Print

Print


Whilst your proposition I'm sure is a factor, Tom, I can't really agree
that it's the economic practicalities that drive the morality.

It's true that former senior and middle-management Nazis couldn't feasibly
be barred from running postwar Germany (hence the rather pragmatic
'de-Nazification' programme), just as former DDR state enterprise managers
couldn't feasibly be excluded from running things there following
reunification.

It's true, too, that a big part of the justification for the European Union
is to bind its members ever-closer economically and politically, and thus
mitigate the possibility of further wars in Europe.

But I can't really see how any of this *necessarily* has driven any big
changes in that which is and isn't morally acceptable. Rather, I think the
Holocaust stands as a shameful aberration of morality, collectively, just
as slavery and apartheid do, too.

Feasibility inevitably tempers morality, but the above spectacular evils
surely can't simply be explained-away by economic forces - sure it's far,
far more complicated than that.

On 14 May 2012 12:03, Tom Gray <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> It is true that the front line troops who had seen the death camps were,
> as a result, not overly concerned with the plight of hundreds of
> thousands of German POWs in internment camps. However as rear
> echelon units came up to administer Germany, the attitude changed. There
> was the idealistic impulse but there was also the practical question of how
> to administer the German economy and to feed and clothe the tens of
> millions of people who lived there along with the millions who were fled
> there from the Russians. There was an initial impulse to exclude all NAZIs
> from the administration and business but the reality was that this could
> not be done and at the same time have a functioning German economy. Couple
> that with the pervasive antisemitism among the educated classes and we
> have the comments about the "dregs of the eastern ghettos".
>
> It appears to me that it is not the experience of the holocaust
> and other mass murders that have eliminated anti-Semitism. Think
> of the reaction, at the time that they were occurring, of the educated
> Western political classes to Cambodia and
> Rwanda. There was indifference to the reports of mass murder. It
> was the experience of the devastation of WW2 and the fact that great power
> war was now futile as a matter of policy that provided he impetus for the
> open trading global economy that we have today. Domination and exploitation
> by war are no longer possible so we must learn to live together so that
> we can trade and be secure and affluent. The morality follows from this.
>  Discussions of the antisemitism prevalent in Eliot's time and our virtue
> because of the lack of it in our's should take this into account.
>
>   ------------------------------
> *From:* Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Sent:* Monday, May 14, 2012 12:46:45 AM
> *Subject:* Re: Eliot as a man of his time
>
> 
>  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.
>
> Peter
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Tom Gray <[log in to unmask]>
> *To:* [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.
>
>
>
>
>
>