Another Donbas Anecdote

There’s also this fascinating story in Aseyev’s book In Isolation.

It became fashionable among the defenders of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” to bring home weaponry and grenades to show off to neighbors and friends. Once, a DPR soldier was standing in front of his apartment building with a bunch of friends, demonstrating his collection of weapons. The soldier’s two-year-old son was nearby.

These local DPR guys aren’t real soldiers, of course. They get no training and have no idea what they are doing most of the time. So it’s not surprising that soon enough one of the grenades blew up. The DPR guy was seriously wounded. His little son was shell-shocked and started bleeding from his ears. (The poor kid lost his hearing as a result of this).

But the strangest thing, says Aseyev, who was at the scene because this was the apartment building where he lived, was the reaction of the people present. They remained completely indifferent, and within minutes of the explosion were talking about how it had been carried out by evil Americans.

“Why are you saying this?” Aseyev asked. “You were here. You saw that he blew himself up by accident.”

The people shrugged. Blaming Americans is simply what you say. It’s like “hi, how are you” or “diversity is our strength.” It’s a verbal tick that creates new reality instead of describing an existing one.

One thought on “Another Donbas Anecdote

  1. I would say that the important thing is precisely that it is false. If you simply said something true, it shows nothing about your loyalty to the group. When you say an obvious falsehood with full conviction, it shows that you value the group more than even the truth. At a practical level, it makes it difficult to defect in the future. Why should outsiders accept you if you are a liar? This is a major weakness in John Stuart mill style classical liberalism. It is hardly obvious that good and true ideas well win out in a free market.

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