Am I responsible for Stalin?

Except there are untold number of leftist who never supported any of Stalin’s policies. I’m going to leave the denouncing to those who actually supported evil policies.

I think there are two very similar but not quite identical parts to this question, which is whether you ARE responsible for something even in some way vs. whether you SEEM responsible for it.

If I were a moderate Muslim in the US today, I would not in any way BE responsible for actions taken by Muslim extremists in other parts of the globe. But I’d be foolish not to realize that in this political climate in this country at this time, a lot of ignorant people are going to associate me with them. So it might behoove me to go out of my way to distance myself from their actions, denounce them, etc. Not that I have a responsibility to do so in some moral fashion, but because it makes good practical sense as far as how people will view my community, etc.

Conservative historian Paul Johnson actually spent the whole of Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties blaming all the tragedies and destructive ideologies of the 20th Century on, not atheism as such, but “moral relativism.” In fact, he traces it all back to Einstein’s theories of relativity (while absolving Einstein himself of any blame, and of any confusion between relativity in physics and relativism in ethics).

The guy died 60 years ago. How many people still alive could be responsible for him in any way?

The extreme alternative, moral absolutism, seems a hell of a lot worse. Inquisitions, pogroms, crusades, and the like.

Moral relativism, at least in its moderate forms, seems obviously superior. This is particularly true when “right and wrong” arise out of formula (such as the anti-gay stance of the Bible) rather than out of reason.

And, yeah, even today you hear people confusing Relativity with relativism! It’s kinda fun to read crank and crackpot web sites attacking Einstein as if he caused the hippie movement (which, as we all know, marked the downfall of western civilization…)

If I get a canary and name it Antoni, will I be responsible for the Sagrada Familia?

Conservapedia certainly has a problem with relativity.

Only if it is a very, very long-lived canary.
Or never had sex.

Misha thanks you. He’s now become insufferable. He insists that he should now be declared the real Царь всей России, “Tzar of all the Russias”, since he ended the Cold War, and all, and is threatening to impose GULAG on my ass. Never trust a cat born on Октябрьской революции “Oktyabrskoya Revolyutsaya”.

Canary, fine. Just don’t tell the cat. You really don’t want to know what the cat will impose. And the bird won’t like it, either.

Holy f***! This just helps confirm good old Poe’s Law; if you had quoted from that without attribution, I would have thought it to be a parody!

IIRC, Stalin was a pretty smart guy, with a personal library of thousands of books. But his understanding of Marxist theory was weak and resisted improvement when Lenin tried to have him tutored. (Maybe that proves he was smart: "this is bullshit but I can really work this angle). And while he pimped dead Lenin for all he could, if Stalin had any real hero it was Henry Ford.

That’s not saying much, though. Lenin was a jackass too. In fact, they say the only good deed Stalin did was to make Lenin look good by comparison.

A lot of conservatives think this guy is loony tunes.

How can you be responsible for something a guy did before you were born?

I thought only religions were into that.

Which ones? Just how?

Original Sin ?

When you point out that religion has been responsible for a lot of wars and oppression, it is–at least in some small way–relevant when you’re debating people who belong to those same religions. But they’ll always come back by pointing out that Communism was atheistic, the point being not that religion is less than 100% guilty but that you, Mr. Atheist, are also guilty and thus we have equivalence.

But they’re not equivalent because atheism isn’t something you join, it means there’s something you’ve quit. You can’t resign from atheism in protest the way you could from a religion (IANAA, btw.)

Religious conservatives also seem to think that if atheism becomes popular of if you take religion out of government then a slippery-slope to Communism is the inevitable result. But of course Communist regimes start out as bloody revolutions against the ruling economic classes, not as anti-religion movements. Atheism is a secondary characteristic of communism, not its driving agenda.

IIRC, Marxist philosophy is down on religion because they see it as a tool that the ruling classes exploit to keep the lower classes mollified and their righteous anger directed elsewhere. Which in no way sounds familiar. :dubious:

Atheism, almost by definition, implies I am not concerned with what other people do or do not believe.

Also, I agree with the premise that we should hold everyone to the same standard. People should not be held to a different standard just because they are co-religionists.