Tuesday, July 26, 2005

"Hitler requires, not condemnation, but understanding"

The notion that you can somehow defeat violence by submitting to it is simply a flight from fact. As I have said, it is only possible to people who have money and guns between themselves and reality.

…the greater part of the very young intelligentsia are anti-war … don't believe in any 'defense of democracy,' are inclined to prefer Germany to Britain, and don't feel the horror of Fascism that we who are somewhat older feel

wrote George Orwell (respectively) in 1941 and 1942. Max Boot takes on moral relativism in the 1940s, noting that, contrary to what is commonly believed today,
Appeasement did not end with the German invasion of Poland in 1939. … Enlightened opinion ranging from Amnesty International to Dick Durbin joins in this moral relativism by suggesting that the United States has become no better than its enemies through the actions it has taken to prevent terrorism. Just as 1940s pacifists could see no difference between Nazi concentration camps and British wartime curtailments of civil liberties, so today's doppelgangers equate the abuses of renegade guards at Abu Ghraib with the mass murder carried out by Stalin or Pol Pot.

There is also an enduring tendency to blame the victim. George Galloway, Saddam Hussein's favorite member of Britain's Parliament, suggests that Londoners "paid the price" for their government's "attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq." The implication is that Al Qaeda has reasonable grievances and if only we could satisfy them — by, for instance, exiting Iraq — we would have peace. The same thing was said about Hitler, who complained that Germany had been wronged by the Treaty of Versailles.

Meanwhile, Harry's Place digs out one of the intelligentsia members' replies to Orwell's 1942 speech (thanks to Ashbrook's Peter W. Schramm):
Fascism is not a force confined to any one nation. We can just as soon get it here as anywhere else. The characteristic markings of Fascism are: curtailment of individual and minority liberties; abolition of private life and private values and substitution of State life and public values (patriotism); external imposition of discipline (militarism); prevalence of mass-values and mass-mentality; falsification of intellectual activity under State pressure. These are all tendencies of present-day Britain...

Don't let us be misled by names. Fascism is quite capable of calling itself democracy or even Socialism. It's the reality under the name that matters. War demands totalitarian organisation of society. Germany organised herself on that basis prior to embarking on war. Britain now finds herself compelled to take the same measures after involvement in war. Germans call it National Socialism. We call it democracy. The result is the same.

...Who is to say that a British victory will be less disastrous than a German one? The last British victory was pretty meaningless.

...The corruption and hollowness revealed in the prosecution of this war are too contemptible for words. Certainly I will accept my share of responsibility for them, but I wont fight in a war to extend that corruption and hollowness.

...Orwell dislikes French intellectuals licking up Hitler's crumbs, but what's the difference between them and our intellectuals who are licking up Churchill's?...

French intellectuals?! How did they get in here? It is is certainly not anything I remember reading much about in my French history courses. (You know, the ones that French bloggers are always (re)assuring us are part of a pretty much objective "programme".)

Does this mean that French intellectuals were just as "lucid" in the 1940s as they are today? Were they just as admired as they are today? If their accounts of moral relevance in the 1940s were just as listened to (by snickering, superior-sounding, "war is (and violence is) always the worst solution"-thinking citizens in occupied — and, to some extent, pacified — France) as they are today, what does this say about the citizens' attitude towards the war, towards the Anglo-Saxons' part in waging it, and towards the members of the home-grown résistance?

Continuons. (By the way, think of the line, "Oh we don't like Saddam either", as you read the rest of D S Savage's piece of wisdom, as well as the image of Dubya as a dummy and the justice-implying attitude, "they had it coming"…)

I am not greatly taken in by Britain's "democracy", particularly as it is gradually vanishing under the pressure of the war. Certainly I would never fight and kill for such a phantasm. I do not greatly admire the part "my country" has played in world events. I consider that spiritually Britain has lost all meaning... I feel identified with my country in a deep sense, and want her to regain her meaning, her soul, if that is possible: but the unloading of a billion tons of bombs on Germany won't help this forward an inch... Whereas the rest of the nation is content with calling down obloquy on Hitler's head, we [pacifists] regard this as superficial. Hitler requires, not condemnation, but understanding. This does not mean that we like, or defend him. Personally I do not care for Hitler. He is, however, "realler" than Chamberlain, Churchill, Cripps, etc, in that he is the vehicle of raw historical forces, whereas they are stuffed dummies, waxwork figures, living in unreality. We do not desire a German "victory"; we would not lift a finger to help either Britain or Germany to "win"; but there would be a profound justice, I feel, however terrible, in a German victory...
Harry concludes: "Any resemblance to the more recent equating of the US and the UK with Baathist Iraq and al-Qaeda is, I am sure, purely coincidental."

While we are on the subject,
what European leader thundered
that America's president was
“guilty of a series of the worst
crimes against international law”

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