Posted by: rosa alba | July 4, 2014

Cheapening Atrocity – The CyberBrit/CyberNat Tragedy


I am a Yes voter, I support democracy, believe in the right of self-determination for any small country or political autonomy; in undergraduate and post-graduate research I read extensively about Independence in 19th Century Latin America, and the suppression of regional identity (and democracy) in Franco’s Spain, and the Portuguese Revolution of the early 70s.

I also believe in the economics and structures proposed in the Future document, and the opportunity to rewrite the rule book with the aim of a fair and just society. All Of Us First – Common Weal  – is not a slogan, but a lifestyle that we can take on which can (will) make a real difference to a modern country in which there is a degree of child and more general poverty that defies even terms like disgraceful and appalling, and press silence.

The basic worth, rights and treatment of individuals transcends religious views or poetical sentiments: Beloved Child of God is a image that needs translated into political action and economic reality, beyond the individual citizen’s tithes, mitzvot or other charitable donations: the nature and scope of modern society, not least size but also the isolation of the post-industrial age, means ad hoc, feelgood donations in response to public appeals do not suffice. Humanity does hold  a responsibility of stewardship and to other species, however you wish to consider the metaphor of Adam’s dominion over all animals (Genesis 1:26), but animal charities receive disproportionately to the need of, for example, Mental Health.   It might also be argued that the tzedekot and mitzvot, and the tithes of Judeo-Christian society were de facto taxes for the benefit of the community. They were not optional for those who subscribed to faith.

Man’s inhumanity to man is as old as humanity: where it differs from the brutality of other species is the sentient being that is the definition of human. It is a conscious respone, for the most part: as sentient beings we are aware of our own pain and of the pain of others.  Choosing to inflict pain or suffering on others, for reasons other than immediate and genuine survival of self (and even then that is a closely morally and ethically circumscribed situation) is a definition of inhumane; the Christian might chose to lay down his own life for the sake of another or others as inthe example of Maximilian Kolbe, a priest in Auschwitz. Such examples of selflessness – in the face of immediate and genuine threat to life are rare.

The inhumanity of regimes Franco’s Spain, or  Sá-Lazar’s Portugual (or for a shorter period Mussolini’s Italy),  all feature  suppression of opposition, suppression of regional culture, identity and language, suppression particularly of Communism and intellectualism contrary to the tenets of Fascism, enforced religion, and Blood and Soil National Idenity – the pura sangre (pure blood, without Muslim taint, an ideology of the Spanish Golden Ages which continued to influence popular thinking and identity throughout beyond the 16th Century, Fascism was a perhaps a lesser extremism than that of  the much shorter lived Nazionalsozialismus of 1930s Germany, and the term therefore less coloured.

In terms of Nazionalsozialismus – Nazism – we know the of persecution, not just of the Jews but the rounding up, internment and eventual extermination of gays and lesbians, the Roma (gypsies), those with physical or cognitive Additional Support Needs, the mentally ill, and less well recognised as a fact, of Trade Unionists, Communists and Catholics.  Nazi religious endorsement was of Solstices and paganism focusing on inherenet Germanity. Blood and Soil Nationalism.

The atrocities of Nazionalsozialismus  do not need repeated. The barbarity does not need to be reiterated. The figures do not need to be recounted.  Nor need we enumerate the dictatorial or extremist governments since the 70s, nor the suppression of human rights or the use of torture and disappearing (or even the involvement of foreign powers) in order  to uphold regimes such as Pinochet’s Chile.

What does need to happen is the end of a misappropriation of the term Nazi  – a specific definition of one of the worst and most gencidal regimes in Modern History – to describe (ironically) left wing civic nationalism and grassroots Movement Politics.
To use this term for sensationalist efffect – or even Fascism, which once more has specific political meaning, as well as the cultural connotation of brutal and horrific oppression of opposition, dismisses the point of view writer or speak, invalidates their commentary but most of all cheapens, denies, subverts the realities of Modern History. To do so as an academic and historian is particularly unacceptable. Misappropriation causes the the terms  (Fascism, Nazism especially) to cease to have real meaning both retrospectively and currently (in the case of Fascism as vocabularly  to describe other right wing oppressive and totalitarian regimes).
Worse yet, it demeans and denies the experience of those who lived and sufffered through the atrocities of these regimes as they happened, or continue to happen.   It makes a mockery of their lives and more often than not, their deaths.

Few are called to the freely chosen and selfless  martyrdom of Maximilian Kolbe.

Not much greater was the small number who survived by means or methods or desperation we would not want to know far less experience ourselves, but of which, in the case of Chile (not Nazism nor European Fascism but a dictatorial right wing regime), Isabel Allende has written in both her novels and journalism, for example Of Love and Shadows. 

Many millions starved before  horrific deaths.

An article in today’s Herald questions, if not the helpfulness, then the modus of Movement Politics.  While I disagree with the writer in terms of the role  popular protests play when they highlight, if not issues around  freedom of the traditional or mainstream media, then its blinkered collusion with the Establishment, It is important too that we note and draw attention to those who abuse their position or their voice, insult others inappropriately and/or subvert political or democratic process, especially when these political bodies are failing to monitor and police themselves. We must do so without turning it into a witch hunt which adopts the dialectic of the transgressors – whether the McCarthy-esque making of lists, or the virtual hounding of hapless victims of a broken mechanism (not so much political process but its particular praxis).  Scotland had its share of witch hunts in the 17th Century. We have moved on.

What  is equally imperative is that we that  remember that “[Do you not know] in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) Our prize is Independence, and the chance to rewrite the agenda for how our country functions. To make sure  “every bairn o Aidam has breid, barley bree and painted room” regardless of racial, social, political or cultural identity: One Scotland.  To run effectively so as to  get this prize, movement politics, grassroots groups and conventional political campaigns must work together, hand in hand, celebrating difference.

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