learning from the best

Just to advise that the Nazi version of the death camp, the forced labor camp, did not insidiously arise out of thin air, out of a vacuum. The precedent had already been well established; the mold in large measure a fallout from the colonial enterprise, the concept of imperialism in all its full flowering of ugly colors. Lord Kitchener saw almost 15% of the Boer population die from disease and malnutrition in the Boer conflict, a number that far exceeded the approximately 3,500 fighters who perished. But to be fair, to destroy the civilized and noble savage myth, native peoples and the indigenous from the four corners of the world have been equally unscrupulous and even more direct. But leave it to Western man to create the big daddy of twisted ideologies married to racism and the scientific method.

Hitler has been the word’s convenient garbage bag, deflecting study of the origins of the problem that ironically was born and was an adjunct to the flowery ideals of the enlightenment and liberal democracy and even “humanism” and extreme secularism, picked up neatly by Heidegger and his “deep ecology,” and deftly flipped into new contexts and continuing to embed itself in new and deadly  variations of Orientalism, Kahanism and whatever else that can be slimed through our democratic processes. And, as usual, people are making money, lining their pockets through the whole exercise…

From the Guardian. A remarkable piece. ( see link at end) …Over the gates of Auschwitz were the words “Work Makes You Free”. Over the gates of the Solovetsky camp in Lenin’s gulag: “Through Labour – Freedom!”. Over the gates of the Ngenya detention camp, run by the British in Kenya: “Labour and Freedom”. Dehumanisation appears to follow an almost inexorable course.

Last week three elderly Kenyans established the right to sue the British government for the torture that they suffered – castration, beating and rape – in the Kikuyu detention camps it ran in the 1950s.

Many tens of thousands were detained and tortured in the camps. I won’t spare you the details: we have been sparing ourselves the details for far too long. Large numbers of men were castrated with pliers. Others were raped, sometimes with the use of knives, broken bottles, rifle barrels and scorpions. Women had similar instruments forced into their vaginas. The guards and officials sliced off ears and fingers, gouged out eyes, mutilated women’s breasts with pliers, poured paraffin over people and set them alight. Untold thousands died….

—Felix Nussbaum: Organ Grinder, 1943 – oil on canvas (Felix-Nussbaum-Haus Osnabrück, loan from the Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung)
Source: The astounding catalogue raisonné of Felix Nussbaum’s oeuvre…Read More:http://i12bent.tumblr.com/post/2176990947/felix-nussbaum-organ-grinder-1943-oil-on

The government’s secret archive, revealed this April, shows that the attorney general, the colonial governor and the colonial secretary knew what was happening. The governor ensured that the perpetrators had legal immunity: including the British officers reported to him for roasting prisoners to death. …

Little distinguishes the British imperial project from any other. In all cases the purpose of empire was loot, land and labour. When people resisted (as some of the Kikuyu did during the Mau Mau rebellion), the response everywhere was the same: extreme and indiscriminate brutality, hidden from public view by distance and official lies.

Successive governments have sought to deny the Kikuyu justice: destroying most of the paperwork, lying about the existence of the rest, seeking to have the case dismissed on technicalities. Their handling of this issue, and the widespread British disavowal of what happened in Kenya, reflects the way this country has been brutalised by its colonial history. Empire did almost as much harm to the imperial nations as it did to their subject peoples.

—Birkin was another artist who started to paint many years after the war ended. In A Camp of Twins the vivid colours of Birkin’s faces show the nightmare, the grief, the loneliness that she, and so many others, experienced. Birkin who said: “How many people stop to think that the six million dead were individual human beings with dreams of their own, each with a story to tell, each wanting to live? This is why the people in my paintings are depicted in different colours.”—Read More:http://suite101.com/article/imperial-war-museum-unspeakable-a69854

In his book Exterminate All the Brutes, Sven Lindqvist shows how the ideology that led to Hitler’s war and the Holocaust was developed by the colonial powers.

erialism required an exculpatory myth. It was supplied, primarily, by British theorists.

In 1799 Charles White began the process of identifying Europeans as inherently superior to other peoples. By 1850 the disgraced anatomist Robert Knox had developed the theme into fully fledged racism. His book The Races of Man asserted that dark-skinned people were destined to be enslaved and then annihilated by the “lighter races”. Dark meant almost everyone: “What a field of extermination lies before the Saxon, Celtic and Sarmatian races!”

Remarkable as it may sound, this view soon came to dominate British thought. In common with most of the political class, W Winwood Reade, Alfred Russell Wallace, Herbert Spencer, Frederick Farrar, Francis Galton, Benjamin Kidd and even Charles Darwin saw the extermination of dark-skinned people as an inevitable law of nature. Some of them argued that Europeans had a duty to speed it up: both to save the integrity of the species and to put the inferior “races” out of their misery.

—The fate of these Russians was one of the best kept secrets of the war. As many as could surrendered to American and British forces, trusting that they would eventually be able to settle somewhere outside the Soviet Union. But in February 1945, at the Yalta conference, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to Stalin’s demand that they be handed over to him. The anti-Soviet Russians in the hands of the western allies would therefore be betrayed. To carry out the repatriation order, American and British servicemen often had to resort to deception and brute force. No one doubted what was in store for the Russians once they were in Soviet hands. Many were executed on the spot.
Painting by Nikolai Getman (Gulag survivor): Prisoners waiting for their execution—Read More:http://transsylvaniaphoenix.blogspot.ca/

These themes were picked up by German theorists. In 1893 Alexander Tille, drawing on British writers, claimed that “it is the right of the stronger race to annihilate the lower”. In 1901 Friedrich Ratzel argued in Der Lebensraum that Germany had a right and duty, like Europeans in the Americas, to displace “primitive peoples”. In Mein Kampf, Hitler explained that the German empire’s eastward expansion would mirror the western and southern extension of British interests. He systematised and industrialised what imperial nations had been doing for five centuries. The scale was greater, the location different, the ideology broadly the same.

I believe that the brutalisation of empire also made the pointless slaughter of the first world war possible. A ruling class that had shut down its feelings to the extent that it could engineer a famine in India in the 1870s in which between 12 million and 29 million people died was capable of almost anything. Empire had tested not only the long-range weaponry that would be deployed in northern France, but also the ideas.

Nor have we wholly abandoned them. Commenting on the Kikuyu case in the Daily Mail, Max Hastings charged that the plaintiffs had come to London “to exploit our feeble-minded justice system”. Hearing them “represents an exercise in state masochism”. I suspect that if members of Hastings’ club had been treated like the Kikuyu, he would be shouting from the rooftops for redress. But Kenyans remain, as colonial logic demanded, the other, bereft of the features and feelings that establish our common humanity….

—Refuting the Jamestown Foundation’s claim that Getman’s art is the only visual record of the Gulag, the website of Eufrosinia Kersnovskaya’s extraordinary and evocative illustrations of her twelve years in the Gulag allows the pictures to speak for themselves. Only the introductory section of the website so far been translated into English (one hopes that ultimately the whole site will be translated), but the Kersnovskaya Foundation has made a number of images available under a Creative Commons License via Wikipedia, including this one of women huddled together in a bathhouse, ‘Banya on cold stone floor: even the guard in the fur coat didn’t look too warm’—Read More:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2009/10/03/gulag-art/

So, in the eyes of much of the elite, do welfare recipients, “problem families”, Muslims and asylum seekers. The process of dehumanisation, so necessary to the colonial project, turns inwards. Until this nation is prepared to recognise what happened and how it was justified, Britain, like the countries it occupied, will remain blighted by imperialism.Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/08/empire-torture-kenya-catastrophe-europe

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