Dehuman condition

Do a person’s harmful or negative actions disqualify their artistic or social endeavors? Do the ends justify the means? I mean, if someone is a wretched wife or a nasty person or an abusive father or a bully, does that make their art or philanthropic social contributions more or less worthwhile? Or do we have to separate them from their work? Like, in the famous case of Wagner, is his music held accountable or penalized for his anti-semitic views? Do we consider Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi’s extra-marital affairs to be impediments to admiring their virtuous causes?

On the individual level we can say the ends justify the means because an abusive spouse doesn’t directly effect the larger social group. The individual’s contributions to the broader human experience can somehow outweigh their atomic family damage. Or so we tell ourselves, when incubated from dealing with the suffering of the afflicted.

Ah, but if we excuse some people, how do we consider folks such as Joseph Mengeles or Unit 731 if they actually come up with valid research? What about the medical advancements of wartime conflict? Do the ends justify the means? I say fuck ’em, but I guess each one is a totally individual issue, isn’t that right? And from an economic viewpoint, the cold evanescent waves of society, only one thing matters (guess what that is?). Where we stand on the issue morally doesn’t seem to decide things. Political and social morality seems like a feigning stance sometimes. Moral issues — since when have those actually mattered in the economic progress of society? It often seems like morals are defined by economic conditions. *shiver*

Genocide, the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanking, Unit 731, African-American and South American slavery, colonization, the killing and displacement of the Native Americans or the Ainu or the Saami — they all functioned via one initial political policy: dehumanization. Treating the group in question as if they were less than human.

Yeah, we all know that’s what it means. It’s in the history books, dummy. But think about it: the reason for these groups to be dehumanized was not an individual choice made person-to-person (well, it was but they didn’t each spontaneously arrive at that choice). The decree was given from above, by the government and religious leaders; the idea was given that these groups were a threat, were the other, were out to get us, that they were not like us, that they were not human.

See, dehumanization is the first step in committing mass genocide. It just takes propaganda and a lot of straw-man building. Once people have a higher authority telling them it’s okay — nay, even good — to commit heinous murder, because the other is a threat to one’s people and culture, it becomes morally acceptable (and sometimes rewarding) to do so amongst members of the dominating group.

How people let themselves fall into believing this kind of sinister propaganda crap I don’t wanna know, but if you convince yourself of something for long enough, eventually you’ll believe it. Likewise, as soon as you’re convinced some person or group is being manipulative or has a veiled agenda or that there is a conspiracy theory afoot, everything they do will seem to validate your suspicion! Not that these suspicions are always wrong, but you see why it’s so risky…

Dehumanization, that’s bad. But that’s implying only humans receive quality treatment! What about the animals? Doesn’t a good human being treat all beings with the same kindness? Are the scientific achievements that result from experimenting on animals worth the price any more so than when the test subjects are humans?

Hrmm… the thing that worries me is what happens after we kill off all the animals. With no one left to kill or eat, we’ll turn on each other or validate individual existence by ethnic background. Isn’t that right? Once things get competitive enough, at the very least we’ll be designating an individual’s value by nationality or caste or whatever. Ha, as if we didn’t do that already!

Anyway: I don’t know if I want to live in a world without wild animals, and in which humans meet their friends and mates on computer-exclusive social networks. It’s starting to make me cry!


*I should point out, the two most disturbing movies on the Holocaust I think I’ve seen are The Grey Zone and the documentary Shoah. They’re so draining you can’t even shed a tear.


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