Bauman And Modernity

The whole project whereby criticism of the policies of Israel, or of the acts of individual Jews, is linked to the concept of “anti-Semitism” and thence to the Holocaust, implying that such criticism is morally responsible for the murder of six million people, depends on the assumption that the Holocaust was motivated by “anti-Semitism” at all levels. That is, that it happened not only because Hitler was an anti-Semite but because all the functionaries involved in the machinery were also anti-Semites. The Polish sociologist Zygmund Bauman, however, pointed out that much of that machinery was manned by conformists who harboured no personal animosity towards Jews, and that many anti-Semites defied it. It might be interesting to know more about the motivations of people who hated Jews but nevertheless opposed the Holocaust; did they perhaps do so on economic grounds? Or did they rightly consider that such machinery cannot be stopped until it has devoured everybody? At any rate, if Bauman is right about this, it brings out how facile and superficial is the automatic attribution of genocidal anti-Semitism to anyone who inconveniences you or your country.

Bauman regards the Holocaust as being instead a consequence of Modernity and its obsession with “order”. If it resulted from a general conceptual condition, however, rather than the metaphysical gentile depravity discussed above, then there is no particular reason why Jews themselves should not one day suffer from and yield to the temptation to perpetrate something similar.

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  1. Written by urban
    on November 14, 2011 at 13:08

    One day?

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