Thursday, May 05, 2016

Yom HaShoah

Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day – was today. It՚s sort of an anti-holiday. Holidays are centered around something holy and sacred (even the secular ones); this is around an event that is the opposite of that, the ultimate profanation. Something about the Nazi genocide sets it apart from mere mass murder. Not just the brutality itself, but the systematic, industrialized, and bureaucratic efficiency with which it was carried out. The moral abyss it opened up was blacker and deeper than anyone could have dreamed of, and it still exerts an inexorable gravitational pull on our moral thinking – or mine, anyway.

These events seem unimaginably distant from our present comfortable era, but it was not that long ago. I was born in 1958, 13 years after V-E day and 2 years before the Eichmann trial. Both my parents fled Europe as teenagers, my mother՚s family (from Germany) mostly got out, my father՚s (from Prague), well, nobody knows but it is pretty safe to assume they were murdered. They managed to build lives for themselves in America, but my mother, who loved high German culture (particularly opera, particularly Wagner) I think was messed up by the experience; it՚s not hard to understand why.

If you want to know why I get obsessed over the crypto- and not-so-crypto-fascism that infects our public life these days, this is why. I՚m very aware of the abyss and really feel an obligation to do whatever I can to stop people from being sucked into it. Political flaming on the Internet is almost surely a complete waste of time, but if there is any excuse for it, this is mine.

1 comment:

Gabriel Martindale said...

"Something about the Nazi genocide sets it apart from mere mass murder"

The 'something' is not very hard to understand. The holocaust is the foundation myth of the democratic world order and all its factions. Not that the holocaust is a myth, just that it plays a mythic function (the general description of WW2 that your average person will give you, however, certainly counts as a myth in every sense). For the interventionists, someone is always being appeased, for liberals the next bout of murderous intolerance is always just around the corner if they don't keep getting their way, for Bremain, Brexit will sew the seeds of Fascism, for Brexiters, the EU is fascism.

In Israel, the Holocaust is also part of our myth. This is more natural, since it actually had something to do with us, but it is perhaps even more unhealthy. Above all, it implies our right to live here is a product of the Nazis, which makes no sense anyway you cut it. Parenthetically, it is also improper to have a sombre day during the month of Nissan.

All in all, everyone should just stop talking about the Holocaust for five years and all public discussion should be transferred to some other random genocide, from which we can construct entire political programmes out of trying to avoid a repeat of. It doesn't even have to be a Communist one, how about Congo?

You don't have to be Neoreactionary to believe this. Who could possibly argue that neoconservatives have not overreached? Who could possibly argue that the EU has not overreached? Of course, there is always the possibility that if we stopped talking about the Holocaust then whole structure of legitimacy for the current world order would fall apart, but you actually do have to be a Neoreactionary to believe that, so why worry?