Michał Sapka's website

Eugen Rochko's nationality and propaganda

This is a political piece. As a rule, I try to avoid such subjects. This will be one of the rare exceptions

Recently I’ve published a short piece about Mastodon and one thing turned to be controversial:

Mastodon is a creation of a single Russian dude.

It seems like his nationality is quite a delicate subject. According to Wikipedia, Eugen was born in Russia and lived there till 11. 11 years is a lot of time.

For me, your nationality is not who you are at this moment, but which country you developed in. It’s about culture, roots, and general word view. This is why I consider him a Russian, just like I believe Skłodowska-Curie to be a Pole.

But what’s more important: it’s ok to be a Russian, just as it is ok to be Jew, American, or a Nigerian. Somehow we started to call countries “good” or “bad”. Is Russia on the wrong side of history now? It certainly seems so, as their invasion of Ukraine was met with hostility in most countries. But does it make the country evil? Russia has existed longer than Putin or Stalin (and I say it as a Pole). For me, countries are never good or bad. They are just controlled by evil or good people. So is America evil because of the invasion of Iraq, or is Bush’s administration’s fault?

Can we blame a random citizen for actions entirely out of this person’s control? When it comes to modern-day Russia, it’s often the case, but it’s wrong. Even if the person believes the government’s actions to be just, it’s no reason to judge the person. Propaganda is a thing, and being its victim is terrifying. And every government does propaganda. If you believe what you think is always true, you are wrong, as you were persuaded about many things. It was true 500, 100, and 50 years ago, and it is even truer now, as the control of information is even easier for those in power. We know what Facebook does to public opinion in the USA, but we don’t blame people who fall into that. How can we blame people who were indoctrinated their entire lives?