• frank

    In organizations/governments there need just be factors/ideas overriding (positive) ethics, and atrocities can take place.jorndoe

    What kind of factors cause that?

    Killing Jews was a crowd pleaser well before the Enlightenment. The Crusades had people doing it at home as well as abroad.Paine

    I know. But I think the average human would be left speechless by Dachau. It was just in another level. Although, people who witnessed conditions in Brazil during the slave trade reported Holocaust-like conditions where there was brutality for the sake of doing it. As @jorndoe pointed out, it's group think that does it.
  • BC
    I haven't revisited The Last Picture Show recently -- thanks for the reminder, One of the best films ever, imho. The scene does depict everyday anomie rather well.

    In the publisher's summary of All for Nothing, it said "since Eberhard von Globig, a special officer in the German army, went to war, leaving behind his beautiful but vague wife, Katharina." Just out of idle curiosity, what is a "vague wife"? I've known a few people whose normal state was "vague".

    You know this -- not telling you anything new: One of the aspects of the Holocaust is that the ground work was laid over a long time. Hitler didn't invent virulent antisemitism; rather, he fanned its flames.

    If the German people tolerated, accepted, or welcomed the extermination of the jews, they weren't the first group of modern people to do such a thing. Americans tolerated, accepted, or welcomed the near extermination of aboriginal people. Plus we had slavery. And we Americans like Germans, think of ourselves as good people--and are.

    We are good people, aren't we?
  • Tzeentch
    Totalitarianism is fundamentally different from classical dictatorships.

    The most notable difference is that totalitarianism is actually a bottom-up phenomenon, arising when a subtantial part of the population (generally around one third) becomes ideologically possessed and demands the state carry out some particular ideology.

    Classical dictatorships are top-down - it is only accepted by the population because of the coercive power of the ruler.
  • Paine

    The scale is a significant difference. They are not the same event. I do challenge the idea that the difference was the result of a "weak moral anchor."

    Hannah Arendt is on to something when she distinguishes religious hatred from antisemitism because of the way the latter developed through an international community. The story of punishing a group that is identified as the cause of one's misfortune changes into one of a People rising up against their oppressors. The story of the Russian Revolution is similar in seeing the fight as liberating themselves from the previous winners of the world order.

    This way of becoming who you are through destruction has a different character than taking the confidence of one's superiority to be reason enough to rule over others. The Japanese didn't claim the Chinese were stopping them from being who they were. They liked the fruits of empire and hoped to like it even more. They weren't remaking the structure of their society at the same time.
  • Tom Storm
    So we're just in a lull? We can expect 100s of millions to die violent deaths at the hands of their relatives sometime around the corner?

    Or could we find a way to channel our aggression with less bloodshed?

    You tell me.
  • jorndoe
    , could be just about anything I think (plus combinations), greed, demagoguery, populism, propaganda, rhetoric, grandeur, perception/promotion of ethics as weak, contrarianism, fear, ideological entrenchment, madness, ... Need not be coherent. I'm wary of generalizations though. Maybe case studies or examples is where it's at.

    Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.Jul 22, 1209
  • Tom Storm
    Kings want to be emperors. Governors want to be president. Millionaires want to be billionaires. Same as it ever was.T Clark

    Kind of, but those guys don't generally do the actual mass killing themselves and invariably use or manufacture a narrative about purity and truth that provides sufficient motivation for the masses to become killers and dungeon apparatchiks.
  • Paine
    Just out of idle curiosity, what is a "vague wife"? I've known a few people whose normal state was "vague".BC

    I get why the summary says that but it does not reflect a careful reading of the book. With the possible exception of the son, all the characters operate in a fixated manner. The characters who are easily understood are the committed nazis. The diffuse presentation of others makes it difficult to separate a coping strategy from a clear thought of resistance. Suspicion becomes more than a thought and switches the tracks one travels upon.

    We are good people, aren't we?BC

    The best of all possible people. Oh wait, a collection of soil has formed on the road outside. I will take my broom and........

  • frank

    well said

    You tell me.Tom Storm

    How am I supposed to know? :grin:
  • Tom Storm
    Then we are both screwed, Frank. I was hoping you might have done more reading/thinking than me on the matter and come sweeping in with some special clarity. :wink:

    One of my favourite critics, Clive James, (who was a very deep reader but not a philosopher) once said that we must never forget that barbarism is an initial impulse that lies just under the surface of humans waiting to be activated. I suspect this is correct. He doesn't mean that we are doomed or that we don't also do magnificent, selfless things, but this dark patch is there, waiting, and history tells us it doesn't take much to be activated.
  • Agent Smith
    It seems large scale crimes need to be put in perspective. For example the holocaust registered at least 6,000,000 jewish lives (requiescat in pace), but then there were at least 2,000,000 Nazis i.e. a ratio of 3:1 (3 Jewish lives per Nazi).

    Compare that to Elizabeth Báthory's (the blood countess) victim count: 280, 650 alleged. That's 280:1, that's a kill rate (victims per victimizer) 90 times as high as the Nazis. :chin:

    If the Nazi kill rate was the same as Elizabeth Bàthory's, 560,000,000 (half a billion) Jews would've met their end in WW2! :scream:
  • frank
    He doesn't mean that we are doomed or that we don't also do magnificent, selfless things, but this dark patch is there, waiting, and history tells us it doesn't take much to be activated.Tom Storm

    Right. Aggression is a two edged sword. We didn't take over the land surface of this planet by being model, moral creatures, although that has a place.

    The question that's left is whether you can accept that, or does it make you grind your teeth to know that it will all happen again? Because that's wasted grinding, isn't it?
  • Tom Storm
    One of my favorite quotes (which I think was Milan Kundera) is, "You build a utopia, pretty soon you're going to need a small concentration camp.'

    I don't spend much time festering or grinding my teeth about impending disasters awaiting in the world of geopolitics. I think it's worth borrowing from the Stoics in this space. How do you deal with it?
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