We were true believers January 25, 2014Posted by Ezra Resnick in Belief, Politics.
Tags: Milan Kundera
From Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984):
Anyone who thinks that the Communist regimes of Central Europe are exclusively the work of criminals is overlooking a basic truth: the criminal regimes were made not by criminals but by enthusiasts convinced they had discovered the only road to paradise. They defended that road so valiantly that they were forced to execute many people. Later it became clear that there was no paradise, that the enthusiasts were therefore murderers.
Then everyone took to shouting at the Communists: You’re the ones responsible for our country’s misfortunes (it had grown poor and desolate), for its loss of independence (it had fallen into the hands of the Russians), for its judicial murders!
And the accused responded: We didn’t know! We were deceived! We were true believers! Deep in our hearts we are innocent!
… whether they knew or didn’t know is not the main issue; the main issue is whether a man is innocent because he didn’t know. Is a fool on the throne relieved of all responsibility merely because he is a fool?
… Isn’t his “I didn’t know! I was a believer!” at the very root of his irreparable guilt?