Re: The Desire to Kill

I hate to nurture this endless stream of postings that have marginal, if
any, bearing on Foucault. I usually delete them without reading them,
but this one caught my attention... Did our prolific poster ever read
Eichmann in Jerusalem? Arendt never claimed that Eichmann was not an
anti-Semite and a Nazi. No one who has even a rudimentary familiarity
with her work would believe she would equate "thinking" with having an
ideology. I would recommend some attention to the first volume of The
Life of the Mind and the section on "ideology" in The Origins of
Totalitarianism before continuing this embarrassing line of commentary.
Her essay "Thinking and Moral Considerations" is worth attention as well.

PsycheCulture@xxxxxx wrote:

> Hannah Arendt's believed that Adolf Eichmann was a "thoughtless,"
>unquestioning person who simply followed the rules, or accepted the judgment of
>others. Evidence subsequently has arisen proving Arendt's interpretation to be
> Rudolf Hoess, the COMMANDANT AT AUSCHWITZ (the title of his book),
>reports that he drank with Eichmann in order to get him to reveal his true
>thoughts. According to Hoess, Eichmann showed that he was completely obsessed with the
>idea of destroying every single Jew that he could lay his hands on. "Without
>pity and in cold blood," Eichmann said, "We must complete this extermination
>as rapidly as possible."
>Eichmann, according to Hoess, was absolutely convinced that if he could
>succeed in destroying the biological basis of Jewry in the East by complete
>extermination, then Jewry as a whole would never recover from the blow. The
>assimilated Jews of the West, including America, would, in his opinion, be in no
>position (and would have no desire) to make up this enormous loss of blood and
>there would therefore be no future generation worth mentioning.
> Eichmann, Hoess concludes, was "completely obsessed with his mission
>and also convinced that this extermination action was necessary in order to
>preserve the German people in the future from the destructive intentions of the
> The enlightenment consciousness of Arendt's time could not tolerate the
>idea, on the one hand, that human beings might have a passionate desire to
>exterminate other human beings, and on the other hand that this desire to kill
>might grow out of a systematic body of thought.
> The fact of the matter, however, is that Nazi scholars, including
>medical doctors, anthropologists, political scientists and philosophers (as well as
>Nazi ideologues) believed, put forth and embraced a particular theory about
>the Jew. This idea required the destruction of the Jew and generated the Final
> Profound destructiveness and "thought" can go together. It is not that
>the Nazis (and many Germans) simply "went along" with something they did not
>understand. Rather, many comprehended Hitler's message. They resonated with his
>belief that the existence of the Jew and existence of Germany were
>contradictory ideas. If "Jews" existed, Germany could not. The logic of extermination
>unfolded from this premise.
> An ideology is not simply "imposed" from up above.
> While It is obvious that individuals born into a society do not "choose"
>the beliefs or artifacts that constitute their culture, nevertheless it is
>human beings and human beings alone that create and perpetuate culture. Persons
>born into the United States (and many other societies) encounter air
>conditioners as a widely-distributed cultural form. Even though we ourselves have not
>invented air-conditioners, we do not view them as a creation that is separate
>from human agency.
> We do not mystify air-conditioners. We understand that they have become
>part of human societies because they are responsive to specific human needs.
>So it is with each and every idea or invention that constitutes culture.
> Certain symbolic forms are selected out and "passed along." Many ideas
>and inventions are put forth or proposed but few become "culture." I
>hypothesize that ideas or inventions become significant elements of societies to the
>extent that they are responsive to psychic needs. These ideas or inventions
>exist because they "do something" for human beings.
> Hitler and Eichmann were convinced that the extermination action was
>necessary in order to "preserve the German people in the future from the
>destructive intentions of the Jew." They became "completely obsessed" with their
>mission of killing every single Jew that they could find.
> The actuality is that Jews represented no danger to the German people.
>Jews were persons who existed in Europe seventy years ago. However, when
>Hitler spoke of "the Jew" he was not referring to concrete human beings. Rather,
>these terms constituted for Hitler mental representations. When Hitler insisted
>that it was necessary to "kill Jews," what he meant was that it was necessary
>to kill or kill off some idea that was contained within or represented by the
>word "Jew."
> In killing Jews, Hitler was struggling to kill off something within
>himself. If this "something" continued to exist, then the German nation could not
>exist. What is it the existence of which disproves the existence of the
>With regards,
>Richard Koenigsberg
>Richard A. Koenigsberg, Ph. D.
>Library of Social Science
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