[ a fully caused & embodied blog ] [ Good Sense Without God ]
It is in the prosecution of some single object, and in striving to reach its accomplishment by the combined application of his moral and physical energies, that the true happiness of man, in his full vigour and development, consists. Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with repose; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm our eyes. If we consider the position of man in the universe,—if we remember the constant tendency of his energies towards some definite activity, and recognize the influence of surrounding nature, which is ever provoking him to exertion, we shall be ready to acknowledge that repose and possession do not indeed exist but in imagination. - Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action) (1854 ed.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

After a Review We Should Know Too

So, if there is something to learn from History, what about w/r/t to Barack Obama and his candidacy? Assuming you are reading my blog on any semi-regular basis, I am not voting for him but for Cynthia McKinney.

Arthur Silber recently wrote a post that riled some people by suggesting a parallel between Obama's campaign and Hitler's appeal. He suggested that they were similar:
With regard to Obama in particular, what I have been getting at are very broad cultural and political dynamics, general patterns that repeat throughout history, assuming one studies and understands history. So, no, Obama is not a Hitler duplicate, but, to a readily noticeable and troubling extent, he is someone riding a similar kind of cultural wave and response, and he may well use an already existing authoritarian-surveillance state that repeatedly engages in aggressive war to wreak great destruction both at home and abroad. The unthinking, unquestioning idolatry heaped on Obama by many of his followers only increases the danger; as I have stated, this additional factor is a very significant one to me.
This is one of the reasons I am not voting for Obama. The idolatry is sickening.

But of equal interest to me was Arthur's quoting from this book:
"You are an American," he said again, smiling. "I will explain. There I was, in 1935, a perfect example of the kind of person who, with all his advantages in birth, in education, and in position, rules (or might easily rule) in any country. If I had refused to take the oath in 1935, it would have meant that thousands and thousands like me, all over Germany, were refusing to take it. Their refusal would have heartened millions. Thus the regime would have been overthrown, or, indeed, would never have come to power in the first place. The fact that I was not prepared to resist, in 1935, meant that all the thousands, hundreds of thousands, like me in Germany were also unprepared, and each one of these hundreds of thousands was, like me, a man of great influence or of great potential influence. Thus the world was lost."

"You are serious?" I said.

"Completely," he said. "These hundred lives I saved--or a thousand or ten as you will--what do they represent? A little something out of the whole terrible evil, when, if my faith had been strong enough in 1935, I could have prevented the whole evil."
The book is a collection of interviews with "average" Germans relatively soon after WWII. I have yet to read it (though it is on its way), it shows how simply and stealthily the evil came:
One day, when we had become very friendly, I [the author] said to him [one of the Germans he interviews for the book], "Tell me now--how was the world lost?"

"That," he said, "is easy to tell, much easier than you may suppose. The world was lost one day in 1935, here in Germany. It was I who lost it, and I will tell you how.

"I was employed in a defense plant (a war plant, of course, but they were always called defense plants). That was the year of the National Defense Law, the law of 'total conscription.' Under the law I was required to take the oath of fidelity. I said I would not; I opposed it in conscience. I was given twenty-four hours to 'think it over.' In those twenty-four hours I lost the world."
And that is the point. This is why you can judge those in the past:
If you can know better, you should.
This is why you must open your eyes in the now:
You must act immediately to "prevent[] the whole evil".

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