Sunday, February 26, 2006
Gilad Atzmon - Re-Arranging the 20th Century part 2: Deceptive Cadence
Though there is a clear tendency amongst some major Western institutes to impose the personal as a political message all in the name of liberty and humanism, it is rather crucial to mention that this very political apparatus achieves exactly the opposite effect. Politically, it silences the very personal.
Once the personal becomes political, the singular voice loses its importance and authenticity disappears. Once a society willingly endorses discourse based on a ‘correct’ collective empathy, first, the so-called ‘empathy’ is reduced into a mere ‘call’ rather than a vivid sensation, but most importantly, the voice of the genuine sufferer fades into the void.
In other words, within the Western liberal apparatus the singular voice often gets lost. If humanism is indeed a universal value, then the particular and singular becomes a public asset, the victim serves an instrumental role, he conveys a universal message. Once the personal becomes political, morality becomes a private-like discourse of righteousness. Rather than a general ethical abstract rule grounded on a true reflection, we would start to hear some ad hoc, self-centred and half-baked moral arguments. This may explain why rather occasionally, yesterday’s victims turn into today’s oppressors. For instance, it may explain why it didn’t take the Jewish State more than three years after the liberation of Auschwitz to ethnically cleanse 85% of the Palestinian indigenous population. Seemingly, the Jewish State has never matured enough to ethically endorse the moral lesson of the Holocaust. The reason is simple: as far as Israel is concerned, the Holocaust has never been realised as a general abstract ethical insight. Instead, it was grasped solely from a collective Judeo-centric perspective. The personal pain was properly politicised. A humanist would expect that young Israeli high school students who visit Auschwitz and confront their ancestors’ suffering would tend to empathise with the plight of the oppressed, and would identify with the Palestinians who are caged behind walls and starved to death at the hands of a nationalist racist regime seeking Lebensraum. Indeed the truth is shocking, less than a year after their visit to Auschwitz those same Israeli youngsters join the IDF, outwardly, they learned their political lesson in Auschwitz. Rather than taking the side of the oppressed i.e., Palestinians, they apparently willingly endorse some SS Einsatzgruppen tactics.
Deir Yassin, a few hundred metres away from Yad Vashem's imposing monument
But it isn’t only the Palestinians who happen to suffer from the politicisation and industrialisation of the Holocaust personal narrative. Once the Holocaust had become ‘the new Jewish religion’, it was the real, genuine victim who was robbed of his own intimate personal biography. The very private disastrous narrative has now become collective Jewish property. The real singular Holocaust survivor, the one who lived the horror, has been robbed of his very personal life experience. Similarly, within the extremist militant feminist view, which refers rapist qualities to the entire male gender, the genuine female rape victim is losing her voice. She is fading into the mass. Within the radical feminist political discourse the rape victim isn’t special at all: if all men are rapists, all women are victims.
Finkelstein’s ‘Holocaust Industry’ teaches us that once world Jewry adopted the Holocaust as its new institutional communal bond, the Holocaust was rapidly transformed into an industrial affair. The real victims were left behind. The funds and reparation money that were allocated for their recovery and the restoration of their very human dignity one way or another found its way to some Zionist and Jewish organizations. Somehow, this makes a lot of sense. Once the personal Holocaust narrative has become a collective political faith, almost everyone is entitled to be an ordinary disciple or even a priest. Consequently, we are now entitled to deduce that within the politicisation of the personal narrative, no one is left to own a biography. We are left with a collective ecstasies mindset that draws its power from a set of communally shared floating personal accounts.
Going along with the hermeneutic line of thought we may conclude that the political becomes personal.
The Political is Personal, The Crucial Role of Jewish Neurosis
The bizarre emergence of the so-called Israeli ‘3rd generation’, young Holocaust post- traumatic Israelis, is exactly that. It is a form of a new collective religious worshiping. To be a 3rd generation is to join a belief system. To be personally traumatised by a past one has never entertained. It is to assimilate within a heavily orchestrated political precept. In fact, the 3rd generation are locked within a vicious trap that leads towards total alienation: the more those young Israelis who were born a few decades after the end of the last great war claim to be traumatized by the Nazis, the less the rest of humanity can take them seriously. The less they are taken seriously, the more those young Israelis feel deprived of minimal human dignity and respect. The more they are deprived, the more they are fixated onto their new politically imposed notion of trauma.
In a way, this is exactly the path towards religious isolation. The so-called ‘3rd generation’ are entangled within a narrative that leads towards a form of total alienation, a clear detachment from any recognised human cultural environment or reality. It is the religious zeal i.e., trauma, that shapes that reality. One would expect that this form of collective neurosis would mature into a cultural separation wall between Jews and others. Surprisingly enough, not only did this not happen, if anything, it is the other way around. The Jewish discourse is integrated as a central part of Western consciousness. While some Jews would insist upon liberating themselves from the Holocaust burden that imposed a clear stain of hopeless impotence on their collective identity, the Western political system needs the Holocaust and the Jews to be the carrier of its narrative. Furthermore, the West needs the Jewish neurosis. It is the myth-like shaped narrative that facilitates the political and the commercial hegemony in a world that loses its contact with any genuine abstract categorical ethical thinking. The Holocaust is taking the shape of a belief system and the traumatised Jews are serving as its altar.
From a Western perspective, the Jews have an instrumental role in maintaining the liberal fundaments filling it with some devastating vivid poetic expressionism. This may explain why Holocaust denial laws are imposed in several countries, especially in countries where Zionist and Jewish lobbies’ influence is relatively minor. The Israeli scholar Yeshayahu Leibovitch, himself an observant Jew, noticed many years ago that the Jewish religion is dead, and that the Holocaust is the new religion uniting Jews around the world. I am inclined to agree that the Holocaust is now shaped as a religion. It is there to replace an anthropocentric ethical thinking. The Holocaust religion is there to rob the Western being of genuine ethical humanist thinking all in the name of humanism.
The emergence and the evolution of the Holocaust belief system is the subject I will try to explore next.
The Scientific, the Technological and the Religious
I would like now to look at the evolvement of three major 20th century Western discourses: the scientific, the technological and the religious.
The scientific discourse can be defined as a highly structured form of ‘knowledge seeking’. Within the scientific worldview, man confronts nature and tries to get to the bottom of it. The technological discourse, on the other hand, is far less concerned with knowledge gathering, it is rather orientated around the transformation of knowledge into power. The technologist would say, ‘It’s of no concern to me whether you are applying Newtonian mechanics or Einstein’s relativity theory, just make sure that you get me to the moon, (you may as well make sure that it doesn’t cost too much).’ On the face of it, both the scientific and the technological discourses set man apart from nature. Both discourses imply human detachment from nature. The reason is pretty simple, if man can get to the bottom of nature, then man must be somehow greater or at least a different quality to nature. From a technological point of view, if nature and the knowledge of nature are there to serve man, then man must somehow be superior to nature.
Seemingly, these two discourses dominated the 20th century Anglo-American intellectual discourse. And since it was the Anglo-Americans who dominated our universe at least since the end of WWII, we are entitled to argue that these two thinking modes have been dominating the entire Western discourse for more than a while. In other words, to be Western in the 20th century meant to think scientifically and to act technologically. Accordingly, growing up in the West would mean, first learning to admire the scientist and to worship science, then gradually learning to applaud and consume technological innovations.
Academically speaking, it was the positivist school that insisted that we should become more scientific and far less philosophical. Historically at least, it was the Vienna Circle, a group of philosophers and scientists who aimed at eradicating any traces of metaphysics out of the body of scientific knowledge. For the logical positivists, ‘logical rules and empirical data are the only sources of knowledge.’ Needless to say, logical positivism was an attempt to strike against the diversity of human reality. As some of the readers of this paper would hopefully agree: emotions, feelings and aesthetic pleasure can be equally as important as sources of knowledge and even scientific realisation, not to say insight. Nevertheless, the logical positivists wouldn’t agree, they were full of contempt towards quasi-scientific knowledge. Psychoanalysis, for instance, was like a red rug to a bull, it was totally unacceptable. Logical positivism wasn’t just an attack against emotional and spiritual expression, it was also a clear offensive on German philosophy. It was an unambiguous assault on German metaphysics, Idealism and early Romanticism.
In 1936, following the Nazi incursion of Austria, there were no positivists left in Vienna, due to their ethnic origin they had to flee. Most of them found shelter in Anglo-American universities. I do believe that the overwhelming positivistic tendency within the post-war English speaking academic world has a lot to do with the forced immigration of those Jewish-German positivists. And yet, America has never been a scientifically orientated nation. Not ‘many’ scientific revolutions took place on the other side of the Atlantic. America is the land of open opportunities and science was no doubt a great opportunity.
Rather than internalising the spirit of science, America was very efficient in transforming science into political and economic power. It was quick in allowing a bunch of exiled European scientists, most of them German Jews (as well as one Italian married to an Jewish woman), to build its first atomic bombs. It was very quick in embracing German rocket scientists who were enthusiastic enough to blast monkeys into outer space. The American intellectual world has never been too enthusiastic about abstract theoretical, not to say philosophical, questions. The very Germanic question ‘Was ist?’ didn’t really make it to the Anglo-American academic world. On the contrary, America has always been concerned with technological challenges. In other words, it is enthusiastic about the different mode of transformation of knowledge into power. America is all about technology, it is pragmatically orientated. Even within art, where America happens to contribute some major works of modern art and music, it didn’t take long before a market value was tagged. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what you may know about the origin of knowledge as long as you drink Coke, eat McDonalds, buy a Charlie Parker album and dream of owning an original by Kandinsky.
It is within this very pragmatic approach that led to the rise of a new form of contemporary unique religious discourse. While the scientific and the technological approaches set man aside from nature, the new Western religion re-locates man deeply within nature. The new Western subject, very much like the rock and the tree, lacks any substantial sense of self-awareness or critical tendencies. Willingly and enthusiastically, the newly formed Western being tends to accept some readymade reality perceptions. Within this newly emerging mythological faith, Democracy is one God, the Holocaust is another. These two Gods support each other. Democracy is the blind praise of human liberty a la Natan Sharansky whom George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice repeatedly quote. Holocaust, on the other hand, is the story of the ultimate persecution and everlasting revenge a la Simon Wiesenthal. Democracy is the matter, the noticeable and manifested glory with white houses and glass skyscrapers. The Holocaust is the spirit, the Holy Arc, that thing which you follow in the desert but can never enter, question or challenge. The Holocaust God is standing at the very core of the argument for democracy that allows the Anglo-Americans to insist upon ‘liberating’ the very few countries that still hold some energy resources or are found to be located strategically close enough to these resources.
As we can see, the two Gods, Holocaust and Democracy, are cleverly set in a complementary relationship. The message is clear: unless Democracy is in place, a Holocaust is inevitable. Apparently, Anglo-Americans are using democracy as a political argument to violently expand their economic global hegemony. The less we are convinced by the democratic goddess, the less we believe our elected politicians and their illegal wars, the more we are dependent on an external supernatural paradigm. Auschwitz is exactly that paradigm. It is the ultimate supernatural narrative in which ordinary human beings become killing machines. It is the Auschwitz narrative in which the most culturally advanced nation is becoming a willing executioner a la Daniel Goldhagen.
The Holocaust God is there to sketch the alternative doomed reality. But as bizarre as it may sound, it is democratic America that has been lethally applying science against innocent civilians for over six decades. Whether it is Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima, whether it is Vietnam or Iraq among many more places, the same story repeats itself: Anglo-Americans are killing en masse in the name of Democracy. There is always a clear valid moral cause behind their kill. Allegedly, lately they liberated the Iraqi people from the tyranny of the ‘Hitler-like’ mass murderer Saddam. Yet, it is crucial to mention that although the Americans and their puppet Iraqi legislators had enough time to collect more than enough forensic evidence to incriminate Mr Saddam Hussein, they were unable to do so. On the face of it, Mr Hussein’s charges in court are negligible compared to the charges that can be already established against Bush or Blair. Obviously, what is true about Saddam is applicable to the other ‘Hitler-like‘ Milosevic. As we happen to learn, for the time being, very little as been established to convict the former Serbian leader, a man who was repeatedly presented to us as a mass murderer. Again, I am far from being judgmental here, I just follow the legal proceedings against these two ‘Hitler-like’ ex-tyrants.
Here we come across the beauty and strength of religious belief. It is always flourishing in the regions of blindness. You can indeed love God as long as you cannot see him. You can join the party and hate Saddam as long as you know very little about him or Iraq. Worshipping and hatred alike are blind tendencies. Similarly, the strength of Auschwitz is due to its incomprehensibility. Auschwitz is feasible as long as it infeasible. Auschwitz is the modern-day burning bush, it is counterfactual. You can believe in it as long as you cannot comprehend it, as long as it doesn’t make sense, as long as it is beyond contemplation. Like a Holy Arc, you would follow it in the desert just because you aren’t allowed in. Auschwitz is the sealed sacred secret of the Anglo-American emerging religion. It is the unseen face of God delivered in a form of personal accounts. Once you question it, you challenge the future of Anglo-American life on this planet. Once you question Auschwitz, you become a modern-day Antichrist. Instead of doing that, you are highly recommended to kneel down and to approve the newly emerging burning bush mythology.
Within the Jewish orthodox apparatus history in general and Jewish history in particular are totally redundant. Simply, there is no need for such an intellectual endeavour, the Bible is there to set the Judaic thinking parameters. Judaically speaking, Saddam, Chmelnisky, Hitler and even Arafat are nothing but a mere repetition of the horrendous Biblical Amalek. With the Bible in place, there is no need to question the empirical and forensic validity of the different burning bushes and the Holy arcs. The Jewish belief is based on blind acceptance. To love God is to obey his rules. To be a Jew is never ever to question the fundaments. Apparently, there is no Jewish Theology. Instead, Jews have their Talmud: a collection of laws and rules. This perception is far from being stupid. It is rather logical and consistent. If God is indeed a supreme transcendental entity that exceeds any notion of space and time, then man is doomed to fail in comprehending him anyway. Thus, rather than philosophising on fundaments, Rabbis are mainly concerned with regulations. They are there to say what is Kosher and who is a sinner. Similarly, within the newly emerging Anglo-American religion, no one is supposed to raise questions concerning the Holocaust or WWII. Moreover, no one is supposed to ask what freedom, liberty, human rights and democracy really mean. The question of whether or not we are free beings is far too philosophical. Rather than suggesting an answer, we are confronted with the Rabbinical icons Blair and Bush who restrict of our freedom all in the name of freedom.
Let’s leave the Iraqis out. Are we, the so-called West, liberated? Within the new Israelite Western religion, blindness is the way forwards. On the face of it, the complexity of the WWII narrative with its contradictions and discrepancies just contributes to its magical, fantastic and supernatural qualities. We better learn to accept the Hollywood take on WWII rather than adopting some silly sceptical approach. Indeed, it is the contradictions and discrepancies that turn the Holocaust into a vivid human story shaped as a religion. It is the inconsistencies that turn the Holocaust into a modern-day burning bush. Let’s face it, you cannot see God but you can clearly hear the voice of democracy and freedom echoing from within the cloud of smoke. Indeed the political is what is left out of that which was personal at one time.
With their trousers halfway down I can see these three outlaws: Irving, Zundel and Rudolf, the three rightwing historical revisionists who happen to be locked behind bars. They are surrounding our precious shrine, rudely they are pissing over our emerging democratic miracle. Vulgarly, they question the validity of the personal narrative; foolishly they aim at establishing a rational, dynamic, lucid empirically grounded narrative based on forensic evidence. The three criminals are applying logical-positivistic methods. Pathetically, they follow the tradition of Carnap, Popper and the Vienna Circle. I wonder whether they realise that they happen to follow an academic tradition set by a Jewish secular Germanic school. Those ugly revisionists are aiming at truth-values, correspondence rules, empiricism. Shame on them, let them rot in hell. They fail to see that the West has moved forward. Listen you revisionists, you missed the train, we aren’t scientific anymore, we aren’t even technological. We are now deeply religious and we aren’t even theological about it. We are Evangelical, we take things on their face value and don’t ask me whose face is it. We want to believe. We are now religious and we will make sure that you do not interfere.
Rather than suggesting a preferable historical narrative, I aim at grasping what history is all about. What are the conditions of the possibilities of any knowledge of the past? I am not an historian and I am not intending to be one, I am interested in the conditions that shape the historical narrative. When it comes to the history of the 20th century, we are locked within a strict tale that was imposed on us by the winners. True, history is the tale of the winners and yet the winners were and still are: capitalist, colonialist and imperialists. The question to be asked is how come the European left that traditionally opposed the above, tended to blindly buy the twisted tale of those ‘colonialist’ ‘capitalist’ winners? I assume that the fact that Stalin was amongst the winners has something to do with it. The fact that the left was itself chased by Hitler is probably another reason. Yet, USSR is itself part of our past, Stalin is gone and Leftists aren’t chased by Hitler anymore. The European left is now entitled to think freely. Supposedly we are now at liberty to re-view our knowledge of the past, we are entitled to re-ask questions and to try to re-solve some major discrepancies to do with WWII. I am not talking here about a truthful historical account, because unlike David Irving and his bitter academic opponent Richard J. Evans, I do not know what historical truth is. But I do understand what narrative is and I even realise what consistency means. I argue that not only are we entitled to revise history, we must do so and I will mention two reasons: A). If the left or what is left of it, won’t jump into this boiling swamp, WWII history and Holocaust scholarship will be left in the hands of the European radical right (politically and academically). I tend to believe that at large, this is already the case. While left academics are mainly concerned with signalling out Holocaust deniers telling us what is right and who is wrong, it is the revisionists who engage themselves in detailed archive work as well as forensic scrutiny. B). Those who dropped bombs over Dresden and Hiroshima have never stopped killing in the name of democracy. They are now engaged in a murderous occupation of Iraq and they are even planning to expand to Syria and Iran. If we want to stop them, we better re-visit our past and revise our image of Anglo-American democracy. We must re-arrange the 20th century. For the sake of a better future we must revise the past.
It is rather clear that at least from an Anglo-American perspective Hitler wasn’t the enemy. Stalin, the Communist tyrant, was their real foe. Hitler had a very precise role. He was there to bash the eastern Communists on behalf of the West, he was there to flatten the Reds and so he did for a while. This may explain why no one in the West really tried to stop Hitler in the 1930’s. From an Anglo-American point of view, the moustached man fitted in rather nicely. It may explain why Hitler himself didn’t eradicate a third of the British army in Dunkirk. Why should he? These British soldiers were his allies to come. May I suggest that the fact that Hitler was actually serving Western interests explains why the Americans who joined the war in 1942, didn’t engage with him in a battle over central Europe until June 1944. Rather than fight Hitler in the main ground, they engaged in battles in North Africa and in Southern Italy. The reason is simple: They wanted Hitler to exhaust Stalin. They didn’t want to jeopardise his holy mission. Once Hitler lost his 6th Army in Stalingrad, the Western perception of Hitler’s role changed dramatically.
Once it was clear that Hitler was losing to Stalin, there was a necessity to keep the Reds as far as possible from the British channel. Though the Allies presented themselves as the liberators of France, in fact they were raiding the beaches of Normandy speeding up to stop Stalin in central Europe. This may explain the devastation the Allies left behind them in Normandy. Liberators hardly slaughter the liberated, Anglo-Americans are apparently different.
From mid-1943, the Allies enjoyed air superiority over Germany and yet, rather than dismantle the German army and it logistic targets, they concentrated on carpet-bombing German towns, killing hundred of thousands of innocent civilians with phosphorus bombs. After the war, Albert Speer was quoted saying that considering the Allies’ air superiority, a bombardment of German industrial infrastructure and logistic targets would have resulted in German military collapse in less then two months. I assume that the military reason behind the Allies’ carpet bombardment is devastatingly simple. The Allies didn’t want to disturb the German Army that was fighting Stalin. Meanwhile, the Allies had many bombs and they had to drop them somewhere. Around 850,000 German civilians died in those murderous military operations.
Anglo-Americans do believe in attacking their enemies’ soft bellies. This is why British and Americans arrived at the war with tactic bombers (Lancaster, B-17 and B24). Within the Anglo-American tactical philosophy, heavy pressure of civilian population would benefit the offender. This may explain the fact that it was Churchill who was the first to use Blitz tactics, launching a heavy bombardment on Berlin in August 1940. In fact it was that move that led Hitler to retaliate and to divert Luftwaffe efforts from Britain’s southern airfields to London and other populated British cities (September 7, 1940). Indeed, it was Churchill’s cold decision that saved Britain from a Nazi invasion (Operation Sea Lion). Yet, we should never forget that it was Churchill who brought German retaliation to the British streets. This fact hardly finds its way into British history texts.
Within the victorious narrative, the use of atomic bombs was necessary in order to shorten the war. Within the Anglo-American narrative, nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki sounds almost like a humanitarian effort. Apparently, there is an historic chronological fact that doesn’t find its place into the English-speaking history curriculum. Two days after the Hiroshima bomb (August 6, 1945) the Soviets entered the war against Japan. It was that event which led the Americans to nuke Nagasaki just a day later. Clearly, the industrial liquidation of thousands of Japanese civilians was there to guarantee a rapid, unconditional Japanese defeat to the Americans and to them alone.
I tend to believe that the Holocaust narrative that is forcefully imposed on us all is there to silence some alternative interpretations of WWII events. I do believe that if we really want to stop Anglo-Americans from killing in the name of democracy we better re-open a genuine debate.
Stopping Bush and Blair in Iraq, stopping those warmongers from proceeding to Iran and Syria is a must. If history shapes the future, we need to liberate our perspective of the past, rather than arresting revisionists, we simply need many more of them. We must let go; we must Re-arrange the 20th century.