Saturday, April 2, 2011

Brutality and Debauchery

Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization relates two episodes that suggest a causal relationahip between the two.

The first involves "health" workers in May 1940 in the T4 Euthanasia Program, exterminating mentally and physically handicapped persons. Mr. Baker: "The assembly-line killings led to the brutalization of the staff, writes one historian: 'Reports abounded of drunken orgies [and] numerous sexual liaisons." An eyewitness reported that "almost all employees were intimate with each other."

The second involves victims, rather than perpetrators of state terror. The Italian foreign minister in September 1940 visited Berlin, which had sustained three months of British bombing (the Germans had at this point yet to bomb British civilians). Among the many psychological effects of the bombing, the minister reported widespread "promiscuity between men and women."

One has to wonder to what extent, in our own country, the warfare state and violent television programming have contributed to collapse of sexual morality, which is, of course, the basis of civilization, which Mr. Baker reminds us has long since ended. Understanding how it was ended, however, will be essential for those who hope to rebuild it.

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Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


"Almost all employees were intimate with each other"? Joshua, you don't have to read a history book. That's a season of TV hospital drama Grey's Anatomy! I think there was one storyline in which all the doctors had contracted an STD just from sleeping with each other.

Very seriously now, Grey's Anatomy also has its own form of sanitised, sterilised, civilised brutality in the professionalism of its surgeons. I remember one early episode in which a pregnant woman "died" in the eyes of the doctors, while her family wanted to keep giving her nourishment so that she could carry the baby to term. The head obstetrician was furious at the family's decision, accusing them of using the mother's "dead" body as an incubator. (!!!) In the end, the chastened family members pulled the plug and lost both the mother and the baby.

4:14 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

A disgusting example of TV programming if there ever was one. What mother worth the name wouldn't live on a few extra weeks for her child?

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us.

7:35 PM  
Blogger xavier said...

Wow sounds a lot like what happened to the Einzengruppen- the drug addiction and drunkedness were rampant. Quite frankly, the mudereres tried to medicate or intoxicate the natural law out of themselves and failed.

Thank goodness, I've never bothered with Grey's anatomy. If I'd seen that epsiode, I'd've written a vehement counter-script blasting the head obstetrician

10:21 AM  

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