1. In March i went to the Dachau concentration camp with Yoiks, the owner of Bones. It was a good day for it, temperature a bit below zero, snow, which in mid-March gives you the feeling winter will never end. Outside:
and the altar for the Catholic prisoners:
It was overwhelmingly grim. Many of the visitors were foreign, for example Yoiks and i traipsed through the exhibition halls with a Spanish-speaking couple. At one point, as we were gloomily progressing through the pictures of death and torture, three pretty teenage German girls ran excitedly down the length of the hall, giggling and shouting: “Ja, das ist so geil!”, yes, that is so cool! i stood in their path and gave them a filthy look but they swerved around me, laughing delightedly, without even seeming to see me. i guess they were on a school trip and had started talking about Justin Bieber and then decided to liven things up by running through a museum to Nazi atrocities, laughing gaily.
2. Germans are all force-fed Third Reich history at school and seem to come out with typical juvenile cynicism about the whole thing. There are essentially four types:
i. Juniper, my MILF, who refused to watch the monumental Heimat with me, because “I am not interested in films about the Hitler time” (i said it was set in a small village and has almost nothing to say about the Third Reich or the war, but she just repeated that she has no interest in Hitler and that it is bad and boring and she has no interest in these Nazi films; she also said she hates Rammstein because it is “Nazi music”, and when i pointed out that the band are all left-wingers and anti-Nazis, she just repeated that it is Nazi music and bad and evil;
ii. Young Germans who “did” Nazism at school and find it all boring and have no imaginative or empathic capacity (most likely the girls at Dachau, and most of the apprentices i’ve taught);
iii. Violently left-wing, self-righteous hipsters who will probably grow up to be corporate lawyers, or crackheads with 10 neglected crackhead children;
iv. Germans who acknowledge it happened and go to visit a camp and don’t take the Juniper approach of pretending it never happened, but don’t run around shouting about fascism and The System and Capitalism. There are also real neo-Nazis, usually ignorant smalltown types or criminal thugs, but i don’t think there are so many of these – it’s not fashionable.
3. Afterwards, Yoiks and i talked it over. On Facebook, i often post Daily Mail articles about rapists and murderers and assorted scum, many of whom are Muslim; and Yoiks, i guess, feels i am close to being a Nazi. He is strongly opposed to making any generalisations about religion or race, perhaps because of his origin (Macedonia) and i think he worked with the army in the Balkans. His view is that if someone is a bad person they will express their wickedness through whatever culture they have, so a Muslim will burn his daughter to death if she won’t marry her first cousin, or a Catholic will rape boys. i agree to some extent – i see how people express their essential nature through the forms of each life, though there is often some influence from past lives.
Yoiks seems to think culture is irrelevant, indeed he says it makes absolutely no difference if you are a Muslim or a Christian or atheist, and that his best friend is a Turkish Muslim. However, he then added that his friend eats pork, drinks, has no contact with Islam – and so i would say he’s not actually a Muslim, anymore than i could be said to be a Roman Catholic just because i was baptised in the faith. For myself, i feel that the force of one’s essential nature is very strong, and a bad person will find a way to be bad, in even the best of worlds – and a good person in a bad world too – but i think it’s wrong to say that the culture makes no difference. For if it doesn’t, why did millions of Germans gladly support the Third Reich, and gladly hate other races. Living in Germany now, i would say there are perhaps a few thousand people like this alive today – perhaps tens of thousands – but most of them would be criminal brutes, latent psychopaths, whereas 70 years ago many perfectly normal bourgeois people were glad to see Jews taken away and exterminated.
i believe the difference is culture – that the culture encouraged all that is worst in humanity in the 30s. Nazism succeeded through a peculiar combination of German self-righteousness (most Germans are insanely self-righteous), the humiliation of Versailles, and discipline and order. If the Germans weren’t so extremely self-righteous, and didn’t feel so keenly their loss of eminence and prosperity, it would have been harder to whip them up to a bellicose frenzy, or to take their Jewish neighbours’ property with the sense that, after all, they deserve it. If the Germans weren’t so disciplined, the process of genocide wouldn’t have been quite so extensive and efficient. And so on.
If, as Yoiks maintains, culture makes no difference at all, i don’t see why children should learn anything about the Third Reich at all – if it doesn’t matter what you know or believe, if you are born good or bad and culture is insignificant, then we should just throw our hands up and accept that there is absolutely nothing to do about evil, that it is totally random and reveals no aetiology. And this i don’t believe. i think the “good Germans” were good in part because their culture offered nourishment for their original good, and that if it offered nothing they wouldn’t have sheltered Jews, because their essential nature would have remained stunted and minimal. i speak from my own case, for my nature only developed when i began to read “literature” 17 years ago; before that, i was sentient but in a strange, almost senseless way – i would say like an animal but that this is (or was) normal for animals; for human beings, it is abnormal. i simply encountered very little soil in which the seeds of my being could grow, and so remained mentally and emotionally stunted (physically too: i grew 2 inches between age 19 and 21, and put on a lot of muscle).
4. i thought more about Yoiks’ opposition to viewing people as members of a group, as Muslims or Christians or what have you. i don’t see how it’s possible not to first see the group – it’s how human perception works, that you don’t for example see a tree as a long thin vertical brownish structure with horizontally branching protruberances, you see a tree and only then see the detail (Sartre’s Nausea describes the experience of no longer being able to relate new experiences to old categories – the result, which i experienced myself for a few weeks when i was 21, is of vertiginous confusion). You don’t see a strange human being purely as they are; you see a woman, for example, then that she looks German; then that she’s about such and such an age. Without categories, the experience would be a raw tumult. i doubt many have had the experience of Sartre’s Nausea but it isn’t a delightful clarity – it’s a maddening chaos as your mind can’t make sense of stimuli; i remember even staring at the sky in horror, because i didn’t know what it was.
5. Yoiks himself feels free to make sweeping generalisations about Germans (typically to the effect that most of them are crypto-Nazis). It’s not possible to avoid generalisations and dangerous to pretend you can: Yoiks really seems to feel that most Germans are Nazis, whereas i’m aware that there are probably decent Muslims (i haven’t met any British Muslims who seemed other than barbaric and in some way retarded, but i met two from the Jordan, who were both hospitable, intelligent, humorous, and likeable). The natural activity of the mind should be to relate new experience to old categories, and adjust the categories: so one’s categories should be subtle and have many, many sub-categories, and exceptions – things which just don’t fit. If i met any British Muslims who didn’t tell me white women are all whores and thieves, that blacks and Jews are the children of Satan, and so on, i would reconsider.
6. i would guess that British Muslims don’t feel part of British culture – understandable given the racism (to which my family were subjected, the rich white kids writing PAKI BROWN SHIT etc. on the pavement outside our house), and the systematic, left-wing destruction of native British culture and education – so there is no culture to belong to. My ex-Muslim schoolmate, Shrekh, used to shoplift, and his sisters too. i wondered why, since i doubt his parents taught him to do it and they weren’t poor; perhaps it was because, having fundamentalist Muslim parents, living in an ugly area, receiving no real cultural influence, because the Left had successfully destroyed the native English culture, they felt no attachment whatsoever to anyone else. Culture is the glue that holds us together; it creates an atmosphere of mutual habitation, that you share certain beliefs, knowledge, likes, dislikes, ways of looking at the world. When deep and vital, it is fluid enough to maintain considerable individual difference (as in the military, a shared uniform and group identity allows the individuals to be quite different while being nonetheless comrades in arms). The stronger the culture, the more individual difference it can sustain and absorb. A culture first corrupted and then destroyed offers only alienation, distrust, insincerity, violence, and fear.