It must lose something in the translation


Webster’s on-line dictionary offers the following definition of the word “rational”

\ˈrash-nəl, ˈra-shə-nəl\,adjective, Etymology:Middle English racional, from Anglo-French racionel, from Latin rationalis, from ration-, ratio

1 a: having reason or understanding b: relating to, based on, or agreeable to reason : reasonable <a rational explanation> <rational behavior>

Perhaps it just my American-centric point of view that leads me toward having a positive feeling about rational behavior. Rational behavior, I would normally suspect, is a good thing. So, imagine my surprise at the following headline from The Times (UK): “Josef Stalin acted rationally in killing millions, claims Russian textbook”

The book, A History of Russia, 1900-1945, will be used as a teaching guide in Russian schools, 55 years after Stalin died.

It is designed for teachers to promote patriotism among the Russian young, and seems to follow an attempt backed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to re-evaluate Stalin’s record in a more positive light.

Historians believe up to 20 million people died as a result of his actions, many times more than were killed under Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany.

Here is a direct quote from the texbook: “He acted entirely rationally – as the guardian of a system, as a consistent support of reshaping the country into an industrialised state.”

Mass Murder is rational. Who knew?

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This is the World Famous Friday Open Thread: A Sarah Palin Fan-Zone. Trackbacks, comments, linkage, Sarah photos, welcome.

WFFOT: To boldly go where no thread has gone before.

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17 Responses

  1. “Mass Murder is rational.”

    Sure it is (or can be made to appear). It’s just evil.

    Reason uninformed by morality has no appeal for me, though.

  2. there you go with those value judgements again

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  4. great find.

    Without a morality that is anchored, anything can be rationalized, even mass murder.

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