Sunday, June 22, 2014

Another Shoah Trial

This week once again, an aging, enfeebled octogenarian was hauled away in chains to stand trial in Germany for enabling the holocaust. In a sealed indictment, Johann Breyer was indicted on 158 counts of “aiding and abetting in murder”  — one count for each of the 158 trainloads of Jews taken to the killing center at Auschwitz during a six-month span.

According to the New York Times, prosecutors do not believe they need to establish that Mr. Breyer “pulled any levers” at Auschwitz.  Andrea Foulkes, an assistant United States attorney, told reporters that it was only necessary to prove that he “made it possible for the killings to happen.”   

The Times article went on to parrot that, as part of their routine, the “Death’s Head” guards at Auschwitz were responsible for taking incoming prisoners from the trains for “selection” to the gas chambers and, from their positions at watchtowers and along the camp’s barbed-wire perimeter, for preventing escapes.  According to prosecutors this made Bryer  “complicit in the gassing of  216,000 Jews”

We have written before about this and are not about to go into at length again except to say that the entire spectacle is a disgrace and a sham that has nothing to do with justice.  On the contrary, courts of law are being turned into theaters of revenge for modern day autos de fe.

Of Tables & Platforms

Although it may not sound very grand, the bedrock of civilized law is notice and specificity — the requirement that criminal guilt be based on the commission of specified, particular acts which are published beforehand for all to see and know.

This principle dates back to the earliest days of the Roman Republic when “illegal” meant whatever judges said it was and ordinary life got reduced to a game of “act at your peril.”  The people tired of this and demanded that their rulers post the rules so that they could know what specifically was prohibited and punishable.

Ever since then inchoate or amorphous crimes such as disparaging the State or undermining the war effort have been regarded as manifestations of tyranny.

However, between specific and amorphous criminality there lies an intermediate category of crime consisting in accomplice liability.

 Under standard criminal law, a person can be guilty of aiding and abetting a crime if he does a specific act which enables the completion of another specific and discrete crime.  Knowingly serving as the get-away driver in a bank heist is a typical example of aiding and abetting a robbery.  The driver does not himself commit the taking at gun point but his act of driving does facilitate the commission or completion of the crime.  A taxi driver who unknowingly gives a ride to a bank robber is not an abettor much less the garage mechanic who services the taxis or the gun dealer who sold the gun used by the robber.

The concept of derivative liability is intuitively simple but problematic in practice.  Guilt depends, in the first instance, on proximate cause — how close a causal connection exists between the facilitative act and the crime.

It is with these principles in mind that Mz Foulkes explanations need to be assessed.

In saying that the prosecution did not need to show that Breyer “pulled any levers,”  Foulkes admitted that Breyer was not the actual perpetrator of any homicide and had done nothing which caused the death of another human being.   If the prosecutors had such evidence they would not be talking about not needing such evidence.

As such, the question becomes: what specific act did Breyer willfully and knowingly do, which act proximately facilitated any act of murder?   It is at this point that these prosecutions typically resort to vagaries and sophistical shuffling.  According to Foulkes, Breyer’s guilt is based on the fact that he “made it possible for the killings to happen.”

In so saying, Foulkes shifted the issue from doing a specific facilitative act to doing something which contributed to circumstances or conditions for a killing to take place.
Mz Foulkes explained that, as part of their routine, the [1] “Death’s Head” guards at Auschwitz were responsible for [2] taking incoming prisoners from the trains for “selection” to the gas chambers and, from their positions at watchtowers and along the camp’s barbed-wire perimeter, [3] for preventing escapes.

Guilt by Insignia

Walking through the shuffle step by step, it must first be noted,  that Foulkes’ reference to “Death’s Head” guards is blatant example of rhetorical spooking, the insinuation being that because Breyer was a “Death Head” guard he willfully enlisted and knowingly participated in “death.”

Before the whole matter collapses into a heap of Hollywood titillation, it bears pointing out the the so-called Toten-Kopf is a standard and universal military insignia.  In Germany, its use dates from the 18th century when it was used as the insignia of the cavalry.

It is also used by the Queen’s Lancers,

And by U.S. Marine Corps Force Recon units.

During the World War, it was used in Germany by both the Waffen SS (which were not camp units) and the Wachsturmbanne (which were).  During the period in question the various units of the SS, as a whole, underwent multiple reorganizations, reassignments and re-namings. The camps themselves were divided into categories and were administered by both differing and overlapping units.  Typically, camp perimeter and watch towers were overseen by a separate formation called the Guard Battalion, or the Wachbattalion.  Barracks, hospitals and killings were administered by other details.   Who did what, during which period, when and where is not a simple or self-evident issue. Guilt by Insignia is a cheap ploy aimed at spooking and insinuating.

In fact, guilt by insignia is an even cheaper version of the associative guilt that is normally resorted to in these prosecutions.   In previous cases, the prosecution has argued guilt by duty roster or job description -- the theory being that the defendant was a member of a unit whose general and routines duties included : falling in at 5:30 AM.,  cleaning latrines, standing guard duty, peeling potatoes, gassing Jews, sorting mail, vehicle maintenance.... etc.    Guilt by Insignia, efficiently steamlines the theory ... plus it just plain sounds guilty.

From, For,  and To

Proceeding from outright theatrics to what paltry facts are alleged, we are left to infer from Foulkes’ account that Breyer guarded a watch tower, with orders to prevent people from escaping.  How did that “make possible” anyone’s gassing?   Is it suggested that if he did not stand guard, no one would have been gassed?  Is it suggested that someone who was about to be gassed, broke loose, ran across the camp and was about to scale the barb wire, but for Mr. Breyer standing guard?

It is not even stated that he brought victims to the gas chambers.  What is stated in a badly constructed sentence is that he was “responsible for taking incoming prisoners from the trains for 'selection' to the gas chambers.

In other words, he lined them up on the platform where someone else made a selection of who was to be sent to the gas chambers and who was fit to work.  But Breyer himself made no selection for anything.

The reason for the awkward syntax goes back to the Ivan Demjanjuk prosecutions which began with the allegation that Demjanjuk laughed with glee as he accelerated the pedal of the diesel engine that generated the gas.  The  allegation then became that he had stuffed people into gas chambers and this in turn got turned into leading people to the gas chamber compound.  At last, the facilitative “fact” ended up being Demjanjuk’s having duties which included being a guard somewhere along the path from the railway platform to the gas chambers.

In Breyer’s case, Foulkes spares us the stuffing.  But she still herniates herself trying to scrounge up some act of  “leading to” something or other which led to death.  Thus we are subjected to  a “taking from / for  selection  to.”   Ah yes!  DOJ  Grammar, a new beast on the block.

The standard of account of the process is that “selection” was made upon arrival on the station platform.  The case boils down to the fact that Breyer was a guard in the area where arrivals were lined up for processing.  Foulkes' theory is rather like arguing that the bailiff in a courtroom where a death sentence is pronounced is guilty of “making possible” the defendant’s execution elsewhere, later, by someone else, at the court’s order.

The fallacy of the theory is illustrated by another famous platform case with which every American law student is unforgettably familiar.

 The Proximate Platform

In Palsgraff v. Long Island Railroad 248 N.Y. 339, 162 N.E. 99 (N.Y. 1928),    a passenger running to catch a train was assisted by a platform conductor who pushed him into the moving car.  The shove caused the passenger to drop a package which contained fireworks that exploded when coming into contact with the electric third rail.  The explosion caused a panic on the platform causing people to run helter skelter.  Either the explosion or the fleeing people knocked over a scale balance beam which fell on Miss Helen Palsgraff who sued the railroad for personal injuries.

The Platform on which Helen Palsgraff got Bonked
As a physical causative matter, it was indisputable that but for the shove the beam would not have fallen.  The conductor had triggered a chain of events that culminated in the injuries suffered by Mrs. Palsgraff.   But that, the court held, was not enough; the harm to Mrs. Palsgraff had to be direct and foreseeable as to her.  In other words, although there was a causal connectivity, it was not proximate to injuries to Mrs. Palsgraff.

Although Palsgraff was a negligence case, the American rule is that criminal liability requires more than mere negligence.  In these camp-cases, by contrast, liability is based on even less than what would be required to show actionable negligence.

It is not claimed that Breyer pulled any levers.  It is not alleged that he led anyone to the gas chambers.  It is not argued that he selected who was to be sent to death.  The prosecution does not even bother to specify how many people in each of the 158 railway cars were actually killed.  It is asserted only that he stood guard on a chaotic platform where a selection for work or death was made by some other person; and this assertion conveniently ignores that Breyer just as much assisted in the "selection for work" and therefore by the same wholesale logic is guilty of saving from death as least as many as he vicariously killed. 


The spuriousness of the argument is total. There is not the slightest attempt to argue that standing guard was a proximate cause of any death.  The lack of proximate cause is fudged and obscured by the tricking phrase “made possible.”   Of course it made it “possible” in the way that a horseshoe nail “makes possible” the battle in which the cavalryman charges.

By this line of spurious reasoning, anyone who contributed to the general operation of the camp is guilty of murder: the station attendant at the railway junction, the engineer who drove the locomotive, the guard who opened the box car door, the cook who peeled potatoes in the kitchen, the supply clerk who delivered cabbages —  all of these people made the camp possible and thus, supposedly, the killings at the camp.  The prosecution’s case against Breyer is simply guilt by association

Foulkes’ sophistry runs rough-shod over a plethora of other facts bearing on knowledge and intent.  Was this 17 year old guard drafted or had he enlisted?  At the time he enlisted did he know he would be assigned to a camp and if so did he know about the killings taking place there?  Was he attracted by some sort of recruitment poster which said  “Join the SS and See Gassings in Exciting Foreign Lands!”  Once enlisted and assigned what alternatives did he have not to “make possible” 260,000 killings?  

By the prosecution’s perverted reasoning, every soldier at Bagram or Abu Grahib  is guilty of water-boarding which his presence “made possible.”  Every Israel soldier who arrests a Palestinian child is guilty of the abuse the child suffers in IDF detention.  Is this Justice Department willing to prosecute our own on this basis?

It is quite appropriate to recall that in the waning days of the World War, people were hanged from lamp posts in Berlin for treasonous negativism. In one notorious case a man was executed for “stealing” a bar of soap found on the sidewalk following an air raid.  The court ruled that by doing so he had “undermined the war effort” by contributing to the disorder and damage of the air raid.

This is not justice.  It is bullshit.  Whenever theories of amorphous criminality raise their ugly head tyranny and scapegoating are not far behind.

Memorialization and Monstrance

In addition to specificity, civilized concepts of justice are framed within two reflecting principles: forgetfulness and finality.

The doctrine of finality is that there comes a time to put an end to proceedings regardless of the merits of the case.  Although society has an interest in seeing that injustices get corrected, it also has an interest in not beating dead horses forever.  Nothing human is perfect and an endless pursuit of perfect justice gives no rest.  There is a time to let a judgement stand even if it is wrong.

Correlatively, there comes a time past which it is too late to open old wounds.  Thus, statutes of limitations put a time limit as to when a case can be brought, even in the case of murder most foul.  There is a time to forgo prosecution even if it means letting a possibly guilty person escape.

These two principles are essential to justice.  Just as a mathematically perfect scale sounds awful, finality and forgetfulness temper justice so that it is commensurate with our inner sense of fairness.

But mercy got trashed in 1979 when the West German Government, under intense pressure from the United States and American Jewish organizations abolished the statute of limitations for murder, which had existed since the 19th century.

The arguments advanced by the proponents of abolishing the statute of limitations were cut from the same cloth as the theory of aiding and abetting genocide.  

The Union of American Hebrew Congregations argued that “it would be unconscionable to close the door on future prosecution while some of the perpetrators of history's greatest crime have still not had to answer for their deeds.” (Letter July 1979.)

This argument was a patent sophistry which smudged over the fact that there is no individual perpetrator of history’s greatest crime.

Let us parse the statement. The object of the quoted sentence is something called “history’s greatest crime” presented as a unitary thing of near limitless magnitude.  The object called to mind is: a big, big, big, big, ultra big, gigantic BAD THING.

But this “BIG BAD THING” is simply an abstract term of convenience.  Genocide is a single thing only in the sense of it being a collective phenomenon the parts of which share certain features and effects in common. The actuality of the phenomenon only comes into being through a multiplicity of discrete acts which are to varying extents disconnected in actual fact.  This is why it is said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  A genocide is a confluence of details in which, past a certain threshold, an accretion of quantity results in a qualitative change in kind.

It is legitimate, for historical purposes, to speak of a genocide even if that “fact” encompasses thousands or millions smaller facts.  But courts of law do not try history.  They try individuals for individual acts done.   Putting aside the very few, high ups who may have planned the entire enterprise, no ordinary individual could possible be the perpetrator of a genocide.
The statement by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations shuffles over this inconvenience by referring to the perpetrators (plural) of the greatest crime (singular).  That is a technically correct syntax. The ambiguity arises from the adjective “some” which means at least one or any single one in an indeterminate number of persons.  The word “some” singularizes the subject so that the sentence ends up saying that there are “some” individuals out there who are responsible for the greatest crime.
The argument then goes on confuse the magnitude of the crime considered in the aggregate with the guilt of the individual considered discretely. The crime is so huge there can be no limit for it and therefore no limit for any small part a small individual may have played within it.  The argument pure scapegoating because it heaps a collective wrong — the sum total of all the wrongs committed — onto the back of (some) single individuals.

Thus parsed it can be seen that the present day prosecution of Breyer and the original “justification” for abolishing the statute of limitations are two sides of the same coin.  The aim and object was to hunt down hapless individuals who could then be publicly scapegoated for “the holocaust”.  The Union of Hebrew Congregations explained it this way:

"the prosecution of Nazi criminals serves as a valuable means by which to remind the world of the horrors of the Holocaust and to challenge those would deny or willingly forget the past."
Read the sentence again.  It says nothing about “making sure justice is done” rather it justifies criminal prosecution as means to remind people of the Holocaust.

This is like saying that the bank robber is prosecuted in order to remind everyone that a robbery was committed.

This memorializing function is further underscored by the complete absence of any deterrent justification.  The sentence does not say that prosecution is necessary to prevent future holocausts from happening.  It says that prosecution serves the as a means “to challenge those who would deny or forget the past.”

In other words, courts of law — the judicial power of the state — are to be used as argumentum in vivo to silence those who do not assent to an official version of history and to keep the image of barbed wire, starvation, crematoria and death ever before people’s eyes, like some sort of goulish monstrance.

Words are given to man to say what he means and that is what those words say.  It may not be what the listener wants to hear; but that is what the words say.  Nor was it anything just said by an ad hoc association of rabbis.

In tandem with the successful campaign to remove Germany’s statute of limitation, the same pressure groups got the United States Congress to set up the Office of Special Investigations in the Justice Department.  The legislated purpose of the OSI was spearhead investigations and prosecutions of so-called war-criminals. 

On its  OSI page  the Department of Justice proudly adds that,

“As a result of OSI’s record in identifying, investigating and denying refuge in the United States to Nazi persecutors, the United States is the only country in the world to have won the “A” rating from the Simon Wiesenthall Center for effectiveness in pursuing justice for Holocaust crimes.”
In other words, the unending prosecution of these crimes has nothing to do with making individual victims whole; it has nothing to do with re-establishing the King’s peace; it has nothing to do with deterring future perpetrators of a holocaust.

No — the machinery of justice is to be used as a “means” to remind the world of how awful the Holocaust was and to combat the blasphemy of holocaust-denial.  It is an auto de fe in modern form.

There is a fine and unfortunately all too permeable line between retribution and expiation.  The overall purpose of justice is to restore a wrong and to deter future misconduct.  Justice seeks to put things right by providing some equivalent compensation for an injury. The doing of restorative justice is in itself a deterrence in that it demonstrates that there is nothing to be gained by the misconduct in question.  Where such deterrence is not possible or is insufficient, deterrence is achieved by the infliction of a commensurate loss or punishment.

Thus viewed, it can be seen that the sine qua non of justice is the existence of a victim, some particular person who was hurt and who can be compensated or vindicated.  Even when the crime is against “the King’s Peace” there is an actual, concrete victim involved.

Things get tenuous when a person is prosecuted for crimes in which the “victim” is some concept of general welfare or some “potential” for a foreseeable harm that has not actually materialized.

Things tip into hell when the victim or the “offended party” is some deity or some socially mandatory belief or  memory.  At that point the so-called doing of justice is not restoration but expiation to and before an wrathful god.

The perversion involved in the Autos of the Inquisition, was that they actually denied the Expiation they were supposedly vindicating.

For Christians the “horrors of the Crucifixion” serve as a remembrance of Christ’s expiation of our sins.  The fundamental idea is that by suffering a completely unjust punishment, God himself atoned for our sinful human condition, expiated our wrongs and set us forever free, no longer burdened by guilt.  One need not believe any of this, of course; but that is premise of Christianity.   By demanding a further expiation in the name of that Expiation which was supposedly offered once and for all, the Inquisition turned a forgiving god back into a vengeful one.

The god of the Union of Hebrew Congregations is vengeful from the start.  The word holocaust is a liturgical term for a fully burnt sacrifice of atonement.  The idea was that, instead of partaking in the succulent fat of a lamb, your "feast at the table" consisted in eating ashes.    Those who employ this term in reference to Nazi genocide have never been very clear as to what the millions of Jewish victims were atoning for by their deaths. 

Be that as it may, the proponents of these prosecutions never argue that acknowledging the holocaust serves as an atonement on our behalf or that its horrors provided a redemption which allows us to forgive, forget and be free.  Unlike the Inquisition, there is no perversion of a redemptory concept because, from start to finish, the unadulterated motive involved is one of perpetuating guilt and shame. Unlike the Crucifixion which transcends itself into a Resurrection, nothing is offered except a form of sorrow and remorse which, we are told, should never be denied or challenged.  And, in order to keep this eternal sorrow alive, it is necessary to find some pathetic human sacrifice to served up to the Nightmare.

It is stupidly said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.  Only an American dimwit could come up with the idea of history as a User Manual of Avoidable Mistakes.  Memory is not looking back or a retrieval of the past; it is a present composition made with elements we select and arrange. We are doomed to repeat history when we forget our humanity and we forget our humanity when we fail to forgive the wrongs we hold on to.   It was for this reason that Christ said Let the Dead Bury the Dead  (Luke 9:60) and that to love one's neighbour as one's self is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices (Mark 12:33).

Nazi labour and extermination policies were among the darkest episodes in human history.  Still, nothing but mold grows in the shade; we either move on into light or we don’t.  These Shoah Trials are not only a perversion of justice they are a passive aggressive pseudo-religion that blasphemes against the better angels of our nature.

 ©WCG 2104

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Beast is Us.

Gratuitous Horrors

Unlike most people, we never liked horror movies or, for that matter, roller coasters.  The notion of scaring your own pants off always struck us as a non-starter.  Fear, while a useful and at times life-saving emotion, is better left avoided.

Likewise, pictures of mutilated, decomposed, helpless or writhing bodies struck us as completely useless.  In real life, if the victim is alive, the feeling of horrified pity might at least induce us to do something to relieve the suffering.  But to be rendered horrified and helpless strikes us as a form of auto-torture; for horror is a species of vicariously induced agony.   

Such considerations naturally make one wonder if the Crucifix itself serves any purpose, since the image of a bloodied, agonized Christ is nothing we can do anything about and are left simply to feel bad about it.  That is an interesting question which, for the present, shall be avoided.

Certainly, however, if I were to post images of the Crucified Christ on my Facebook wall, people would probably think I had gone nuts and would, I suspect, rather rapidly tire of it.  “Gibson is a psychopath.”

But no one seems to think twice about pasting pictures of starving dogs, tortured pigs, mutilated elephants and other evidence of man’s appalling and revolting cruelty to fellow animals.  

What’s the point?  I wish people would not do this because there is nothing I can do about it.  Feelings of helpless horror don’t do much for me or for the poor creature.

It seems to me that the posting of such pictures is a form of reverse-voyeurism — a kind of “You-see, Me-see” thing.

It is likely the case that the picture of the starving dog, tortured pig or mutilated elephant first got published by way of some sort of cause-advertisement — “SAVE THE_______" and “STOP THE______”

The purpose of the horrible picture is to induce some sort of “political action” — usually in the form of a donation or petition signing.  The purpose of the person posting the picture on his or her Facebook wall is thus, to “spread the advertising.”  This gives the posting-act a patina of social or political usefulness.  But, on further consideration, this too is pointless.

 Gathering Signatures.  Getting Listed

We have written before about the flood of worthy causes which clog our “walls” and “email” boxes.  In any given day I must receive two or three exhortations to sign, subscribe or donate. 

If I take any action, I immediate get listed.  My name gets added to an automated cause-generator that floods my box (or wall) with updates, more petitions to sign and more requests for money.  One can very easily become embroiled in a hopeless a toil of causes, with no end

The tale of a hapless well-meaning man who became imprisoned in his own bottomless pit of email petitions and updates would make a nice Kafkaesque story.  

Seeing the negative potential for such a thing, I have established multiple “shell email” accounts that have nothing to do with me.  That way, I can send Senator So and So a simple supportive e-mail regarding a particular issue and not worry about the flood of messages from Senator SoSo that have nothing to do with me but which would invariably cascade, Niagra-like, into “my” email account.  Periodically, I go into the account and mass-delete the accumulated gunk.

That may serve as a practical solution to the issue of unwanted email, but it doesn’t do much to solve the problem of unwanted gruesome posters appearing on my “wall”.  Nor does it answer the question of why any of us sign any of these things in any case.  As we have written before, petitions are pointless.

Like legions of others, I want to feel that I can do a thing or two that is politically useful.  I sign my name to a petition in the hope that a “swelling chorus of voices” will become a “tidal wave of pressure” which will in turn induce those who are in power to... save the whale, stop the torture, protect the forest, rescue the bee, stop the poisoning... and so on.

But in actual fact, there is no “tidal wave” of anything.  Politicians (as well as the corporations they whore to) have systems for deflecting emails just as much as they have systems for generating updates.  The same computer which floods my box with Senator SoSo’s “news” also judo flips me away with pre-packaged responses,

Dear Mr. Hadley,

Thank you very much for writing to me with your concerns about the West Tennessee spotted owl.  The preservation of our natural resources for our children and grand-children is a priority for me as well, and I want you to know that.....
I must be a complete imbecile to think that anything I write to Senator SoSo gets more than a quick buzz-word once over from a summer intern clerk.

“Politics” — at least the politics the public is involved in — is disembodied, ethereal phenomenon of the sort Stanislaus Lem might have written about.  Politics is in fact, part of the atmospheric hallucinogens floated about to surround us with illusions of participation.

Let us approach the matter from a slightly different angle.

A person confronting the Medusa or in the toils of a giant squid will, quite naturally, hack away at the tentacle or face that most immediately confronts him.  That is, after all, the danger that actually grasps him. 

But of course, the whole point of Laocoon or Medusa, is that the tentacles or faces are but manifestations of a central core, the creature itself.  The entire message of the metaphor is that the appearances are not the underlying causes. 

It is pointless to hack away at the head or the tentacle because another one will just appear to do the job.  If one wants to free himself from the beast, he has to kill the beast.  Punto y final.  Point simple.

This is the problem I have had with petitions and causes.  Supposing everyone one of them to be worthy, none of them is the real issue.  The real issue is the system which generates each and everyone of those horrors.

Politicians and corporations are in fact manifestations of the problem, so addressing petitions to them is about as useful as begging your torturer not to tighten the rack.  Even supposing your torturer would listen, each “case” is only a chip in a vast mosaic of depredations.  It is the icon itself that must be blasted to smithereens.

It amazes me that people do not see this.  Was not human reason given to us so that we could detect underlying and unifying causes?  What makes anyone think that solving one, seven, or even twenty out of 10,000 injustices, outrages and problems is going to solve “anything”.  It won’t.

This, as we have expressed before, is the problem with what Americans call the “left”.  “Liberalism” so called is simply self-indulgence expressed in a political form.  My Issue, My Cause (saith I) for the Common Good.

Even such supposedly “radical” organs such as Socialist Worker, are filled with protest-articles about  Black Women hotel workers, Gay Marriage, Poultry Pollution in Arkansas, Football without FIFA, Deportation Detentions, "Socialist Feminism,”  Foetus Flushing Rights, “Support Ramsea Odeah” (who?) and Ebonics as Cultural Expression... whatever.   Quite marvelously, after slicing and dicing the core issue into a hundred manifestations, Socialist Worker then goes on to print an op ed entitled “Why Localism isn’t the Solution.”

To make matters worse, for every sub-issue the “left” manages to come up with to rally the faithful, that same issue manages to antagonize an equal number of non-faithful.  Such for example, is the “Left’s” ridiculous crusade of Fundamentalist Atheism, which only manages to gratuitously inflame the prejudices of the vast majority of people. 

Of course, the “right” is no better.  The only difference is that whereas the “left” does the dicing by way of un-focused incompetence, the “right” serves up multiple false issues for the very purpose of distracting people from fundamental causes. 

Either way, what passes for “politics” in most countries and certainly in the United States is analogous to a child sitting in its play pen and playing with different colored alpha-blocks.  Oh wonder of wonders!  The child might one day, accidentally, spell “C-A-T” and therefore (???) learn something.

The Heart of the Beast

All of which brings us at last to the Heart of the Beast. If anyone wants to do away with cornucopia of cruelties and depredations which afflict the world, he must destroy the mode of production which produces those cruelties and depredations.  Our present political economy must be completely extirpated and gutted out from top to bottom. It is as simple as that, and nothing else will work. 

Anyone who thinks that he or she can hold onto their car, their computer, their house, their favorite dentist and still produce the change required is living a liberal fantasy.

But beneath this bottom, there is yet another; one which we are convinced is even more ominous.

A political economy can only exist in accordance with the underlying material conditions which bring it forth.  To illustrate:  it would make no sense whatsoever to “impose” Germany’s political economy on Amazonian tribes.  Those tribes exist at a social and technological level which has literally no relation to “post-modern industrialism”.

In a word: our current global economy is an expression of the demographics which both necessitate it and off of which it feeds

Let us return to the matter of poor tortured pigs.  Bacon from pasture raised pigs costs about $10.00 a pound.  Such a cost is prohibitive to the vast majority of U.S. denizens.  But even if they could afford it, there is simply not enough land to produce pasture-raised bacon for a population of 300 million devouring egg’s n’bacon every morning.   Nor for that matter is there enough land for scratch raised eggs. 

It is perfectly true that the sacks-of-shit in human form that own and run our food factories are committing their depredations for the sake of profit.  But that is a separate issue.  It is equally true that the sheer masses of people who currently exist require factory food for their survival because no other mode of production can meet the demand.

Extrapolate the issue from eggs n’ bacon to every other commodity needed by people to survive from shoes to toothbrushes to vaccinations, and it can be seen that underlying the “cause” of a mode of production is the demographics which allows and requires that mode of production. 

In short, the Beast is Us.

Near twenty years ago we wrote the Examiner,

"From an ecological point of view, overpopulation is a disaster no matter where it occurs or spills over.  The frenzied effort to sustain a species which is proliferating out of control leads to deforestation, slash and burn agriculture, depletion of fisheries, extermination of wildlife and mammoth industrialization projects which blow up everything in sight and then fill the air toxic poisons.  It is utter nonsense to think of these ecological holocausts as somehow "local".   ....  How much more writing on the wall do we need?

"Regardless of whatever socio-economic system we choose to adopt, the plain fact is that the human race needs to be halved -- across the board.  Short of destroying the magnificence of God's creation and turning the earth into some hellish factory, the planet simply cannot sustain 6 billion of us.  The only equitable and humane solution I can think of is a global reproduction lottery designed to redress the imbalance in two generations.  It is a drastic and Malthusian remedy, but only then will future generations have the chance of a decent life in a planet worth living on."   (Letter to the Editor (Examiner) 1997 October 18.)

Needless to say, our epistle got tossed into the “crazies bin”.

Well... now we may have been “crazy” but look at who was STUPID.  STUPID, DENSE, THICK, OBTUSE as it is possible for a supposedly sentient creature to become.   An ox has more brains than a journalist.  It was this that led us to start this blog on the premise that it was better to shout into the wind than to shout into a trash can.

Now as then, is what is needed is a massive triage of the human race.  The alternative is a Factory Planet, producing ever more pathetic resemblances of pseudo food, and scarcities of everything else for a debased and near moronic mass of desperate, depraved, degenerate humans.

Now just as people don’t see the cause behind the unitary hyrdra head that confronts them, they also refuse to admit the consequences beyond the image of the little darling they spawned and cherish with all their hearts.

Every human being loves his and her child more than anything else and therefore cannot conceive of anything that would implicate an end to his own self-perpetuation.  “Reduce the population” is subliminally equated with “Slaugher of the Innocents.”  The person who advocates population reduction is lucky if he is merely laughed to scorn.

Of course, it will never happen.  Humans will never agree to impose a birth lottery which limits the total amount of babies which can be produced for the next century.  Nor, will they readjust the political economy so that it is centralized and planned to work on a basis that does not require exponential growth and consumption.

I am quite convinced that the will to put into effect the radical overhaul needed to save ourselves and the planet as we know it does not exist.  

Mother Nature may save us; but she will not be kind about it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Atavism & Freedom

In a sterling example of ethnic-fetishism, the New York Times has carried a front page story announcing that former (†) "Cardinal O’Connor’s Mother Was Jewish.” 

In a later edition, the editors upped the ante, to proclaim that the Cardinal’s grandfather was a rabbi... on his mother’s side, of course.

Now, the article didn’t explicitly anoint the cardinal as Jewish but that was its unmistakable import.  It quotes the cardinal’s sister as saying:

The basic fact is, my mother was Jewish,  That means my two brothers were Jewish, my sister was Jewish and I am Jewish.”  
Uh huh... and on what is this “basic fact” based?  Per the Times, on none other than “the Jewish matrilineal tradition.”   Uh huh.  So it’s a matter of “you’re Jewish because we say you are, whether you like it or not” ?

Since when do the idiosyncratic choices and doctrines of one cult become elevated into some form of incontestable fact?   This sounds rather like forced baptism to me.

I throw water on you while mumbling some words in Latin and, mirabilis dictu! (literally) this means you are Christian and there ain’t nothing you can do about it? 

Attentive readers might have noted the fudging rolled into the phrase “Jewish matrilineal tradition.”  In fact, there is a patrilineal tradition as well and the “rule” that a person is Jewish if born of a Jewish mother is a relatively recent Talmudic gloss on the Torah. It is nothing chiseled in stone.

Much less is it chiseled in anything else, other than an external locus of control and the doctrinal idiosyncrasies of one cult among others.  Under Catholic doctrine,  birth from a Jewish mother signifies nothing and doesn’t make one anything.  And yet, the Times pronounces on O’Connor’s “Jewishness” as if it were an incontestable fact, even though he was unconscious of it and never practiced that faith. 

Apparently, in the Timesweltanschauung Talmudic law trumps everything else, even in the matter of Catholic cardinals.

Okay... let’s play this game a little longer. According to Stormfront, Marx was “a Jew” notwithstanding that both his parents were Lutheran and he was raised within the established German Church before renouncing all religion altogether.  Supposedly the Times would agree.

But why stop at Marx?  So too was St. Theresa de Avila, a doctor of the Church!  Why, even Torquemada was of converso Jewish descent.  They may convert, they may forget, but

"The source of national feeling ...lies in a man's blood his racio-physico type and in that alone. ...A man's spiritual outlook is primarily determined by his physical structure. For that reason we do not believe in spiritual assimilation. It is inconceivable, from the physical point of view, that a Jew born to a family of pure Jewish blood can become adapted to the spiritual outlook of a German or a Frenchman.  He may be wholly imbued with that German fluid, but the nucleus of his spiritual structure will always remain Jewish."  [1]

No; that’s not Hitler.  It’s Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, the parent organization of the present day Likud Party in Israel.

What Hitler himself said was,

"It is not however by the tie of language, but exclusively by the tie of blood that the members of a race are bound together. And the Jew himself knows this better than any other, seeing that he attaches so little importance to the preservation of his own language while at the same time he strives his utmost to maintain his blood free from intermixture with that of other races. A man may acquire and use a new language without much trouble; but it is only his old ideas that he expresses through the new language. His inner nature is not modified thereby. The best proof of this is furnished by the Jew himself. He may speak a thousand tongues and yet his Jewish nature will remain always one and  the same." [2]

Don’t bark at my door if Jabotinsky and Hitler are in agreement.  Their words speak for themselves; as does the crapola from the New York Times.  I’m just pointing out the nakedness.

Let’s examine the matter still a little further to see what is at issue in the Times’ insinuating gambit.

Although they used slightly different terminology, both Jabotinsky and Hitler posit a distinction between body and soul — between racio-physical structure and spirituality, between innate blood and acquired language.  There is nothing inherently fallacious in the distinction; it’s simply the old “nature versus nurture” polarity.

What is questionable, however, is their espousal of racio-physical determinism — the further proposition that “blood type” is irreversibly determinative of character.  Hitler and Jabotinsky both go beyond holding that “nature” predisposes or influences.  They adapt the Darwinian doctrine criminal types so as to apply it collectively to “races” or ethnic groups as a whole.   They assert categorically that blood determines all and therefore “once a Jew always a Jew.

Now, to speak of matrilineal descent is to speak of something physiological. Again, it does not matter whether one speaks in terms of “blood” or “genes” or “DNA” — the reference is the same: birth in the flesh of a mother. One cannot get more “racio-physico” than that.  But the assertion that one’s character as a person derives from this “blood-fact” is the cornerstone of all racism.

It is probable that a person born of a Jewish mother will be raised in the Jewish faith, just as a person born of a Catholic or Muslim mother will most likely be raised in those religions.   But his emotional and intellectual information arises from his environment and upbringing; not from being issue of his mother’s blood.

If there is a “Jewish Gene” is there one for orthodox Jews and another one for reform Jews and still another one for atheist Jews, like Karl Marx?  How many different Jewish genes are there?  Or, as the Nazis believed, are they all  “basically” the same no matter what any one of them says, does or believes?  

What was it about Cardinal O’Connor that was somehow “typically” or “characteristically" Jewish? The Times article makes a point of noting that the cardinal was always “friendly” to Jews and was appalled by Dachau which he participated in liberating.  

Are we then to conclude that being “friendly” to Jews is a sign of crypto Jewishness?  Does O’Connor’s disgust at Dachau proceed from some inner latency of Jewishness that has nothing to do with his humanity as a Christian?

Why is the Times even howling at this moon?  Is it that desperate to find a “Jewish angle” on everything?

It is true that ethnic groups and races do bear physiological (and hence) genetic markers.  Black people tend to be... uh... black.  Japanese people have characteristic eye shapes, and so on.  It appears that susceptibility to certain diseases is genetically encoded, although the line between the causal effects of genetics and habit remains imprecise. 

It also appears that, among themselves, Ashkenazi Jews (until very recently) shared common genetic markers not shared with any other group.  But these markers were not a “Jewish Gene” because they were  not shared with Sephardic Jews.  In other words, the marker was the mark of a ethnic group as such from the Caucasus — of the “Ashkenazi” but not the “Jew.” 

I am certain that there is no “Buddhist Gene,”  no “Catholic Gene” and no “Jewish Gene” and, therefore, the fact that Cardinal O’Connor may have had a Jewish born mother is absolutely irrelevant to anything I am interested in. 

It ought to be nothing the Times should harp on either, because it points down a dark road. 

Atavism & Freedom

At"a*vism (#), n. [L. atavus an ancestor, fr. avus a grandfather.] (a) The recurrence, or a tendency to a recurrence, of the original type of a species in the progeny of its varieties; ...
It is not enough to point out that racial determinism is simply tribal atavism in modern form.  What is necessary to point out is how fundamentally incompatible such atavism is with Christian notions of redemption and Kantian concepts of Freedom.

The nuanced complexity of the subject may be illustrated by observing that Adam’s Sin is a protean form of atavism and that what Christianity proclaims is a breaking of this typological bond through redemption in Christ.  We can, as Kant would put it, at least believe in freedom.

And yet, at the same time, Saint Luke feels no evident embarrassment in harping on Jesus’s Davidic Descent, which is not only being born of a Jewish mother, but at least twelve of them in succession.  One supposes the Nicene Creed pre-steps this problem by proclaiming that Jesus was actually ex Patre natum ante ómnia sæcula.

Rather than deal with the issue on a juridico-metaphysical (!) level, it might be more useful to illustrate the matter (and the vileness of what the Times is doing) by recounting the tragicomic story of a German Non-Jew.

Victor Klemperer was another Christian born to Jewish parents in 1881.  His two brothers allegedly adopted Protestantism as a veil of convenience; but for Victor the conversion was, by his own account, sincere. In 1942 he wrote,

"I am German, the [Nazis] are un-German. I must hold on to it: The soul is what matters, not the flesh and blood. I must hold on to it: being a Zionist would sound funny to me, but my christening -- that was not funny, it was something very serious."

In so saying, Klemperer emphatically drew a distinction between himself and the Jabotinksy-Hitler duo. The difference was not simply over whether the soul mattered (or didn’t) but over whether man had actual and effective freedom to chose and to make his own character. Jabotinsky-Hitler denied man that power and asserted racial determinism.  Klemperer insisted on his freedom.

Klemperer’s assertion of freedom fit within the Christian tradition which has always accorded humans the power and the option to convert  — that is, to shape their being and choose their destiny.  But Klemperer was not just a traditional Christian. He was a Son of the Grundeszeit and his modernity took his conflict with the Nazis outside the somewhat trite mold of righteous martyrdoms.

For Christians (as indeed for just about any other faith), choice of religion is not a selection from a shelf of cultural options. It is rather a central choice from which other cultural facts flow as consequences.  The modern sociological view is just the inverse: “religion” is an artifact in a broader array of cultural “objects and attitudes.”
Klemperer was a modern man. His conversion to Lutheranism was an included part of a larger conversion to Germanism which, by the Grundeszeit, had become something of a social and political religion in itself, generally spoken of as Pan Germanism.

Klemperer loved Germany as an historical and cultural  phenomenon and as a gemeinschaft (“living community”). Germanhood was a mode of being, not a group-membership; and, in Klemperer’s educated mind, that mode was “spiritual” or, perhaps more precisely, that mode had its origin in the word.

To understand Klemperer, we have to go back to George Friedrich Herder, the idiosyncratic folk-philosopher of the late 18th century who basically defined Germanism for the 19th and half of the 20th.

At a time when “Germany” did not exist, Herder asked: What is a German anyway, given that Germans were split religiously, divided politically and varied economically.  For Herder, the answer was “German.”  It was he (not Sapir-Worf) who coined the idea that culture and national identity spring from language. 

Spit out the slime of the Seine,” he wrote, “speak German oh ye Germans!

Klemperer was a student and ultimately a professor of German literature.  Germany for him, was the nation of “poets and thinkers” and who else had molded the German language into what it was, other than Martin Luther?  It was all of a cloth. He loved an idea of Germany which was partly a subjective choice and partly informed by objective realities.

It would probably be more accurate to say that Klemperer fell in love the idea of Northern Germany; but this was the Grundeszeit and the North was in ascendance.

Nor, we might add, was Klemperer’s amour a literary conceit. Scharnhorst was as much part of the weave as Bach or Goethe.  When the War broke out, he volunteered and headed off to the battlefields where his courage earned him the Bavarian Cross of Merit.

For Klemperer, “becoming German” went beyond residencies, permits, and passports. It certainly went beyond affectations of convenience.  It entailed a chosen and distinguishable mode of being — analogous to to taking holy orders.

In a tragically ironic way, Klemperer would have made an ideal Nazi.  He desired to be one with the folk community and to be infused by it — “the will to be German,” as he put it.  The immersion of self into the volk gemeinschaft, was perhaps the core tenet of the “Movement.” 

But he and the Nazis broke asunder on the rock of language. For Klemperer language was everything; for the Nazis it was nothing. For them, albeit a Jew spoke German better than a Blood German, “his Jewish nature will remain always one and the same.”  The Nazis denied Klemperer the birthright to be German.  It was an "impossibility" because he had been born of a Jewish mother and (so they decreed) he could not choose otherwise but was forever trapped in his mother's womb. 

However, to say that Klemperer was at fundamental odds with the Nazis should not be confused with thinking that he would have ascribed to modern day multiculturalism.  Most emphatically not. Although Klemperer may have espoused the modern view of culture as encompassing (rather than flowing from) religion, he rejected the notion that true culture can be reduced to the level of incoherence, which is the now-prevailing American view.

Klemperer’s conception of being a German was ideologically and objectively informed.  “Will” did not mean one’s personal potpourri of cultural artifacts but rather one’s personal commitment to a habitus shared with others. Klemperer was not a “Cafeteria German” and concluded that Jewishness and German-ness were incompatibles.

"[E]ver since the experiences of Vienna and Prague, I no longer was convinced that Jewry and German-ness could, under any circumstances, get along with one another. But if, in any way, I have been forced in the past to make a choice, then German-ness meant everything to me and Jewry meant nothing."

I do not read Klemperer as agreeing that Jews were inferior or that they constituted a “bacillus.”  That would have been a separate and further judgement, one which he did not make.  What Klemperer meant was that “Jew” and “German” were each more than accidental labels. Each entailed substantive behaviors, attitudes and allegiances which were, in fundamental ways, not reconcilable  — a view, it might be noted, held by ultra-orthodox Jews themselves.

Because he had served with distinction in the Army and because he was also married to an Aryan German, Klemperer had two precarious protections against deportation and, not without dicey moments, survived the war as a civilian in Germany.  Nevertheless, despite his ardent will to be German, Klemperer was in truth the Nazis’ most fundamental opponent.  He understood that the crux of the matter went beyond anti-semitism and concerned the nature of man.

What is it that differentiates man from brutes?  According to Aristotle it is logos - the ability to utter articulate sounds and thereby  “to distinguish between the just and the unjust, the expedient and the inexpedient.” (Politiks, Bk. I, ch. 2.)  In short, to have knowledge of good and evil.  (Ibid.)

But this ability is not just a question of passive perceptions.  The power to conceptualize implies the power to choose; and so Aristotle goes on to say,

"For man, when perfected, is the best of animals but when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous ... Wherefore, if he have not virtue, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals. But justice is the bond of men in states... [and] the determination of what is just is the principle of order in political society." (Ibid.)

For Aristotle, “political society” is based on what we distinguish and choose, which is why he also defined man as a “speaking animal”  (zoon logikon).   But the ability to draw distinctions and thus to make political choices is also the ability to make personal ones.  It is from this Aristotelean premise that Immanuel Kant would say that although we may not be able to prove that true freedom exists, we can act as if we were free; and acting, become.

As for Catholics it was “sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea” (speak but the word and my soul shall be healed), so for Herder and Klemperer it was, “I speak therefore I am.”  In contrast, for Jabotinsky and Hitler, neither man nor God himself can change the “inner nature” of man. 
Most essentially, the freedom the Nazis took away was not the freedom to make anti-Hitler jokes, nor the freedom to strike, nor the freedom to join opposition parties. These are, in a sense, superficial deprivations.  What the Nazis took away, most radically, was the freedom to be German. 

Nazi denial of “conversions” went beyond religion and beyond the old and tiresome question of cryptic Jews.  For them it was not an issue of sincerity but of possibility.  Klemperer was denied conversion on the basis of the very fact that triggered his will to be German in the first place: his mother was Jewish.  He was ensnared in a self-justifying primordial atavism.

But Klemperer, who was nothing if not fearlessly honest, was as much at fundamental odds with the Zionists as with Nazis,

"To me the Zionists, who want to go back to the Jewish state of A.D. 70 are just as offensive as the Nazis. With their nosing after blood, their ancient "cultural roots," their partly canting, partly obtuse winding back of the world they are altogether a match for the National Socialists. That is the fantastic thing about the National Socialists, that they simultaneously share in a community of ideas with Soviet Russia and with Zion.”

As much as the Nazis denied him the option to be German, the Zionists denied him the possibility of being not-Jewish.  Both were despotic in their determinism.

The tragicomedy of Klemperer is that, although he stood on the better side on the question of freedom, he fell off his steed on the matter of objectivity.  The Germany which was the object of his will was a figment of his imagination. Like Don Quixote, he had read (and fallen in love with) too much literature.  Towards the end, he sadly confessed, “I do not believe in the value of the things that I fight for."

At last Don Quixote's end came, after he had received all the sacraments, and had in full and forcible terms expressed his detestation of books of chivalry. "

But it was a good fight to fail at; for, if man is anything at all, he is a zoon logistikon endowed with the power of the word to shape himself and his destiny through language, literature, liturgy and law.  The alternative is simply enslavement to mindless tribalisms.

Thus when the New York Times, decides to make much of the fact that Cardinal O’Connor’s mother was Jewish, despite the fact that O’Connor was oblivious to that fact and at no time in his life manifested any will to be Jewish, it is belaboring an accidental fact which is absolutely irrelevant to man’s freedom and which acquires significance only on the basis of racial-determinism.

The New York Times is entitled to pursue whatever cultural and political agenda it wants. But, for shame, it should stop at tribalistic exultations which impose an impersonal destiny on people against their knowledge, freedom and will. 

©WCG 2014

[1] Jabotinsky’s Letter on Autonomy, 1904. Cited in Brenner,  The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism From Jabotinsky to Shamir (London: Zed Books, Ltd., 1984), p.29.

[2] Mein Kampf, Vol I, Ch. 11.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Two Creations & the Old Lie

Rather by chance, we came across Lully’s Marche Royale on Youtube which was gallantly pleasing as these marches go.   Far more impressive, though, were the accompanying video-stills taken from the Cathedral d’Albi, a late medieval structure in Toulouse, France built between 1287 and 1480. 

We were, it should be said, blown away by its beauty.  But the thought which recurred most in our mind was: hands — the myriad of human arms, hands and fingers that put this beautiful leviathan together.  

With each frame we imagined the backs that carried, the arms that cut, the hands that chiseled, the fingers that set and gilded the host of myriad details, each its own little soul, which joined in harmony to create this reflection of heaven on earth.

We imagined, also, the master masons drafting their plans late into the night, the surveyors measuring ground in the fresh of morning, the drivers and donkeys bearing cartloads of brick and stone to the site, the apprentices laughing and breaking for bread, onions and wine at noon... and of course, the accountants tallying their receipts and balances. 

There was more than mere architectural harmony at work here and the whole edifice made one rather disposed to forgive the human race its manifold follies, vices and crimes.

As fate would have it, however, this morning we came across another video —  a propaganda film made in anticipation of the D-Day landing in Normandy.

The film was mostly a paean to the united logistics that enabled the invasion.  It detailed with swelling pride the jeeps, the tanks, the planes, the rolling stock, the landing craft, the crates of supplies and murderous widgets, all of which were  “the fruition of four years of planning...”

And not least was the vast expense of human labor that so manifestly infused the entire enterprise on every point along the assembly line of war...

“...every man knew just where he was to fit into the gigantic pattern...   intoned the narrator,

“...every jeep every tank... was assigned its place in the grand strategy of attack...”

Every single piece of which -- from belt buckle, to rifle bore, to screwed in detonator, the work of human hands.

Two things such propaganda films rarely show are: drudgery and death — the sheer boring, exhausting, sweating, aching business of unloading 3,000 boxes, of parking 1,000 tanks, of standing in line waiting for something to get done, before some other tedium can slowly unfold; and, of course, the denouement of it all which consist in blowing concrete, earth and flesh to bits in a million moments of destruction, mutilation and death. 

And so, we were left to contemplate what might be called the Two Creations, each the inverse image of the other — one a reflection of what we hope is heaven, the other an embodiment of what we know is hell.

Today, June 6th, the leaders of the Allied Nations, together with sycophants from defeated Germany, gathered in Normandy to commemorate what is styled as the Liberation of Europe, but which would be more honestly be styled as the Great Destruction.

I wish to make very clear that I raise no objection to a penitential remembrance of loss and waste and suffering; and, in this regard, to remember that this remembrance includes the other side, as a 93 year old  English veteran struggled to remind us.

But the truer remembrance, in my view, is the one uttered by Wilfred Owens almost a century ago,

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

you would not tell with such high zest 
To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
When at least, as the Queen has always done, the remembrance is left to silence, no attempt is made to “bawl allegiance to the state” (Owens).  But once the speeching and preaching begins we are simply rehearsing the Old Lie

And this is what was done at the Anglican service on June 5th when the Army Chaplain, sanctimoniously intoned,

“for in the end, greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down lay down his life for his friends...”

The problem with this statement (as we recently discussed) is that it is a sophistical canard which shuffles between the soldier as an individual and as a piece in the “gigantic pattern” of a country at war.

Let us return to d’Albi.  Does it matter that a mason, carpenter or glass-maker may have gotten drunk after work or beat his wife the day before?  Of course not.  His individual sin does not detract from the harmony of the work of the whole as a whole.  The cathedral remains a reflection of man at his best. 

Conversely, the fact that an individual soldier took heart in fear or threw himself down on a grenade to save his buddy does not redeem the vileness of the enterprise of nations. 

This shuffle between the one and the many which extracts from the pain, sorrow and heroism of individuals an insinuation of just cause for the many is the vial of poison used by preachers who whore themselves to war.

And no one whored himself better than Obama, whose  teleprompted remarks on the beaches of Normandy were a paradigmatic example of how the language of crusade is used to justify ongoing war.

After his trademark treacle about “the child who runs his fingers over colourful ribbons he knows signify something of great consequence,”  Obama went on to memorialize the sacrificial heroism of one Wilson Colwell, one Harry Kulkowitz, one Rock Merritt, and then rattled on to commend the present service of one Melvin Cedillo-Martin, one Jannise Rodriguez and one “sergeant First Class Brian Hawthorne” who “just yesterday, [ ] reenlisted in the Army Reserve."    These personal testimonials served as simple, tear-jerking buttresses to the real cathedral of Obama’s argument which was that

These men waged war so that we might know peace. They sacrificed so that we might be free. They fought in hopes of a day when we'd no longer need to.   ... We have to honour those who carry forward that legacy today, recognising that people cannot live in freedom unless free people are prepared to die for it. ...May  God bless our veterans and all who served with them, ... And may God bless all who serve today for the peace and security of our world.
In so saying, Obama honey coated the slipped-in assumption that we still need to wage war for peace today.  He was not remembering but advertising.  The solemnification Obama engaged in was a bawling praise of war tricked out in the Old Lie dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. 

The syllogism of the lie is always the same: you are laying down your life pro patria, for your friend, on behalf of others and, therefore, the war of which you were an exploited part was good.  Just as the lie confuses the motives of individuals with those of the State, it seeks to disconnect the act of war from its the inherent nature.

The issue is, in my view, fundamentally simple.  A person who engages in an assault does so for one undeniable purpose: to hit the other person.  The moment one says that the assault is committed for another purpose or for another person or for another concept, one has introduced a disconnect between the act and its ineluctable natural purpose.  Ulterior motive becomes the justification for what is actually done.  But this ulterior purpose bears no necessary relation to the act.  It is simply a tacked-on assertion.  This is the  syllogism of all crusades, the teleology of which Wilfred Owens categorically rejected. 

But once the commemorations at Normandy are seen as the reiteration of a crusade, we are brought to a discomforting intersection of the Two Creations.

The Cathedral d’Albi was built in the wake of the Albigensian conflict during which the government mounted a brutal crusade to suppress the Cathar heresy. In the aftermath of the bloodshed, the cathedral's dominant presence and fortress-like exterior were intended to convey the power and authority of the orthodox Christian faith.

In short, the awesomely beautiful cathedral was built to impress the locals with the magnificence and rightness of the imposed order of things; and, by implication, with the justness of the previous slaughter.

Here a further discomforting intersection arises; for the phrase often attributed to General Patton was first uttered on the eve of the mass slaughter of the Cathars. 

How to distinguish the Catholics from the heretics in the city? it was asked. "Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius" – (“Kill them all! The Lord discerns which are his”.)  And so,

"... crying "to arms, to arms!", within the space of two or three hours they crossed the ditches and the walls and Béziers was taken. Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, and put to the sword almost 20,000 people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt, as divine vengeance raged marvelously.” (Letter of legate Almaric to Pope Innocent, 1209)

What would Almaric have said of allied carpet bombing? we wonder.   But it is certain that the slaughter of innocents, (which always seems to occur when we heroically and sacrificially die for fellow man) is a horror which requires a commensurate justification which is made as unquestionable as the slaughter it excuses.

The solemnities at Normandy and in Paris are not only a commemoration of the Allied Effort on D-Day, they are, more fundamentally, a solemnification of the post-war world order.  The war is fobbed off as a crusade, the unstated but absolutely necessary premise of which is that we were right and noble whereas the other side was dastardly,  shameless, heretical and consummately evil.  This is a post-war article of faith, which it is illegal and blasphemous to question in any way or to any degree because to do so would begin to question the Old Lie.

©WCG, 2014