The inflation of genocide

A Lithuanian philosopher rejects political calls for the Soviet Union’s slaughter of Lithuanians to be labelled an act of genocide.

Editor’s note: Was the slaughter of Lithuanians by the Soviet Union an act of genocide? If so, should denial of the term ‘genocide’ be considered criminal? The Lithuanian parliament is set, in the coming months, to consider precisely those questions. In this essay, without downplaying the horrors of Soviet rule, the Lithuanian philosopher Leonidas Donskis argues against application of the term. It would, he contends, be wrong historically, wrong legally, wrong conceptually. It is, rather, an example of our age’s inflation of concepts – one that risks marginalising genocide. The essay also comes against the backdrop of the formulation of a law in Russia that would criminalise those who equate Stalin and Hitler or deny that the Red Army “liberated” eastern Europe from fascism.

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