Part 1: In which era are we living?

A truth and reconciliation commission as a permanent institution

Australian aboriginaalien kaiverrus totuuskomissiosta.
Written by Editors

A global society can only be founded on the rule of law. Democracy in its present form cannot prevail if this principle is not fundamentally developed.

How can this crisis of democracy be solved politically? Here is our suggestion: every state governed by the rule of law (including unions of states like the EU) should have:

(1) a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a permanent governmental organ and

(2) a Citizens’ Truth Forum, run in cooperation with the truth commission. This truth forum should also have official status in society.

The truth forum is presented in more detail in Part II: What is to be done?

Collective self-deception and the idea of a truth commission

Collective self-deception, not open oppression, is the reason for the biggest social injustices in democratic states governed by the rule of law.

Truth commissions and truth forums deal with injustices that have become, or are to become, the norm. These injustices are always based on an official lie – a lie that is accepted, not only by politicians, but also by legal authorities, academic researchers, media, and, in the end, a large number of citizens, to their own advantage and often self-deceptively.

There is a tendency towards collective self-deception and illegalities based on it, even in the most democratic countries. A good example of this tendency is Finlandization.  Another is the conspiracy theory, accepted by millions of Americans, of the “fraud” in the presidential elections in 2016 and 2020.

All the truth commissions so far have been temporary. They have often been founded during a transfer of power or a change in the power structures. The most famous of these is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, founded in 1995 to deal with the events of the apartheid era. In democratic countries, however, truth commissions have concentrated on a specific issue, and they have not been linked to changes in power. Examples of these are the truth commissions in Canada and Norway, set up to investigate the treatment of indigenous people, and the one in Sweden, organised to investigate the activities of the country’s security service.

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The viability, vitality, mental vigour, and regenerative power of each country depend on how and to what extent the country’s recent history is discussed within that country. That is the ethical core of my political will.

Truth commissions and truth forums deal with injustices that have become or are to become the “custom in the country”.

Truth commissions have been significant historical steps forward in the processes of coming to terms with the past. But in democracies, a temporary body focused on specific issues is not enough to correct the injustices that have become norm.

To establish truth and reconciliation commissions as permanent institutions, changes in constitutional laws and, as far as the European Union is concerned, in EU Treaties, are needed. Naturally, the development and further definition of the idea of a truth commission is also necessary.

The functions of the truth and reconciliation commission

Injustices that, due to collective self-deception, have become the norm are impossible to judge strictly according to the law – most political leaders and top government officials would be among the accused. It would also be hard to find such officials to deal with the illegalities who would not be obligated to recuse. The normal functioning of society would suffer, and there would be a threat of unrest.

The task of the truth commission would be to conduct a juridical investigation into the transgressions that have taken place. It could grant a general amnesty to those who confess to their crime or misconduct and are willing to participate in the investigation. Additionally, the commission might offer economic compensation to those who have been wronged.

A truth commission would make it easier for politicians, government officials, financial leaders, and opinion makers to admit their mistakes. It would dramatically decrease the confrontation in political debate. If governing powers are able to change, demagogy will lose its appeal. When the power of collective self-deception in society is acknowledged, there is no need for citizens to resort to conspiracy theories, at least not to the extent that they do today.

It is essential in our proposal to have a Citizens’ Truth Forum which works together with the truth commission. The truth forum oversees the work of the truth commission. It also educates citizens at different levels of society to learn from history and to observe the world from the point of the overall interest of humankind.

Related

FEATURED IMAGE
Australian aboriginaalien kaiverrus totuuskomissiosta.

An engraving by Aboriginals for the Truth Commission. Australians use the term “telling the truth” about reconciliation with their indigenous peoples. PHOTO:  Eyesplash, Flickr.

OUR VIEW: Humanity first! Towards an ethical civilization.

PART 1. IN WHICH ERA ARE WE LIVING?

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