Re: Discourses of Political Destruction: One

In a film made several years ago, "The Men Who Captured Eichmann", one of
the Israeli secret service agents asks Eichmann, played by Robert Duvall,
how he could have done what he did. The agent was told not to talk to him,
but he could not resist posing this question because he own family had been
slaughtered by Eichmann. Eichmann's response is very interesting and does
not pose all these grand ideological programs. He said: When I was young, I
was a very bad student and my father did not respect me. But I was a good
marksman and one day on the rifle range an SS Officer saw me shooting my gun
with expertise and wanted to know if I would be interested in joing the Nazi
party. They gave me a uniform, boots, a gun, they called me sir, and I was
respected. I have nothing against the Jews. I always respected them. I had
Jewish friends. But they gave me a uniform and made me feel important.
That's why I did it." It seems as simple as that. That would be very

----- Original Message -----
From: <PsycheCulture@xxxxxx>
To: <foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, July 07, 2003 10:28 AM
Subject: Discourses of Political Destruction: One

> We have been discussing the extraordinary manifestations of
> societal violence in the Twentieth Century politics, with nearly
> human beings killed as a consequence of activities called "war,"
> "revolution," etc.
> I suggested that one might characterize what has occurred as a form
> civilizational psychopathology, and that there may be common psychological
> processes that sustain the cultural constituted patterns of behavior.
> One hypothesis is that violence or destructiveness is the
> of a form of submission to an ideology, whereby individuals are willing to
> and kill in the name of defending or valorizing an idea to which one is
> attached. I focus on the "nation" as a fundamental ideology to which
> bind themselves, but as others have pointed out, a similar dynamic may
> attachment to religious beliefs and political ideologies (such as
> Human beings elevate an ideology or belief system into something
> or more significant than the self, identify themselves with this ideology,
> and then submit or bow down to the idea that has come to represent them.
> and dying arise out of passionate, hysterical attachment. One is willing
> die and to kill in order to prove one's devotion to the symbolic object
> which the ego has become identified.
> Insofar as the self has become identified with the omnipotent idea,
> destruction of the ideology is experienced as destruction of the self. The
> "grand narrative" becomes psychosomatically situated within one's body.
> Destruction of the idea is experienced as the fragmentation
(disintegration) of one's
> body.
> I focus on Nazi Germany because I believe that what occurred there
> constitutes a paradigm for the destructive political processes of the
> Century. Rather than being an anomaly, Hitler crystallized certain
> trends.
> Freud viewed neurosis and psychosis as extreme forms of
> processes that occur in everyone. Similarly, genocide constitutes an
> form of "normal" or ordinaryh political processes. In conceiving and
> the Final Solution, the Nazis were acting out the ideology: " It is
> to kill the enemy in order to save the nation." Hitler carried this idea
to its
> logical, bizarre conclusion.
> Hitler may be characterized as a radical conformist. He put forth
> common, ordinary political ideas, then expected his people to embrace
these ideas
> absolutely or totally.
> He said, "We wish to have no other God, only Germany." With Hitler,
> religion of nationalism reached its apotheosis. Hitler asked his people to
> adore and worship Germany. The other side of the coin of worshipping
Germany was
> the destruction of all those who refused to bow down: "Thou shalt have no
> other god before me."
> Hitler declared to the German people: "You are nothing, your nation
> everything." Alongside the glorification of the nation was negation of the
> subject. Rather, the subject was relocated in the nation. The nation was
> glorified as an omnipotent object. The German people bowed down to this
projection of
> themselves, but in so doing negated (and eventually destroyed) themselves.
> Rudolph Hess often declared, "Hitler is Germany, just as Germany is
> Hitler." Violence and destructiveness grew out of the intense, passionate
> attachment that binds the ego to an object conceived as omnipotent.
> Hitler said, "We may be inhumane, but if we rescue Germany we have
> achieved the greatest deed in the world." This is the fundamental
structure of
> thought that generates political destruction. Those who initiate violence
> recognize that what they are doing is not exactly wonderful or groovy.
However, they
> overcome their compunctions based on the idea that what they are doing is
> "necessary."
> What is necessary is that the omnipotent idea or ideology be
> at all costs. What must be rescued is belief in the object and its
> That which must be destroyed is the OTHER ideology or nation. From within
> framework of the other discourse, one's own nation, god or ideology is NOT
> conceived to be good or omnipotent.
> Hannah Arendt's views were discussed in relationship to my theory.
> Arendt's biographer, Elizabeth Young-Bruehl observed that Arendt located
> capacity to do evil in what she called "thoughtlessness," that is an
inability or
> choice "not to think, to inquire, to question, but a rote following or
rules or
> acceptance of another's judgment."
> Eichmann's explanation at his trial suggested that he had
> "the Fuhrer's will for the Kantian categorical imperative," and that
> will became the "ultimate source of lawfulness."
> The subtitle of Arendt's book, the "banality of evil," generated a
> certain line of analysis that focused upon the tendency of German
bureaucrats to
> "follow orders." This mode of interpretation emphasizes "obedience" as a
> motive underlying societal destructiveness. According to this perspective,
> is not as if Eichmann truly desired or wished to kill Jews. Rather, he was
> of many ordinary, "thoughtless" persons who simply executed or carried out
> the requirement of the bureaucracy, demands of society and orders of its
> leaders.
> Is such a characterization of Nazi destruction accurate? Are we able
> comprehend what has occurred within such a "bloodless" perspective?
> With regard to ideologies of violence, sacrifice and murder, what is
> the relationship of the subject to these societal discourses?
> With regards,
> Richard Koenigsberg
> Richard A. Koenigsberg, Ph. D.
> Library of Social Science
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