Debates


Negacionismo


 

I will keep my intervention here brief. Negacionismo is a pseudo-issue or to use another term a "red herring" introduced and maintained by persons in various professions (journalism, historical study, etc.) to consume enormous amounts of energy by making others respond to unfounded accusations rather than continue with serious ethical and historical debate.

That said, the limits of liability to which the gentleman refers pertain to individuals and not to corporate entities like governments or companies. The Spanish Republic-- were it still to exist-- would not have been liable to apologise for the acts of the monarchy it replaced. We will never know whether the Republic (like the French Republic) would have continued its colonial rule in West Africa had Franco been defeated. Therefore it is useless to speculate about its putative liability. However, the Republic was overthrown and replaced by a monarchy at the order of the dictator Franco. This monarchy only exists on the basis of a presumed hereditary continuity with the Spanish monarchy that the Republic replaced. It is a continuation of the royal Spanish state and this continuity has both advantages and disadvantages. The Spanish crown cannot base its legitimacy on some historical dynastic settlement and then renounce the history that preceded it. However, ever if the present Spanish monarchy were sui generis and had not the least historical connection to Spain's past, it remains true of Spain, France and Britain that their wealth could never have been so great had they not plundered their colonies. France continued to plunder and extort wealth from Haiti long after that island attained its independence from France. To this day France has refused to yield either morally or economically in its position as exploiter of one of the world's poorest countries (which was France's single most profitable colony).

It is not as if Europe has ceased to exploit Latin America or Africa. The US has not ceased to exploit its former colonies or protectorates. (The US has not even ceased to exploit its native population or the descendants of its former slaves.)

Apologies are only a legal act toward reconciliation. They help reconciliation and they give a long overdue recognition to the independence which was grudgingly given (after military defeats). The learned gentleman may have forgotten that most countries even had to pay damages or compensation to their former colonial masters and slaves had to pay their former masters even after winning their freedom on the battlefield. The alternative would have been to bleed to death-- as was the case with Haiti. By making formal apologies states like Spain or France or Britain renounce the legal basis for their unjust claims in the past. That is a very important matter for the development of free peoples and peace in this world. Only the stubborn and selfish-- and ultimately greedy-- bad conscience of Europe and North America prevents them from making these gestures toward justice. Without justice there can be no peace.

It is very unfortunate that many people have either too much time on their hands or not enough interest in justice in history and therefore spend a lot of time bludgeoning the rest of us with pseudo-issues like negacionismo. Seventy years after the total defeat of the Axis and the unconditional surrender of the German state under the NSDAP, there is no one who seriously disputes what happened in Europe between 1932 and 1945. Yet we have battalions of historians who are refuse to acknowledge what has continued from 1492 to 2008. In my view this is a crass discrepancy and it should be a reason for serious reflection and self-criticism for those who continue to trivialise the effect of European colonialism on the rest of the world. This colonialism did not end in 1945. If negacionismo has any meaning at all-- it should refer to this refusal by many persons in the academic and non-academic professions to admit today's injustices and their roots in the history of Europe as a whole (including its extensions like the USA).

Dr. Patrick Wilkinson
Cognitive Consulting and Language Logistics
Kirchstrasse 32
D-40227 Düsseldorf