[Marxism] Follow-up on Valkyrie: personal conscience and responsibility
hunterbadbear at hunterbear.org
Sun Jan 4 07:04:28 MST 2009
Re some of the discussion on Redbadbear:
I have no German forbears on which to fall back for direct, personal knowledge. My maternal grandmother spoke German fluently but that came from her father, a Swiss immigrant [who was also a radical social justice activist in Kansas, beginning in the Territorial days.]
So I'm not a personal authority on German society and culture -- though I am aware that, for various historical and sociological reasons, among them monarchial principalities in the pre-unification period and patriarchal family structures, authoritarian strains have traditionally been more pronounced in Germany than in many other settings. Traditionally, again, the German military subordinated itself to -- authoritarian -- civil government.
Long before I ever arrived in Mississippi ['61], I had learned via observation and experience that fundamentally good people can not only do bad things -- but, much more commonly, can "look away" rather than directly at nefarious and often downright sanguinary actions initiated by their leaders and even their fellows. I've always recalled the comment made by a colleague of mine, a Jewish refugee from South Africa, who observed that in a "choice" academic setting in that country, "the more intelligent the mind, the more intricate the rationalizations."
With all due respect, I'm not inclined to be too harshly judgmental in situations where complex individuals [and all of us are complex] are enmeshed in the complexities of totalitarianism. True, as we fight for social justice, we do have to classify -- even usurp God's role in "sorting souls" -- as we carry our campaigns, large and small, along the Trail. [For all of its many internal challenges, the United States is a vast and diverse country with almost all Americans still recognizing that they are born into a tradition of personal liberty. I have never seen this country -- despite, say, the last eight years -- as even being close to a totalitarian incarnation.]
The "road to Damascus" [speaking, of course, in the New Testament sense] is a longer trek for some than for others. I suspect many German officers in the Nazi regime were increasingly troubled by the policies of the Third Reich. I understand Rommel, in North Africa, insisted on good treatment for British prisoners of war and did not honor Hitler's general stricture to murder Jews. There were numerous plots to kill Hitler and I have no problem giving credit for conscience-emergence and great courage on the part of those German officers, depicted in Valkyrie, who tried desperately to fulfill a worthy mission.
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