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 -----
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.