Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some of the best stuff on the internet

 But it's fairly clear that hate that made the Shoah was neither an invention nor the magic of false-consciousness, but a reflection of the people themselves:

In the same poll of November 1946, one German in three agreed with the proposition that ‘Jews should not have the same rights as those belonging to the Aryan race’. This is not especially surprising, given that respondents had just emerged from twelve years under an authoritarian government committed to this view. What does surprise is a poll taken six years later in which a slightly higher. percentage of West Germans—37 percent—affirmed that it was better for Germany to have no Jews on its territory. But then in that same year (1952) 25 percent of West Germans admitted to having a ‘good opinion’ of Hitler.

Attendant to all of this was something that any student of white supremacy in America will recognize--a strong propensity toward national amnesia:

 In Italy the daily newspaper of the new Christian Democrat Party put out a similar call to oblivion on the day of Hitler’s death: ‘We have the strength to forget!’, it proclaimed. ‘Forget as soon as possible!’ In the East the Communists’ strongest suit was their promise to make a revolutionary new beginning in countries where everyone had something to forget...

It's worth taking a moment to think about this "strength to forget" notion. National forgetting is always a selective endeavor. Italy had no more intention of dismissing its Roman heritage as "the past," then Americans have of dismissing George Washington as "the past." "The past" is whatever contributes to a societies moral debts. "Heritage" is everything else. 

Judt is making a very disturbing argument--that postwar Europe was built on  a willingness to only push deNazification but so far. There is here something not wholly dissimilar to our own reunion accomplished on an agreement to "forget" what the War was over. So far does the myth advance that Judt finds president Eisenhower lauding the Wermacht--"The German soldier fought bravely and honorably for his homeland."
We are confronted with a series of awful questions: What are the actual limits of human justice? How much of human justice, ultimately, rests on the accumulation of guns? What is one to do when the people, themselves--not sinister hidden forces are the engines of persecution? Of useful killing? Of genocide? ...

Man.  Such hate. What can we do against such reckless hate. Don't study history to boost your self-esteem. Study history to lose your religion. Or maybe in the end, to gain it. I am not religious at all. But seeing the limits of all of us, you start to understand why people might appeal to some higher, more certain, more fierce, invention.

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