The Loneliness of Victims of Evil:
The Banality of Evil,” written by Hannah Arendt and published in 1963 suggested that people who do extraordinarrily terrible things may by very ordinary people.  That stirred up a lot of controversy.  Of course I am in complete agreement.  I rail on a regular basis against what is going on that is reducing the fertility of the world.  Perhaps not exactly against what is going on, but against the ignorance that accompanies it.  And that ignorance is engaged in and enabled by perfectly normal people.  Well by almost every authority I reach out to, so one might say it is enable by most authorities.

Another voice has entered the debate.  A new book, Going to Extremes by Cass R. Sunstein, Oxford Univesity Press, New York 2009, takes a position based on evidence such as the fact that when a group of liberals discuss an issue with other liberals their opinions become more liberal and when a group of conservatives discuss the same issue they become more conservative.  Sunstein points out a very strong human tendency to move with the crowd and analyses the process in detail.  Evil is the kind of extreme position that can occur when people gather without dissenting voices.

The need to be part of a group is no new idea.  In this country people are willing to send other people to be executed for certain crimes.  But there is no crime for which the penalty is to be locked up alone for life.  That is simply too cruel. 

It is usual when discussing extremes of evil to bring up the Nazi death camps.  Don’t tell me they didn’t exist.  I have spoken with escapees.  And years ago I dutifully went to Dachau to look at the evidence.  It was a camp in which innocent people were killed; that was quite clear.  But the numbers seemed small.  Horrific, yes.  But there just were not as many as I had come to believe in.  I asked and was told, “Oh, that was Buchenwad where the enormous numbers were killed.  Decades later, checking into Buchenwald, the numbers still weren’t there.  Nowadays, one hears that it happened at Auschwitz.  I have not been there, but my understanding is that the Auschwitz camp was captured and long remained in control of the communists, who around the time in question were also mass murderers, and although I am assured that there is no doubt of the numbers, I have a bit of a problem with the witnesses.

What I suspect is this: death camps, yes, real, and large numbers, yes, real.  But perhaps there was a diaspora of these crimes against humanity.  If the purpose was to intimidate, that would have been more effectively served by having the executions done locally.  It would also have been more convenient. 

But there are three reasons for people to put emotional stock in the idea of large centralized places.  For the first, it dramatizes the process, as if that was needed.  In the second place if one assumes huge centralized camps of death, then the blame can be placed upon a few monsters, who can be identified and themselves executed.  If it was a thousand little death squads scattered all over Europe for many years, there is no hope of catching them all.

The third reason is less political and more emotional.  One cannot help but think, “That could happen to me.”  And one fantasizes being a victim.  If one is a member of a large group who are being mistreated, there are some advantages.  One can hope they all will be found and rescued.  One can imagine a general uprising.  At at all events one has the identity of the group as some sort of emotional support.

But if one is snatched by a bunch of murderous thugs and hustled away, one loses those things.  Are the authorities going to intervene?  Hardly.  The oppressors are acting for the authorities.  Can one make a break for it?  Hardly.  Time is short and the squad has no other business.  And then there is the loneliness.  There is the terrible loneliness.  There is utter despair without friends, without companions, without anybody to know.  I suspect it is this elaboration of suffereing that led me to assume people suffered in groups.  What now seems more likely was too terrible to think about.

And that brings us back to the subject of the infertility of large randomly mating groups in two ways.  For one thing, it may explain the reluctance of people to get involved in discussion, much less in trying to help aleviate the situation.  It is just to terrible.  There.  I said it.  But I cannot understand it.  We are not talking about the past.  We are not talking about anything that cannot be changed.  It may be too late to save us, but it is by no means too late to try.  So if that is going on, then we are all truly mad.

The other, and more poignant issue is the diaspora.  We are looking at a diaspora.  There are no great seething satanic mills of death.  We are talking about a divorce here.  About a man going to jail for abusing his wife here.  About a man going out and getting drunk and dying in a wreck on the way home.  We are talking about the monthly red banner of infertility being flushed primly down the toilet.  We are talking about a woman here and a woman there crying herself to sleep because she cannot have children and nobody ever told her why. 

(Bear in mind that although I have reached out to a large number of people and they have not accomplished anything so far, that does not mean they will never accomplish anything.  I stand prepaired to appologize when it happens.)

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