“Delay has its own heavy price. The poison accumulates in the system.”

At the Guardian’s Cif blog Tim Garton Ash considers what lessons others, eg us, can learn from Poland’s attempt to deal with it’s dark, difficult past – “Should you remember or forget? Should you use trials, purges, truth commissions, or simply throw open the archives?” Given the questions he poses it’s worthwhile highlighting his conclusion.. as we lurch forward on those already poisonous foundations.

On balance, I remain convinced that the sooner you can do it the better. “It” should mean a rapid, scrupulous, individually appealable lustration of those in genuinely important positions in public life and, even more vital, some form of public reckoning with the larger issues of the difficult past. The necessary complement to a velvet revolution is something along the lines of a truth commission, which also gives people a sense of historical catharsis – otherwise often lacking in peaceful, negotiated transitions – and draws a clear line between dark past and better future.

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  • BogExile

    Medical analogies should be left to doctors:

    It is fatuous to assume that a ‘Truth process’ is the inevitable end product of ‘Peace Process’ especially one as flawed as ours.

    We’re always lancing the boils or draining the wounds or healing the scars – it’s like a politically correct version of ER.

    When you subtract the ‘psueds corner’ introspection from this piece it’s just another bit of wishful post-conflict industry blather which supplants the criminal justice system with ‘catharsis.’

    The trouble with the ‘truth’ is that it isn’t ever truthful it’s just one representation of our psychotic past. The dominant narrative of our times is self-congratulatory optimism but the sun doesn’t always shine so brightly on those who remain aggreived by their loss in the troubles. One size fits all ‘truth recovery’ won’t work precisely because the context here is all wrong. There isn’t one clearly identifiable monolithic opponent, the enemies lived next fucking door to you.

    We need reconcilliation townland by townland, street by street. This is a much more honest, durable and complex task than grand government sponsored Peace and Reconcilliation PR exercises designed in part to diminsh and disguise our visceral hatred of each other which still simmers unchecked under the surface, at every interface, in the hearts and minds of those elected to co-operate.

    How to do it?