Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy SnyderThe Continuing Struggle Against Civilisation
Black Earth is a remarkable re-interpretation of the Holocaust. Snyder goes beyond the statistical and sociological facts of mass murder in order to understand the underlying evil of the disaster. And he succeeds. His acute insights and narrative skills in the introductory chapter alone are worth the entire price of admission.
According to Snyder, Hitlers attempt to annihilate the Jews was not racially motivated nor was it concerned with religion as such. Hitlers intention was ecological and intellectual - to reverse the growing disequilibrium introduced to the planet by Jews as the carriers not of defective genetic material but of corrupt ideas.
To restore this ecological equilibrium, it was necessary to rid the world of the corrupting influence of Jewish ideas. The most important of these ideas is the distinction made by Jews between nature and morality. Morality is an invention of the Jewish mind which contradicts the laws of nature by limiting the strong through the collective power of the weak. Morality in all its insidious variants must be identified and rooted out.
Authentic politics, for example, must conform with the demands of nature, according to the chief political philosopher of the Reich, Carl Schmitt. Schmitt reasons that political power must be exercised only by the strong in their own interests (see for more on Schmitt: https:///review/show... also the addendum below). Both Capitalist and Communist politics are divorced from nature because they have been conceived from Jewish distortions of natural law. The only authentic politics is one of persecution.
Nature is also political so that science is the study of how best to conform to the reality of nature. Reality is a world in which competition for survival - among nations not with nature - provides the only test of scientific or any other truth. Any scientific concepts which do not advance this competition are unnatural and, by definition, Jewish.
According to this view, therefore, Hitler was not irrationally or un-pragmatically hateful of Jews. He had a very clear rationality that was based on very reasonable presumptions and clear criteria of success, namely that it was indeed Jewish thinkers who had made the moral break with nature as attested in the Bible and other sacred scriptures.
Further, since it had been the self-confessed mission of the Jews, considered by them to be divinely mandated, to maintain this distinction between nature and morality, that is between the world and its creator, and to pass it down from generation to generation forever, the historical link to these ideas must be eliminated. QED: Jews must be destroyed.
Snyders somewhat startling message is that Hitler viewed the Jews not as corrupters of civilisation but as the creators of civilisation. Civilisation itself, in its recognition of ideals like mutual respect and peace; in its encouragement of virtues like compassion and intellectual ambition, is the problem that the Third Reich was intended to solve. Jews in other words were not racially inferior; they had no race. Hence the term mongrels which referred to the fundamentally un-natural position of Jews in the world. It was the absence of Jewish racial conscience and racial competitiveness that was their sin.
Whether or not you are persuaded by Snyders rhetoric (as I am), you will not be able to forget its logic nor the challenge of its conclusions. The reason for continuing anti-Semitism, especially in the United States and in Europe, is precisely because of the continuing war against civilisation, the principles and aims of which are still those articulated by Hitler.
The implications for how one sees recent elections in the US and Europe are staggering. Trump, for example, is clearly pursuing the programme for the destruction of civilised society outlined by Hitler. Trusting in the robustness of American institutions to withstand this assault may be as pointless as it was in Germany in 1933.
Another GR reader (see comments) alerted me to the similarity between the Nazi thesis about nature and that of the early 19th century Catholic philosopher, Joseph de Maistre. De Maistres vision of life is certainly as bloody as that of the leaders of the Third Reich as summarised in this excerpt from his Soirees de Saint Petersbourg:
In the whole vast dome of living nature there reigns an open violence, a kind of prescriptive fury which arms all the creatures to their common doom: as soon as you leave the inanimate kingdom you find the decree of violent death inscribed on the very frontiers of life. You feel it already in the vegetable kingdom: from the great catalpa to the humblest herb, how many plants die and how many are killed! but, from the moment you enter the animal kingdom, this law is suddenly in the most dreadful evidence. A power, a violence, at once hidden and palpable, has in each species appointed a certain number of animals to devour the others: thus there are insects of prey, reptiles of prey, birds of prey, fishes of prey, quadrupeds of prey. There is no instant of time when one creature is not being devoured by another. Over all these numerous races of animals man is placed, and his destructive hand spares nothing that lives. He kills to obtain food and he kills to clothe himself; he kills to adorn himself; he kills in order to attack and he kills to defend himself; he kills to instruct himself and he kills to amuse himself; he kills to kill. Proud and terrible king, he wants everything and nothing resists him…from the lamb he tears its guts to make his harp resound… from the wolf his most deadly tooth to polish his pretty works of art; from the elephant his skin to make a whip for his child—his table is covered with corpses…. And who [in this general carnage] exterminates him who will exterminate all the others? Himself. It is man who is charged with the slaughter of man…. So is accomplished…the great law of the violent destruction of living creatures. The whole earth, perpetually steeped in blood, is nothing but a vast altar upon which all that is living must be sacrificed without end, without measure, without pause, until the consummation of things, until evil is extinct, until the death of death.
Schmitt was a self-confessed admirer of de Maistre as a political realist, by which he meant one who knew how to distinguish between friends and enemies. Schmitt is de Maistres equal in dismissing the sentimentality of liberal ideas of human nature. Where he differs from de Maistre is his rejection (by silence) of providential action in the world. De Maistre considered the French Revolution a punishment by God for a European sinfulness for example.
Schmitt rejects this sort of theological meddling as unnatural. Schmitt had a new Darwinian foundation that was unavailable to de Maistre, and he made the most of it to justify the separation of politics and ethics. Or rather to create an ethic closer to the divine and, incidentally of course, supportive of genocide. It was God after all, operating through the laws of natural selection, who demanded the natural ascendancy of the strong. God has established the rule of survival of the fittest. It was man who broke that rule. Even God had been subtly naturalised by Schmitt. De Maistre had shown the way.
With Natural Law, you pick your desired outcome, and then work backwards to suitable premisses. Paul of Tarsus did it. Thomas Aquinas did it. De Maistre did it. And Schmitt did it. None of them liked the Jews very much. Seems like a pattern. See, for more on the perils of Natural Law: https:///review/show.... And for more on how it affects recent philosophical thinking see: https:///review/show....
When should you use repetition to create parallelism?
Parallelism, which means the use of identical or equivalent syntactic constructions in corresponding clauses or phrases. Parallelism refers to the repetition of sentence structure or word order to achieve a rhythmical effect. The overall effect is that sentence parts seem to rhyme. More importantly, the thoughts that these parts express are either repeated or contrasted. Repetition is a great way to create rhythm in an artwork. To create a sense of return. President Kennedy makes frequent use of parallelism and antithesis in his Inaugural Address.
Emphasis in writing is important not only to create variety and maintain interest but also to help readers easily glean the main points from the text. The subject and associated verb in an independent clause are the elements that generally receive the most notice by readers, so that is often where you will want to make your point. Short, snappy sentences are naturally emphatic. Though effective when used sparingly, they lose their power when overused. In order to give more meaning to your writing and to help readers understand which ideas are most important, combine short, related sentences in order to make writing smoother and to create emphasis. One of the best ways to emphasize main ideas and de-emphasize less important ideas is through coordination and subordination of sentence parts.
Despite my enormous love of language and the written word, I could never really get into the arcane field of rhetoric. I was the kid in English class who insisted that the distinction between a simile and a metaphor wasn't really that significant. And when it comes to the terms for rhetorical devices listed below, I'll admit that I can't tell my anastrophe from my prothysteron. As you might imagine, most of these terms derive from Greek with a minority from Latin; those folks in antiquity sure knew how to be rhetorical! The definitions below include terms taken from a variety of dictionaries and sources, and inevitably, some of these literary devices overlap to a significant degree or indeed, are synonymous. Anyone who would care to work up some example sentences for all of these would have the eternal gratitude of the Internet. I hope you have found this site to be useful.
Parallel structure is repeating the same pattern of words or phrases within a sentence or passage to show that two or more ideas are equally important. Repetition can be avoided by using parallel structure only at key points in the text. Items in a series, coordinating ideas, and repetition. A parallel structure is using repetition of words to demonstrate equal importance in a sentence. When you use the same grammatical pattern in your sentence to compare ideas, you make a parallel construction.