Wednesday, August 14, 2002

I recently read "Humanity" by Jonathan Grover. It's a study of various totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. Though I can't say that the book was particularly insightful, I did cull some interesting observations from it.

In speaking of Nazi Germany, he observed:

Abandoning the commitment to truth has drastic implications for moral identity...When mass murder is sufficiently re-interpreted, people can support it with an unimpaired sense of moral identity.

One way of preventing the growth of any alternative sense of identity was to obliterate any private space in which this might happen. To an unprecedented degree personal life was invaded by the political.

In reference to Mao's China:

Mao had managed to turn the people into the ultimate weapon of dictatorship. That is why under him there was no real equivalent of the KGB in China. There was no need. In bringing out and nourishing the worst in people, Mao had created a moral wasteland and a land of hate.

But of course we all know that such things could never happen here. After all, this is America.

So why am I reminded of the line from "A Man for All Seasons": "This isn't Spain. This is England"

Oh well, one thing is certain - we are living in interesting times.


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