Disturbing sociology

"Modernity and the Holocaust' by Zygmunt Bauman says that the Holocaust was a direct result of both modern technology and bureaucracy which in themselves tend to disarm and corrupt ethics. Therefore our current contentment and closing the books on Holocaust as something evil that happened in the past and belongs only there is dangerous. The very foundations of the ways we organize ourselves as a modern society are pregnant with demoralizing tendencies, that, if met with right conditions, can (easily!) explode in mayhem, inhumanity and unspeakable evil.

Some learned scholars argue to what extend this gloomy vision of ourselves is correct. I think that unfortunately it not only unveils our darkest potentiality, but in a very scary way announces something. Let's pray that the announcement has to do with the way we ought to process the past and analyze the present. However, what if it is also the announcement of something approaching. Something real.

The book shows how a complex matter of mass murder aiming to exterminate the entire nation was possible by diluting, shifting and obscuring moral responsibilities of the individuals involved. In short, how a truly unspeakable became possible by breaking it down into smaller, acceptable steps.

Not us, not here, not now - you'll say. Really? Are our social choices fully ethical? Don't we accept hypocrisy, cynicism and blatant lies because the system (elected officials, media, science, experts) absolves us from the immediate responsibility? Don't we swim in conformity, even though we know that things are not right?

On the record: it was the Germans who did it in the 30s and the 40s. Yes, the ship was turned around, yes the bankers could care less, yes the peasants were oblivious, yes some helped the murderers, but it was the Nazis and other assorted Germans who did it. No ifs, no buts, no excuses. Or if you want a more hardcore version see my entry on "Inglorious Basterds" ("Remake of "Basterds" needed" - the tragic memory label.) I still stand by it.

Yet, the Bauman's disturbing analysis makes the past calamity more contemporary than we would want it to be.

Therefore on a certain level it is justified to ask:

What are we really involved in this time?

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