16 January 2013

Andrew Nagorski: Hitlerland - Little Eichmanns

The opposite of love is not hate, but callous apathy and uncaring.  Hate is a passion, a counterpart to lust.

And tragedy occurs when such heartlessness is advantaged by careerism, and an ideology that rationalizes unconscionable expediency, sanctioned privation, organized repression, and eventually murder, on a massive scale. 

This is not how monsters are created, but how their enablers and supporters are formed, so that they too can, over time, become as beasts to escape their unbearable shallowness, and the emptiness of their souls.

These are not the Hitlers, but the little Eichmanns. And they are abroad again, making and influencing policy on an alarming scale, today.

"The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil...

The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together...

He [Eichmann] was in complete command of himself nay he was more: he was completely himself. Nothing could have demonstrated this more convincingly than the grotesque silliness of his last words.

He began by stating emphatically that he was a Gottgläubiger to express in common Nazi fashion that he was no Christian and did not believe in life after death. He then proceeded: “After a short while gentlemen we shall all meet again. Such is the fate of all men. Long live Germany, long live Argentina, long live Austria. I shall not forget them.”

In the face of death he had found the cliché used in funeral oratory. Under the gallows his memory played him the last trick: he was 'elated' and he forgot that this was his own funeral.

It was as though in those last minutes he was summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us: the lesson of the fearsome word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.”

Hannah Arendt

h/t Andrew