Auschwitz Should Remind Us, But it Does not.
It has been more than sixty years since Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army. Everyone born in that year has entered or will enter, officially, bureaucratically, old age. The greatest horror of the Second World War, bureaucratic mass murder, has persisted, in the form of an over-arching world bureaucracy that insists we collectivize, thus diminish our simple and separate singularity, thus our humanity–we do seek the comfort of conformity, ourselves audio-hypnotized by the near homophony; the herd we mingle about within . . . we do prefer to moo and baa our way about in this world, speaking not much other than parroting. We understand protection only in terms cows would comprehend if they could step out of their instincts and enter human thinking; but fantasies aside, most of us homo-sapiens (and I am cognizant of using Homo-sapiens as opposed to human; human is a choice; homo-sapiens is what we are born and what we bear into this world too often.).
I have witnessed reasonably intelligent people oppose Bush by marching en masse and chanting monosyllabically around Union Square Parkin the hopes of raising consciousness against war–perhaps their efforts were not all for nothing; I am certainly not opposed to their protest, nor by necessity the means employed. I was just wondering, if it had occurred to anyone, that if they were opposed by the police or national guardsmen, what then would the result be? The protest would have to be managed appropriately (which says what?) in face of anything overtly antagonistic, and I was not sure of this. which should and should not be a primary concern: my certainty is not the concern, but there should be a concern to avoid, not simply minimize, the justifications power seeks to impose order, whether by a generally accepted use or presence of force or by brutality, and they are not the same thing, force in itself force and force that is brutal.
What I acknowledge, though, aspart of all State operations in face of any standoff between The People and the Agents of State Policy, yes, the Police, is as follows: all not having been beaten by the cops with truncheons and riot hats plays into the hands of the State. We flatter ourselves, we do if we compare ourselves to King or to Ghandi, as if anything were the same for us as it was for them . . . but I exaggerate, don’t I? Evoking King and Gandhi in our America is a proper and proportionate thing to do; historical perspective is beyond subjective. America is home to neo-solipsists all of us–a collective unconscious of solipsism; a group solipsism we suffer in one or another form or amalgamation–and this is true in and from all corners of the world.
Nonetheless, if only one tenth of the marchers I watched chanting monosyllabically against the war in Iraq had written an especially individualized yet of course intelligent, articulate letter to his or her congressperson–what then would we do if more of us could write and write effectively. But do we write at all anymore? Twitter does not count; it did not even before the Donald showed us how semi-literacy and inanity could be effective weapons when coupled with the broadly grotesque (or is that the grotesquely broad and base) populism, or is that even grosser in its plurality–popularity. The once relevance in education movement had taken us away from writing at what we once called advanced literacy. What we have instead is Alphabetism. Do we even teach our elite students to write anymore?
No War, Peace Now, Send the Troops Home . . . there were a few thousand tweets retweeted and retweeted over and over chanting monosyllabically toward what end? This was the ultimate effort because it was the easiest one. The greatest exponents of the relevance in education movement in the 70s became themselves too many of Hilary’s supporters, unable to defend any part of the liberalism they all could chant monosyllabically about: The Right to Choose, the Right to Choose, the Right to Choose; It’s my body, it’s my body, it’s my body. With how as effete and ineffective, as insipid and disingenuous, as cliche and trite as their slogan ladened rhetoric had become, it is a wonder the Right has not staged a coup sooner and that all of the safety net had not been cut up into pieces.
Chant any monosyllabic phrase one hundred and twenty seven times in an afternoon while holding a badly illustrated placard on a stick . . . fifty per cent of NYC high school graduates read below grade, and people who have the benefit of university educations most often do not choose to write an essay, a letter to the editor, except in the received ideas because their respect for reading and writing, their respect or their reverence for reading and writing disappeared long ago or had never been instilled. We used to set as the lowest standard, reading on grade; now it has become an accomplishment for even some of whom we call elite in our public schools.
What passes for remedial instruction in community colleges is often not intended to be better. If democracy is slipping it is because we who want it have confused it for collectivism, have come to think it can maintain itself, and that the warning of our founders for constant vigilance had to an exaggeration because it came from old or middle aged white men who had to be stupid because they were not politically correct and failed to achieve our level of enlightenment?
Again, We the People do moo and baa and call it our Ode to Freedom. Can we even articulate freedom anymore; have we so relevatized meaning that we can no longer say anything about anything. If all things were relative, there would be nothing for anything to be relative to . . . and that is nihilism at its purest.
In our mass media culture, saying anything makes it so, even if only for fifteen seconds, but that quarter of a minute is enough to sustain us in our thinking for years. If we lived in Bradbury’s world of Farenheit 451, all would have been forgotten . . . we would have burned everything in all Canons.