The discovery that anti-semitism, however much a barely meant social posture,
could in fact lead to the unspeakable results of the holocaust must have had a persuasive effect.
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Tom Gray
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2012 1:07 PM
Subject: Eliot as a man of his time

In reference to the anti-Semitism found in Eliot's writing, I have been doing some reading to satisfy a personal question about how Germany transformed itself from the NAZI state of WW2 to the open democracy of today. the history of the denazification period is very revealing about the genteel anti-Semitism that was prevalent at the time. There was an almost schizophrenic attitude. In the same person, there could be an idealism that demanded the eradication of the NAZIs but this could be a coupled with a sympathy for the educated NAZIs that they were dealing with and the accused NAZIs that they were dealing with and the accusation of what one British official called 'the dregs of the eastern ghettos'. Within one person there could be an idealistic need to eradicate NAZI hate coupled with an aversion to the Jewish culture. Eliot was a man of his time.
The remarkable thing about all of this is that the NAZI Germany of WW2 transformed itself into the open democracy of today in which, as one example, anti-Semitic attitudes are socially unacceptable. Similarly in my home country Canada, anti-Semitism was openly practiced in that period. How has society transformed itself in such a short period of time. From my reading on the history of the denazification effort, I gather that economic superiority of the open society make sit better suited to fulfilling the basic human needs of security and affluence then a closed authoritarian one. In my reading about the denazification period, I have seen a quotation for the 'The Threepenny Opera' by Berthold Brecht which reads "Erst kommt du Fressen, dann commt die Moral" or "First comes the eating and then the morality". The experience of the Weimar Republic conformed a preference in the German public for an authoritarian leader who could get things done and thereby fulfill their basic needs for security and affluence. The experience of the devastation of WW2 and the futility of great power war in an era of nuclear weapons similarly fuels the desire for the open society and its associated moral beliefs.
So the question about Eliot's anti-Semtism appears to me not to be a question about Eliot but a question about the nature of humanity. What is the real basis for the ideals that we espouse. Remember Rwanda happed in the 1990s with Bosnia just before. Sudan happened just a little while later. Cambodia happened in the 1970s.