Well, as we have observed elsewhere on the forum, there are many elements at play here.
As I mentioned in my last blogpost, I was reading Sebastian Haffner's book "Defying Hitler". (Highly reccommended) I quoted a bit about his observations of how the Nazis took over in the blog, and I think that most people who can "see the cracks in our reality" are able to notice all the things that Haffner noticed, and even to feel many of the things he was feeling about them.
Ark and I were talking about Haffner's experiences the other day and I was telling him how Haffner had described how people in his social group just "went off the deep end," some of them supporting Hitler and turning Fascist, many of them either just idly observing or actively participating in the evil acts promoted by the Nazi regime, and how close a parallel it was to what we see today, including the passage of the legislation that allows torture, and how people just seem to be going right along and how astonishing a thing it is to observe.
Well, Ark pointed out that it is in such times as these that differences between people's deep natures are more sharply brought into focus and in less stressful or less dramatic times, these differences are not so apparent. So then he wondered if there was anyway to tell the difference, i.e. to know what is deep inside a person, when the times are more or less peaceful?
I said that there was a passage where Haffner had described a group of his friends, and how this group was broken apart by the sharpening of these differences brought on by the stresses of the Nazi regime. What is so interesting about this passage is that Haffner takes some trouble to describe the natures and relationships of this group of six young men BEFORE the Nazi takeover, and then to describe how that takeover, how that philosophy, affected each of them. I will quote it here, since it is not very long and is well worth reading for seeing an example of what we are discussing.
My attempt to seclude myself in a small, secure, private domain failed very quickly. The reason was that there was no such domain. Very soon the wind whistled into my private life from all sides and blew it apart. By the autumn there was nothing left of what I had considered my 'circle of friends'.
For instance, there was a small 'working group' of six young intellectuals, all of them Referendars approaching the Assessor examinations, all from the same social class. I was one of them. We prepared for the exams together, and that was the outward reason the group had been formed. But it had long since become something more than that and formed a small, intimate debating club.
We had very different political opinions, but would not have dreamed of hating each other for them. Indeed we were all on very good terms. The opinions were not diametrically opposed, rather - in a manner typical of the range of views held by young intellectual Germans in 1932 - they formed a circle. The extreme ends of the arc almost met.
The most 'left-wing' member was Hessel, a doctor's son with communist sympathies; the most 'right-wing' was Holz, an officer's son who held military, nationalistic views. Yet they often made a common front against the rest of us. They both came from the 'youth movement' and both thought in terms of leagues. They were both anti-bourgeois and anti-individualistic. Both had an ideal of 'community' and 'community spirit'. For both, jazz music, fashion magazines, the Kurfurstendamm, in other words the world of glamour and 'easy come, easy go', were a red rag. Both had a secret liking for terror, in a more humanistic garb for the one, more nationalistic for the other. As similar views make for similar faces, they both had a certain stiff, thin-lipped, humourless expression and, incidentally, the greatest respect for each other. Courtesy was anyway a matter of course between the members of the group.
Two other opponents who understood each other well - and often supported each other against their own confederates - were Brock and I. We were more difficult to locate on the political scale than Hessel and Holz. Brock's opinions were revolutionary and extremely nationalistic, mine rather conservative and extremely individualistic. From the ideas of the Right and the Left we had each picked the exact opposite. Yet there was something that united us: at heart we were both aesthetes, and we both worshipped unpolitical gods. Brock's god was adventure, collective adventure à la 1914-18 or 1923; my god was the god of Goethe and Mozart. Forgive me if I do not name him for the moment. So it was inevitable that we were opponents on every topic, but often opponents who gave each other a wink. We could also drink well together. Hessel was a teetotaller and opposed to alcohol on principle. Holz drank in such desperate moderation that it was a shame.
Then there were two natural mediators: Hirsch, the son of a Jewish university professor, and Von Hagen, the son of a very high civil servant. Von Hagen was the only one of us who belonged to a political organisation. He was a member of the Deutsche Demokratische Partei (German Democratic Party) and Also of the Reichsbanner. That did not prevent him from mediating. On the contrary, it predestined him for it. He tried to reconcile all opinions and had understanding for every point of view. Further, he was the embodiment of a good upbringing, tact personified and impeccable manners. It was impossible for a discussion to degenerate into altercation if he was present.
Hirsch was his second. His speciality was gentle scepticism and tentative anti-Semitism. Yes, he had a weakness for anti-Semites and always tried to give them a chance; I remember a discussion between us in which he seriously took the anti-Semitic part, and I to redress the balance took the anti-Teutonic part. Such was the chivalry of our debates. Besides, Hirsch and Von Hagen did their very best to bring an occasional tolerant smile to Holz's and Hessel's lips, and to induce Brock and me to make a serious 'avowal' now and then. They did their utmost to prevent Holz and me, or Hessel and Brock, destroying each other's holy of holies (that was only thinkable in these two combinations).
It was a nice group of hopeful young men; if you had seen them in 1932 sitting round a table, smoking and eagerly debating with each other, you could hardly have thought that its members would, within a year, figuratively speaking, be standing on opposing barricades ready to shoot each other. To cut a long story short, today Hirsch, Hessel and I are emigrants, Brock and Holz are high Nazi officials, and von Hagen is a lawyer in Berlin. He is a member of the National Socialist Association of Lawyers and of the National Socialist Drivers' Reserve, and possibly (with regret, but it is necessary) of the Party itself. You can see that he is still faithful to his role of mediator.
From the beginning of March 1933 the atmosphere in our group started to become poisonous. It was no longer as easy as before to hold courteous academic discussions about the Nazis. There was an embarrassing, tense meeting at Hirsch's home shortly before the 1st of April.
[Laura's note: The first of April was the day the Nazi government had designated that the country should all boycott Jewish businesses. Keep in mind that this was in 1933, a clear, early, example of Hitler's attitude.]
Brock made no secret of the fact that he greeted the coming events [the boycotting of all Jewish businesses] with a pleasantly warm feeling of amusement and he relished the superiority with which he could state that 'there is naturally a certain nervousness among my Jewish friends.'
In his view, expressed in the same mode, the organisation seemed to be pretty dreadful, but it was interesting to see how such a mass experiment would turn out. In any case it opened up the most exciting prospects.
Thus spoke Brock, and it was difficult to find anything for which he did not have an answer, given with the same brazen smile. Holz responded thoughtfully that there might well be regrettable incidents in such a summary and improvisatory process, but that anyway the Jews ... and so on.
Our host, Hirsch, finding himself thus relieved of the necessity of taking sides with the anti-Semites, sat silently by, biting his lips. Von Hagen pointed out tactfully that on the - other hand the Jews ... and so on. It was a beautiful discussion about the Jews, and it dragged on.
Hirsch continued to say nothing and occasionally passed round the cigarettes. Hessel tried to attack racism with scientific arguments. Holz defended it with scientific counter-arguments. It was all very pedantic and very sober. 'All right, Hessel,' he said, more or less, taking a slow puff on his cigarette, exhaling and watching the smoke coil upward, 'in a humane state, such as you are tacitly assuming, all these problems may not exist. But you have to admit that when a new form of state is being set up, as is the case at the moment, racial homogeneity ...
I began to feel nauseated, and decided to say something tactless.
'It seems to me,' I said, 'that [v]the question here is not how a national state should be founded, but quite simply, the personal stance of each one of us.[/v] Isn't that so? Apart from that, there is nothing over which we have any power or influence. What I find interesting in your attitude, Mr Holz, is how you reconcile your opinions with your current status as a guest of this house.'
At that Hirsch cut me short and emphasised that he had never made his invitation dependent on any particular opinion, etc.
'Of course,' I replied, quite angry now, even with him, 'and it is not your stance that I am criticising, but that of Mr Holz. I would like to know what it feels like to be someone who accepts the invitation of a person whom he intends in principle to do away with, along with all his kind.'
'Who mentioned doing away with?' cried Holz, and every- body started to protest, except Brock who said that he personally saw no contradiction here. 'You may be aware,' he said, 'that in wartime officers are frequently guests in houses that they are going to blow up the next morning.'
Holz, on the other hand, soberly proved to me that one could not speak of 'doing away with', when Jewish shops were being boycotted in an orderly and disciplined manner'.
'Why is it not doing away with them?' I cried, outraged. 'If you systematically ruin somebody, and take any possibility of earning a living from them, they must surely finally starve. Is that not so? I call it doing away with someone when you deliberately allow them to starve, don't you?'
'Calm down,' said Holz, 'nobody starves in Germany. If a Jewish shopkeeper is really ruined, they will get social security payments.'
The terrible thing was that he said that quite seriously, without the slightest sneer. We parted in a hostile mood.
In the course of April, just before the lists were closed, Brock and Holz became members of the Nazi Party. It would be wrong to say they were jumping on a bandwagon. Both had undoubtedly shared some opinions with the Nazis all along. Up to now the Party had not been strong enough to persuade them to join. The little extra was supplied by the recruiting power of victory.
It became difficult to hold the group together. Von Hagen and Hirsch were kept very busy. Still, it managed to survive for another five or six weeks. Then, at the end of May, there was a meeting at which it broke apart.
It happened just after the mass murders in Copenick. Brock and Holz came to our meeting like murderers fresh from the deed. Not that they had taken part in the slaughter themselves, but it was obviously the topic of the day in their new circles. They had clearly convinced themselves that they were in some way accomplices. Into our civilised, middle-class atmosphere of cigarettes and coffee-cups the two of them brought a strange, blood-red cloud of sweaty death.
They started to speak of the matter immediately. It was from their graphic descriptions that we found out what had actually happened. The press had only contained hints and intimations.
'Fantastic, what happened in Copenick yesterday, eh?' began Brock, and that was the tone of his narrative. He went into detail, explained how the women and children had been sent into a neighbouring room before the men were shot point- blank with a revolver, bludgeoned with a truncheon, or stabbed with an SA dagger. Surprisingly, most of them had put up no resistance, and made sorry figures in their nightshirts. The bodies had been tipped into the river and many were still being washed ashore in the area today. His whole narrative was- delivered with that brazen smile on his face which had recently become a stereotypical feature. He made no attempt to defend the actions, and obviously did not see much need to. He regarded them primarily as sensational.
We found it all dreadful and shook our heads, which seemed to give him some satisfaction.
'And you see no difficulty with your new Party membership because of these things?' I remarked at last.
Immediately he became defensive and his face took on a bold Mussolini expression. 'No, not at all,' he declared. 'Do you feel pity for these people? The man who shot first the day before yesterday knew that it would cost him his life, of course. It would have been bad form not to hang him. Incidentally he has my respect. As for the others - shame on them. Why didn't they put up a fight? They were all long-time Social Democrats and members of the Eiserne Front. Why should they be lying in their beds in their nightshirts? They should have defended themselves and died decently. But they're a limp lot. I have no sympathy for them.'
'I don't know,' I said slowly, 'whether I feel much pity for them, but what I do feel is an indescribable sense of disgust at people who go around heavily armed and slaughter defenceless victims.'
'They should have defended themselves,' said Brock stubbornly. 'Then they wouldn't have been defenceless. That is a disgusting Marxist trick, being defenceless, when it gets serious.'
At this point Holz intervened. 'I consider the whole thing a regrettable revolutionary excess,' he said, 'and between you and me, I expect the responsible officer to be disciplined. But I also think that it should not be overlooked that it was a Social Democrat who shot first. It is understandable, and in a certain sense even justified, that under these circumstances the SA takes, er, very energetic counter-measures.'
It was curious. I could just about stand Brock, but Holz had become a red rag to me. I could not help myself. I felt compelled to insult him.
'It is most interesting for me to hear your new theory of justification,' I said. 'If I am not mistaken, you did once study law?'
He gave me a steely look and elaborately picked up the gauntlet. 'Yes, I have studied law,' he said slowly, 'and I remember that I heard something about state self-defence there. Perhaps you missed that lecture.'
'State self-defence,' I said, 'interesting. You consider that the state is under attack because a few hundred Social Democrat citizens put on nightshirts and go to bed?'
'Of course not,' he said. 'You keep forgetting it was a Social Democrat who first shot two SA men -'
' who had broken into his home.' [I said.]
'Who had entered his abode in the course of their official duty.' [Holz]
'And that allows the state the justification of self-defence against any other citizens? Against me and you?'
'Not against me,' he said, 'but perhaps against you.' He was now looking at me with really steely eyes and I had a funny feeling in the back of my knees.
'You,' he said, 'are always niggling and wilfully ignoring the monumental developments in the resurgence of the German people that are taking place today.' (I can remember the very word 'resurgence' to this day!) 'You grasp at every little excess and split legal hairs to criticise and find fault. You seem to be unaware, I fear, that today people of your ilk represent a latent danger for the state, and that the state has the right and the duty to react accordingly - at the very least when one of you goes so far as to dare to offer open resistance.'
Those were his words, soberly and slowly spoken in the style of a commentary on the Civil Code. All the while he looked at me with those steely eyes.
'If we are dealing in threats,' I said, 'then why not openly? Do you intend to denounce me to the Gestapo?'
About here Von Hagen and Hirsch began to titter, attempting to turn it all into a joke. This time, however, Holz put a spanner in the works. Quietly and deliberately' (and it was only now that I realised, with a certain unexpected satisfaction, how deeply angered he was):
'I admit that for some time I have been wondering whether that is not my duty.'
'Oh' I said. I needed a few moments to taste all the different flavours on my tongue: a little surprise, a little admiration for how far he was prepared to go; a little sourness from the word 'duty', a little satisfaction at how far I had driven him, and a new cool insight: that is the way life is now, and that is how it has changed - and a little fear. Having made a quick assessment of what he might be able to say about me, if he went through with it, I said, 'I must say that it does not speak for the seriousness of your intentions that you have been thinking about it for some time, only to tell me the result of your thoughts.'
'Don't say that,' he said quietly.
Now all the trumps had been played and to raise the stakes further we would have had to become physical. It had all taken place sitting down, while we were smoking. Anyway, the others now intervened and reproachfully tried to calm us both down.
Oddly enough, the political debate continued quietly and bitterly for several hours; but in reality the group had broken up. We made no arrangements for further meetings. Hirsch took leave of me in September, to go to Paris. I had already lost sight of Brock and Holz. I only heard snippets of gossip about their careers in later years. Hessel left for America a year later. The group had been blown apart.
By the way, for a few days I was concerned that Holz really would set the Gestapo on to me. As time passed I realised that he had obviously not done so. It was decent of him really!
Now, what strikes me about Kaminski is that his attitude toward Jews is little different from the attitude of the Bush Reich toward Muslims. It's like the two guys at the beginning of this passage who were described as "Right Wing" and "Revolutionary" who BOTH later joined the Nazi party. This reminds me of something that Lobaczewski mentioned about "opponents" of the Pathocratic regime that later become its most loyal members.
In a pathocracy, all leadership positions, (down to village headman and community cooperative managers, not to mention the directors of police units, and special services police personnel, and activists in the pathocratic party) must be filled by individuals with corresponding psychological deviations, which are inherited as a rule. However, such people constitute a very small percentage of the population and this makes them more valuable to the pathocrats. Their intellectual level or professional skills cannot be taken into account, since people representing superior abilities are even harder to find. After such a system has lasted several years, one hundred percent of all the cases of essential psychopathy are involved in pathocratic activity; they are considered the most loyal, even though some of them were formerly involved on the other side in some way.
Kaminski's ability to betray, and even to lie, with the greatest of ease - as I have now learned to my deep regret - suggests something about him that is highly disturbing. First of all, as my daughter pointed out, he didn't ever seem to feel the least guilt that a group of people had taken up a collection to buy him a ticket to get away from pressures that he was claiming were so unbearable that he was considering checking himself into a mental hospital. And the ease with which he lied to me (I now see) about his reasons strikes me as odd. It reminds me of the following from Lobaczewski:
The suffering and injustice they cause inspire no guilt within them, since such reactions from others are simply a result of their being different and apply only to "those other" people they perceive to be not quite conspecific.
Now, knowing a bit more about how he operates, it gives one a reason to go back over his writings to see if there were any clues from the beginning. Well, we all know that Kaminski writes "passionate" pieces full of FEELING. But in real life, we notice that he doesn't seem to have any of this real feeling for others. It's all a game to him. I am again reminded of something else that Lobaczewski wrote:
Our first contact with the psychopath is characterized by a talkative stream which flows with ease and avoids truly important matters with equal ease if they are uncomfortable for the speaker. His train of thought also avoids those abstract matters of human feelings and values whose representation is absent in the psychopathic world view unless, of course, he is being deliberately deceptive, in which case he will use many "feeling" words which careful scrutiny will reveal that he does not understand those words the same way normal people do. We then also feel we are dealing with an imitation of the thought patterns of normal people, in which something else is, in fact, "normal". From the logical point of view, the flow of thought is ostensibly correct, albeit perhaps removed from commonly accepted criteria. A more detailed formal analysis, however, evidences the use of many suggestive paralogisms.
Lastly, his very "fear" of the study of Ponerology speaks volumes. It seems to me that the only people who would be afraid of it, who would fear it as the underpinnings of a "totalitarian system," are those very individuals who would be exposed by it. As Lobaczewski writes:
This privileged class of deviants feels permanently threatened by the "others", i.e. by the majority of normal people. Neither do the pathocrats entertain any illusions about their personal fate should there be a return to the system of normal man.
A normal person deprived of privilege or high position will go about finding and performing some work which will earn him a living; but pathocrats never possessed any solid practical talent, and the time frame of their rule eliminates any residual possibilities of adapting to the demands of normal work. If the laws of normal man were to be reinstated, they and theirs could be subjected to judgment, including a moralizing interpretation of their psychological deviations; they would be threatened by a loss of freedom and life, not merely a loss of position and privilege. Since they are incapable of this kind of sacrifice, the survival of a system which is the best for them becomes a moral imperative. Such a threat must be battled by means of any and all psychological and political cunning implemented with a lack of scruples with regard to those other "inferior-quality" people that can be shocking in its depravity.
Considering the fact that all I have ever done has been offer kindness and support to Kaminski, his attack is all the more horrifying in its implications. Or so it seems to me.