The absence of thought is how humanity walks into armageddon. – Paul Craig Roberts
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers. – Thomas Pynchon
It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled- Mark Twain
A couple of recent stories from Europe get my attention, and it’s really tough to know where to start, given how they tie to the past and the present in fairly complicated ways.
When societies get badly stressed, delusional thinking increases. We are now in that situation. – James Howard Kunstler
This week saw commemoration of the liberation, 70 years ago, of the Auschwitz camp in Poland, arguably the most infamous of the death-camp concentration camps of Nazi Germany.
There was lots of commentary all over, all the news chatter, online communications between people in various forms on the web. There were the things that are almost reduced to platitudes and cliches, about never again, and we must be on guard and vigilant about fascism arising again, and so on. These things are fully right and proper and appropriate, but as I’ve just said, sometimes it seems a little empty, people saying what they think are the proper things they’re supposed to say. It’s easy to look at events and circumstances that happened decades ago, apart from our own lives and experiences, and have perfect hindsight (or think so, at least) and be very righteous and neatly conclusive about it all. I wonder how many people say the things I’m talking about, about the past, and be remarkably oblivious and thoughtless about things of the present.
I think there’s quite a lot of truth in an idea that’s sometimes attributed (apparently incorrectly from what I can find) to Mark Twain, which says history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes.
In other words, it can happen again, and part of why it could happen again is because people don’t see it as what it is, as it begins to appear and happen, because it’s not exactly like what happened before.
Thinking about the awful history of what’s generally called the Holocaust, and the whole hellish chunk of history of Nazi Germany, I’m usually struck by the thought that what might be the biggest overlooked lesson of that history is just how easily it happened. People get all kinds of notions about that saga, from the comfortable distance of long ago in another time and place, neatly packaged up by bits of history classes and put away. Those Germans, how could they have gone so wrong and been so terrible? The Nazis were so clearly and obviously evil, how could people have let them take over and do such wrong? They must have been terrible people, so evil, so blind and foolish!
Of course, you would have had no part of it, right? You’re a good person, one of the Good Guys, you would never have let that happen, and insert all the judgments of the terrible failings and weaknesses of the German people of the time.
That’s a whole topic of its own. More to the point, it’s worth seriously considering what happened with people in that time and place, and examine our own time, right now, and what people are missing right in front of us. What’s happening right now, even as people proudly make proclamations about how we must not let this happen again, we must be vigilant!
It isn’t just a case of “what are people missing?… what are we overlooking?”. It’s a case of people not wanting to notice and understand, even if something is laid out right in front of them as clearly as possible. It might be awfully uncomfortable and inconvenient. Later, then, it can be “oh, what happened?… how did this happen?… it wasn’t me!… I had nothing to do with it, I didn’t know!…” and so on.
I was feeling a mix of things when I read some online comments about never letting a horror like the Nazi death camps happen again, about being vigilant, about not letting fascism raise its head again, while noticing some large by omission. Nobody seeming to even notice that it’s happening again, right now.
Yes, people, it’s Ukraine. God knows I’ve been trying to get people to notice what has been happening there, for months now, and if you’ve been paying attention here, you not only know about it, but have read what I’ve said about the general oblivion, or, worse, the widespread problem of people thinking that they know all about what’s been happening, being fed mass amounts of assorted propaganda, outright lying and more subtle manipulations. Actual Nazis, fascists who are directly linked to the culture of Ukrainian Nazis supporting Hitler in World War II, are now in positions of power in a European nation for the first time since World War II.
This is old news to many people, but unfortunately unknown to many more, and this information and much more about the situation is dismissed by public figures as “Russian propaganda”, just one of the ways it’s ignored and shoved aside. Too many people just don’t want to know, don’t even want to hear about it, because it conflicts with what they want to believe, and what they’ve been fed as “news”, and that gets into the ugly territory of people wanting to avoid the idea that their own government and a supposedly “free press” would actually be feeding them manipulative propaganda. That can’t happen here, right? Evidently it can.
I’ve been doing summary descriptions of the situation in Ukraine and the associated geopolitical insanity for months, so I will try to not delve into all that again, as necessary as this seems to be. The absurdity is deep and tangled, enough so that even while the whole saga is fairly complicated, and often murky and confused, thanks to all kinds of obfuscation in statements from government and “news” media showbiz, I would think that any reasonably intelligent and attentive people would get enough clues to at least start to realize that things they’re being told are not adding up properly, simply don’t mesh. The general narrative of fiction and nonsense continues to bombard people, such as an opinion/editorial piece on the website of the UK periodical The Guardian that I read yesterday, that was just massive, egregious, pure bullshit, that simply follows the incessantly repeated narrative that tells people, here in the US and Europe (including the UK) that “we must help Ukraine defend itself against the evil aggression of Putin and Russia”, when there is no such thing, and all the proposed and actual military aid to the new junta government in Kiev is devoted entirely to the campaign of the Ukrainian military to wipe out all the Russian-Ukrainian culture in the east who dared to resist a bunch who overthrew their legitimate elected government and simply wipe them out, one way or another.
Back to Auschwitz, and the recognition of what happened there. There was a big gathering at the site itself, which was actually set up inside a vast tent, presumably all heated up in the Polish winter, complete with an array of lighting and sound system and video equipment and projection screens for the theater. This revealed something that was a huge, clear, staggering clue, that was actually shocking.
Many people were present, including the new stooge President of Ukraine, Poroshenko. This was paired with a notably missing person, Russian President Vladimir Putin. It should be noted that from what I could gather from news (including real news, not just the usual suspect infotainment), Putin was not present because he was not invited. This should be a fairly stunning item for people, but I wonder how many people might not have the thought occur to them about why this is an outrageous thing. It’s old information that the Auschwitz camp was liberated by the advancing army of the Soviet Union as they moved east, pushing back the Nazis after a hellish conflict inside Russia, where the German army had managed to inflict incomprehensibly massive and horrific suffering and destruction and death, after Hitler had turned on the USSR and Stalin and attacked them. The Soviet Union was a collection of member state countries, of course, not just Russia, but all accounts I could find say that the liberation of Auschwitz was conducted by a number of Soviet Red Army units, a large operation, that were all Russia-based units.
So, there it was, this ceremony at Auschwitz, with the president of the present day Russian Federation missing, but with the presence of the new Ukrainian president. The explanation, good for jaw-dropping astonishment, was that according to Polish officials involved in the observation of the liberation of the camp, was that Auschwitz had been liberated, not by the Soviet Union army, but by Ukraine. Ukraine, of course, was part of the Soviet Union, but whatever the composition of the units involved, in terms of where in the Soviet Union they might have come from, all accounts of the history I saw itemize Soviet army units based in Russia.
Worse, during World War II, even while Ukraine was a member state of the Soviet Union, which had been attacked and invaded by Nazi Germany, there was a culture of Ukrainians who sympathized with the fascists of Nazi Germany, supported them, and fought the Soviet Union for them. A documentary on TV about the Nazi concentration camps mentioned the use of Ukrainian guards by Nazi Germany to staff the camps, presumably to free up German soldiers to be elsewhere. The cultural descendants (maybe literal descendants in many cases, I’m guessing) of those people never ceased their Nazi and fascist beliefs and sympathies, and are today found thoroughly woven through the new regime that took over Ukraine by coup, and have been relentlessly trying to purge Ukraine of their own form of “undesirables”, in this case not being Jews, and Gypsies, and others, but Russian-Ukrainians.
This follows another recent stunner, where Victoria Nuland’s selection, before the coup, to take control of Ukraine after the coup, Arseny Yatsenyuk, AKA “Yats”, was apparently interviewed on German television and said some nonsense about Russia invading Ukraine and Germany during World War II. I have no way to know if it’s a case of him being that blatantly dishonest, or truly that ignorant. It’s absurd enough just on the face of it given the fact that Ukraine and Russia were both part of the Soviet Union, so a Russian invasion of Ukraine is a comically idiotic assertion, but aside from that, anybody with any knowledge of the history of World War II knows about how Hitler initially signed some sort of pact with Stalin, and then turned on the Soviet Union, and attacked and invaded, with huge losses and suffering by the Russians, until the tide turned and the Soviet army eventually pushed their way back and kept going until Berlin fell and the Third Reich was ended.
Even more astonishing, from what I can gather about this episode, nobody corrected him and pointed out the massive falsehood.
Elsewhere, there was big news in the election results in Greece, with the election of a new Prime Minister and party opposed to the general financial ravaging of Greece as part of the European Union, and one bit of a surprise for the EU was his refusal and objection to signing off on yet another round of economic sanctions aimed at Russia condemning Russia as responsible for missile attacks on civilians in the city of Mariupol. The truth appears to be very different, which should be no surprise by now.
The Greeks wanted nothing to do with more EU scapegoating fiction covering what certainly seems to be an attempt, via the coup in Ukraine, to do to Ukraine what happened to Greece, make it a looted vassal debtor nation.
In snippets of Sunday morning media chatter, I caught bits of a couple of interesting items.
In one, on a TV in another room on for a while there was some Sunday morning yap show where some politician or somebody was droning on about near future American politics. I briefly listened as they were going on and on about “terror threat assessments” and “the war on terror” and how, in their very important opinion, we (who?) were supposed to, by necessity, “go anywhere and do anything”, anywhere in the world, to “fight the terror threat”.
I left that and carried on with other things. A little later, I caught a bit of a radio show on public radio where somebody else was talking about living in a state of chronic general fear, not just personal, but as a group psychology, and what that does, all the destructive effects, all that can go badly in how people act and think (or not think) and treat other people, what people acting in a basis of ongoing general fear can do to each other because of this.
It was an interesting coincidence, and contrast.
Troubling things are happening, interesting things are happening, but the question hanging in the air throughout is how many people here in the US really know, or even want to know. That last part might be the worst of it.