At 12:37 AM 2/17/99 +0100, Mag.phil. Raimund Karl wrote:
>Neil McEwan wrote:
>> And sometimes they're quite right to do so. Look how much hay has been
>> made by politicians out of the Holocaust -- but they're still justified in
>> saying that history proves anti-Semitism to be a bad thing.
>No, they are not. History prooves not in the slightest that
>anti-Semitism is a bad thing, it only prooves that a certain form of
>anti-Semitism resulted in the loss of millions of lives of innocent
>people of mosaic faith - the judgment if this is good or bad is simply
>outside the discipline of history - as it is a moral judgement, not a
And how is that moral judgement arrived at? People don't just wake up
in the morning and say, "This is wrong". They say, "this is wrong because
it has resulted in such-and-such in the past".
>It's the same as if one would say that physics
>prooves that gravity is a bad thing as things that fall to the floor
>usually get damaged.
False analogy -- history deals with human actions which are within the
scope of moral consideration -- physics does not.
>While I, personally, do also think that the Holocaust was a very bad
>thing, I can't agree that history prooves that anti-semitism was a bad
>thing, and even less that politicians are justified in claiming that
>history prooves that anti-Semitism is a bad thing, because, in doing
>this, they do the same thing the Nazis did with history - they give
>their interpretation a pseudo-scientific cover which looks bright, safe
>and shining - as this has been prooved by some science, so there's no
>need to discuss it any more, no necessity to think about it
And yet if we refuse to draw the lesson from history, how else will we
arrive at the conclusion that anti-Semitism is wrong? From "a priori"
principles that leave the fundamental questions unanswered?
>> This is a bit like saying that because people have been known to choke
>> to death on food, we'd all be better off not eating.
>It would be nice if it were that easy, and I can only recommend reading
>Popper's Open society and it's enemies to you.
I am familiar with Herr Popper, but nowhere do I remember his advocating
that we throw the baby out with the bathwater.
>> The German-speaking
>> peoples seem to have an continuous sense of an impending Fourth Reich
>> around the corner of everything and that is understandable, but it is not
>> really worth taking seriously for most of us.
>Well, half of the western world has nothing better to do to tell the
>Germans (and the Austrians as well, by the way) every second day how
>evil they were and how anti-Semitic they still are, so this is somewhat
>a national trauma over here.
Yep and I don't agree with it at all -- it's beating a dead horse and
it damn well ought to stop. However the historical trauma works somewhat
similarly in the non-German West: over here, practically every influential
political idea is labelled "fascist" or "Nazi" by the people who disagree
with it; it's a kind of automatic hyperbole that has degraded the language.
Now, I hear Germans (online, or in the media) do this sort of thing a lot
too, and although they do it for a nobler reason (usually motivated by
genuine concern, rather than the desire to score quick and easy points)
it is no more realistic on their part. The Nazis, in my opinion, were a
historical one-off; and if they ever come again, it won't be from a tiny
little country like Wales.