague to Duncan Smith to Michael Howard to David Cameron over the past 15 years.

Max ütles ...

John said...
Before we contemplate Giustino's Alice-world in which people look forward to the future instead of looking ahead to the past, let's not forget that the last of the World War II war criminals are now pushing about 110 years of age -- this is the last chance to bring them to justice.


Hopefully John is indulging in heavy irony. Given the median age cited, surely 'justice' has long ago been replaced by forensic anthropology and vengeance as operative motivators.
;P

Max ütles ...

A couple of caveats: Political parties are rarely the originators of new ideas. I tend to see parties as collectives representing special-interest groups. The parties borrow or adopt ideas (or at worst, simply slogans and buzzwords suggestive of ideas) which best represent or sometimes even misrepresent or disguise the real goals of the interest groups the parties front for.
Also, new politicians do not always mean new or different ideas. Sometimes they actually embody a hoggish lack of ideas, or even a reversion to older ideas -- e.g. Messrs Brown and Cameron...
I guess the trick for the average voter is to divine whose stalking-horse a given pol or party is, and to select the least harmful and least offensive....
(Hell of a cynical note for New Year's Day, but there's universal truth in this: in Estonia, yes, but even more if we look at the broad array of entrants in the GOP and Democratic sweepstakes in the States...)

Giustino ütles ...

I guess the trick for the average voter is to divine whose stalking-horse a given pol or party is, and to select the least harmful and least offensive...

I recently read two op-eds by Marko Mihkelson (IRL) and Kadri Must (Keskerakond). It was over whether or not Estonia should prolong its mission in Iraq.

That's a real issue and I was glad to read both of their viewpoints. Must's opinion -- that Estonia doesn't need to stay in Iraq longer than the US -- was slightly shrill but welcome. It's a valid point, one that most people in that party would probably not address because they represent business interests, not people.

So let's just say that I'd rather listen to Kadri Must's attempt to sell me the Center Party than Savisaar's, even if they represent the same interests.

Good things can come out of superficial political changes, if only because so much of politics is pure improvised BS.

Max ütles ...

Giustino wrote:
Good things can come out of superficial political changes, if only because so much of politics is pure improvised BS.

Excellent point. Absolutely aphoristic, because witty and yet profoundly true.

Giustino ütles ...

Excellent point. Absolutely aphoristic, because witty and yet profoundly true.

You should hear the speeches here from Obama, McCain, and co.:

I believe in America that is strong

{applause}

An America that is respected in the world.

{applause}

I believe in sunshine and lollipops.

{applause}

I believe that apple pie tastes good.

{applause}

Vote for change.


and so on.

Blogaddict ütles ...

In addition to Brian Adams, Canadians should apologize for Celine Dion and curling.

In utero!

Max ütles ...

Me SO sorry, Blogaddict. Caterwauling Céline - in particular - is a blot Canajuns won't ever expunge, eh? Now add PM Stephen Harper and our Anti-Environment Minister John Beard of recent Bali notoriety to our shit list. John Beard (c'mon, google up his pic) was assembled by Doc Frankenstein from left-over parts, eh?

nipi ütles ...

Centrists in Estonia - Savisaar has managed to install in the party so many puppets so even he won't officially play the top role, he will stay behind in every cheating trick. And I do not expect much changes from centrists. Young Ratas tried something, but obviously stepped too hard on someone's foot so was sent to Parliament and kept silent there. Party discipline is so good that i do not expect any significant changes there even if Must will take the chair.
Well, only real issue is that Reiljan's Rahvaliit probably may disappear. Its remaining bits and pieces integrated with centrists.

Wahur ütles ...

Giustino, if you look at the history of Keskerakond, it soon becomes obvious that anyone that does not owe his/her position to Savisaar, or, oh the horror, has personal opinion that does not coincide with the opinion of The Chairman, gets into trouble sooner or later. Think of Mrs. Veidemann, Mikser, young Ratas. They either leave or shut up.

KE is not really a political party, but rather a personal business project of its leader in the form of a fanclub. Most active groupies get the the place in front of (or even on the) stage but they are not supposed to make the music.

As for fresh ideas in politics, this is where smallness of Estonia is an obstacle. You can only have so many good politicians and as long as the old guard - Savisaar, Laar, Reform head shed - is strong, no new people and new ideas will surface. Unfortunately.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Savisaar ain't that young anymore. He will leave politics (=die) eventually, which should lead to disapperance of KE and therefore a beginning of completely new era in Estonian politics.

Wahur ütles ...

Plasma, it is one of the most pathetic features of Estonian politics that what you say is true. And so we are sitting and waiting...

Andres ütles ...

Well Savisaar already has suffered from heart attacks, so start sending seapekk to Hundisilma :P

Max ütles ...

Waiting for pols to move on or croak may not be the most effective way to enliven the process. The problem is as I see it (having lived in Estonia just intermittently since 1995) that Estonian politicians function more or less with impunity - without interference from the voters - between elections. There don't seem to be the riding or constituency offices where petitioners or disenchanted voters can 'bug' the pol on his home turf, so he can largely ignore his constituents between elections and just needs to respond (as noted above) to party whips, etc.
Increased participation at the grassroots level would make pols (and parties) much more responsive. Not just participation by voters singly, but organized as special-interest groups, which abound in (for example) Canada and the US. There are NGOs representing every conceivable minority group, every disease, every major hobby, every ethnocultural interest, etc., etc. They all have membership lists and dun their members for dues. These dues pay for mass-mailings, ads and commercials to agitate for the special requirements of the group to an extent that pols cannot ignore. Or which they ignore at their peril. I'm talking (and Giustino can call me on it if I'm exaggerating) the equivalent of Haanja Kurakäeliste Kopameeste Ühing, Rõuge Rõugearmiliste Ühlejalgsete Rahvatantsijate Liit, Vene-Liivi Sõja Veteranide Järeltulijate Sõpruskond, Ubamulkide Kanepitöötlejate Huviring, jne., jne.
What I'm trying to say is that in a civil society the pressure on governments and politicians builds not within those structures, but from beneath them, from the ground up...
I know, I know. Takes time for these grass-roots pressure groups to evolve, but that IS the key to enlivening the participatory quotient in a democracy.

Giustino ütles ...

Well, only real issue is that Reiljan's Rahvaliit probably may disappear. Its remaining bits and pieces integrated with centrists.

There's some relationship with SDE here too. That's where Mikser went and others. ERL has support in rural counties, but so does SDE (it's leadership is mostly from Võrumaa).

If Savisaar was to migrate to the private sector -- which he should have done long ago -- who knows where the party would go.

The problem with them, the fundamental problem, is that he has made bad decisions and lost national elections. The '07 parliamentaries were his to lose -- and he lost them. The presidential backroom deal with Reiljan and Rüütel was supposedly secured -- and it blew up in their faces.

Then they thought Ansip would flirt with Laar and choose Keskerakond instead. It didn't happen, especially because Reform's voters hate Savisaar.

Any real parliamentary party right now would be looking at him and saying, your number is up. But nobody in the party has the power to do that.

Wahur ütles ...

Which only confirms what I said. And why should he go to private sector? His current position as a King of Tallinn makes private sector to come to him! Do you take him for a fool?

nipi ütles ...

He won't leave unless health fails.
Except - will use Schröder's option. Maybe this has already been agreed with his employer earlier.

Blogaddict ütles ...

Haanja Kurakäeliste Kopameeste Ühing ... where can I sign up? :-)

Leelo M. Umbsaar ütles ...

dear Giustino,

aitäh Sulle eelmise aasta blogihetkede eest. head uut 2008!

Sinu lugeja Kaug-Idast,

Leelo Maarja

p.s. and let's hope Obama would win