(Image: Article 1 of Germany’s constitution, “Human dignity is inviolable”, inscribed on the walls of the Regional Court of Frankfurt, Main, at the request of Fritz Bauer)
Fritz Bauer, Attorney General in the Auschwitz trial, said in an interview for the Hessian Radio (HR) in 1964 that he was waiting for “the tiniest sign of humanness” from the people sitting in the prosecution bench towards the surviving witnesses whose families had been completely wiped out. The victims’ families, all of Germany and the world could breathe a sigh of relief then [arte film documentary “Fritz Bauer, Generalstaatsanwalt, Nazi-Jäger”; 42:38]. But nothing of the sort happened. At the beginning of the trial they all pleaded “innocent” and stayed with it until their final plea, even though they had to admit in the course of the trial that their behaviour had cost lives. What should they have done? After all, orders were orders. “Befehlsnotstand”, as the German wording goes. The same thing happened in the other war crimes trials: the Nuremberg Main Trial, the Nuremberg Medical Trial, the Bergen-Belsen Trial, the Ravensbrück Trial, the Dachau Trial, the Mauthausen Trial, the Buchenwald Trial, the Flossenbürg Trial, the Mühldorf Trial and the Eichmann Trial. Would it have been so awful – guilty or innocent – to express some sympathy for the fates of those affected and their families, as is not only customary but inevitable in personal encounters?
Considering that the few hundred who were held accountable in court are representative of the leadership, many of whom escaped justice by fleeing the country or committing suicide, and considering that tens of thousands of employees were actively and directly involved in the extermination machine, and considering further that the common people, who silently collaborated, were unable to talk about their wartime pasts until the mid-1960s, then it is fair to say that, apart from its symbolic effect, the legal examination of the Nazi reign of terror has been a failure. Leading Nazis were able to obtain lucrative and responsible posts in both German states, Austria and also with the Allies, which signals that no effective denazification took place in society either. What is quite certain, however, is that psychological processing, disassociation and reconciliation on a human level were practically completely absent. Nowhere did perpetrators stand by their deeds after the end of the Third Reich.
This allows for two possible conclusions.Firstly, that the war crimes trials produced gigantic legal misjudgments or else equally gigantic legal abuses – in other words, that those sentenced to death were actually not guilty. This is contrary to the apparent evidence of a massive flood of clues, testimonies and proofs, as well as to the simple logic of totalitarian regimes, as can be observed elsewhere, and would be tantamount to Holocaust denial. I would like to leave that aside for ontological and ethical reasons. The second possible conclusion seems psychologically more logical anyway and more probable from experience: that the accused – and with them all those who actively or passively participated in the crimes of the regime but remain silent to this day – are incapable of admitting the evil of their deeds to themselves or to others, and that they are therefore unable under any circumstances to show human emotions, such as Fritz Bauer would have expected from people who had committed a mistake but remained basically decent: There was no admission, no mea culpa, no regret, no remorse, no apology, no reparation. And people like Günter Grass lied or remained silent about their SS membership all their lives. This conspicuous absence of human emotion in the face of the most atrocious crimes prompted Fritz Bauer to quote Hölderlin:
You see craftsmen, but no human beings, thinkers, but no human beings, priests, but no human beings, masters and servants, boys and set people, but no human beings.
The Third Reich is by no means an exception. The same applies to active participants in the GDR dictatorship, in the Soviet Union and the fascist dictatorships of Southern Europe, for the collaborators in France, Quislings in Norway, the countries of the BeNeLux and from the fascist and later real-socialist vassals Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, etc. It was the victors who exhibited individual faces of the overthrown regime in show trials and then had their heads rolled for public effect. There was no atonement, no reconciliation, and therefore no new beginning. On the contrary: Helmut Kramer, former judge at the Regional Court of Braunschweig, reported that resentment against emigrants and opponents of the regime had formed among the people because they had allegedly “evaded their responsibility”. Bauer’s hope that the complete discrediting of anti-Semitism would finally make reconciliation between Jews and non-Jews possible was perhaps dashed because the perpetrators assumed that their victims were not capable of this. Yet it was the perpetrators and their sympathisers who lacked both empathy and imagination and thus the will to make peace with the past, the victims, the emigrants and the members of the resistance.
Thinking about the time after the Corona dictatorship, this gives me a sense of foreboding. After all, making a comparison with Germany’s years of terror means for me not only looking at their conditions of origin, their mechanisms of repression and manifestations of violence in order to be able to correctly assess their counterparts in the present, but also to reflect on their end and their overcoming. In view of the fatal post-war years, it is to be feared that parliamentarians who voted for the Enabling Act will assume the most prestigious office in the new state, that torture doctors will head medical associations, that wartime engineers will continue to provide destructive technologies, that ordinary block watchmen will become mayors,that the informers of yesteryear continue to defend the government against the people, that mobs of thugs become policemen, that murderers of the judiciary are now to dispense justice, that a member of the old junta heads a state government, or that the flatterers of the Ancien Regime are allowed to lull the people even after the collapse, as happened in the early FRG.
It is not hard to identify such personalities in our time. It will be more difficult to convince the affronted silent majority not to fall into the same trap again, but to open up to another possible reality: conviviality (literally: living with one another), which says goodbye to disenfranchisement through mass production and to the institutionalisation of all human activities, from learning to mobility and the distribution of goods to health care and the celebration of one’ s faith.
What gives me confidence is the high number, by German standards, of groups that have formed in response to the worsening barbarism; they strive to counter blind obedience to the rules with education and appeals to compassion. It is striking that apart from numerous quasi-religious reactions – from silence to ridicule, distortion of facts, personal vilification, existential and violent threats to actual deplatforming, beatings, imprisonments and assassinations – there is no engagement with the content of the critics of the measures. Therefore, at this point, and hopefully only for the time being, I must conclude my text with an excerpt from Fritz Bauer’s Hölderlin quote:
The virtues of the Germans, however, are a shining evil and nothing more; for they are only makeshift, wrested with slave labour from the empty heart out of cowardly fear, and leave every pure soul desolate, which […] cannot bear the discordant sound that is shrieking in all the dead order of these people. […] And that is why they fear death so much, and suffer all humiliation for the sake of their oyster life, because they do not know anything higher than the fabrication they have stitched for themselves. […] I spoke for all those who are in this country and suffer as I suffered there. I now wanted to leave Germany again. I no longer sought anything among this people, I was offended enough by relentless insults, I did not want my soul to bleed to death completely among such people.
But Hyperion returns, not for the sake of the people but for the sake of his beloved and the beautiful country. And he remarks conciliatorily:
Like the quarrels of lovers are the dissonances of the world. Reconciliation is in the midst of strife and all that is divided finds itself together again.
(Friedrich Hölderlin: Hyperion, Book 2 Tübingen, Cotta, 1799)
Charles Eisenstein recently, like so many times before, mentioned that he received his life as a gift: It wasn’t for his effort that he came into this world, it wasn’t for his effort that his mother nursed him, it wasn’t for his effort that there are drinkable water and breathable air to support his ongoing existence. In other words, our lives are not earned by anything we do; we just receive them. The natural response to it is gratitude and the wish to give in turn.
The meaning of that insight, for activism, it struck me, suggests that it is not in our hands. by performing any specific actions or set of actions, whether we get granted a better life, another day, another month, another year in this world. Every day is a new gift, every experience is another gift. To be an activist, in this sense, means to live in the gift, to give and be given. To be an activist is to act in accordance with the highest truth you know – heedless of any specific outcome. It may include that you stand for the truth you feel even if it is likely to kill you – not that you seek it out, but you are ready for it because you know that declining to live from another place than truth sometimes draws spiteful attention of those who would break you for their “cause”.
People today usually call that stubbornness or even extremism, but what it actually is about is radical sincerity, coherence, or love of what-is. They call it extreme because insincerity, cognitive dissonance, utilitarianism, lack of identity and a whole range of other such conditions have become so commonplace as to count as normal. But it’s not who we are. It’s not the human condition to be that way, they are just reflective of civilization, the culture of the trauma. This culture and its adherents are refusing their gifts in the same way they are refusing what’s real.
(Title image: Franz von Stuck – “Die Sünde” [‘Sin,’ 1893])
When in Germany’s 1970s I went through my first post-birth decade, living in sin was still a hot topic. Do you know this phrase? Have you heard it before? My mother would have done it had her preferred partner joined in; his cowardice spared her the social stigma of living in a “wilde Ehe”, as Germans called it, staying together as an unmarried couple. That’s what living in sin meant back then. It was a time when bearing a fatherless child was almost as bad as living in sin and barred you from renting a place. It was a time when Europe’s inner borders were real obstacles and Italy was still an exotic country that many Germans could not afford visiting. People used to season their food with pepper and salt rather than oregano or soy sauce. By the beginning of the following decade, when neoliberalism started to corrode not only religion but also folk culture and social coherence the term went out of use quickly. Instead of pepper & salt it was Salt’n’Pepa, and instead of squeamish gender relations it was Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!
The 70s were the heyday of Ivan Illich’s popularity. His books sold like hot cakes and became staples in intellectual circles. The Catholic priest, having suspended his office after a clash with the Roman Inquisition, related stunning insights into society’s functioning – or rather, malfunctioning – with his claim that secular society was the perverted successor of the medieval church. Forgive me, by the way, for speaking of Illich so often recently. In the process of translating a book on him I am currently finding numerous anchoring points for my own worldview in his thinking. I’m not a religious man (nor a religious woman, haw haw!) but his writings hit some nerve. After three decades of confusing organized religion with faith I begin to understand the place of religious belief in a human being’s life; considering their historical and spiritual background, various Christian concepts start to make sense. While my Mom’s generation still dreaded getting perceived as sinful – which was equal to being guilty of a religious crime – Illich introduced a new, and at the same time original – meaning of sin: When helping others is happening only according to the rules rather than following an inner calling; when you help because you must, and when you don’t because you mustn’t or needn’t. David Cayley explained it like this:
Sin, in this new context, no longer means just a violation of the law, but something more — a coldness or indifference to what has been revealed and made possible.
— David Cayley, The Rivers North of the Future
You can read more about that kind of sin in my article NO MASK NO ENTRY. This blog, too, is all about sin although I won’t mention it much. Instead, I’ll expose the machine-like coldness of societies perceiving themselves as the free-est while they are unable to trust the individual with acting responsibly in times of crisis; societies where “care” has become a legal term, the business of national institutions, and the duty of citizens – in other words, the foundation of medical tyranny. Living in Sin came into existence as a reply to the question of a friend who asked me about the due response to crises like the one we are currently going through. Like with Eugen Drewermann’s Holy-Thursday interview about how to face the rise of transhumanism (we’ll come to that much later) it may seem like my response is avoiding the point, i.e. giving directions. Yet it really is a very large-scope answer to precisely that request.
The Corona Dichotomy
As easy as the similarities between the Industrialized World today and early-stages totalitarian rule are to notice, most people seem to have a hard time seeing them. Maybe that’s so because they are focused on the fear of getting sick or dying from Covid19. But that fear has been triggered deliberately and unwarrantedly. Thirteen months into this fake pandemic and almost as many months of direct observation and research into the facts and gas lighting around Corona/Covid19 leave no doubt to me that there has never been a virus-induced threat to “public health”, much less so to “mankind”. The WHO itself inadvertently confirmed that the infection fatality rate is 0.14%, the range of an ordinary flu. Not exactly the bio-weapon some suspect to having been launched on us. A natural thinning of the herd looks different as well, something in the range of fifty to one hundred times higher. While everyone anxiously watches the latest “case” figures the so-called measures are driving fattened unsuspecting sheep to the collateral slaughterhouse, by orders of magnitude greater than the virus supposedly does. I spare you the long list of ways how the Corona régime – not the virus – is hurting, crippling and killing people, the healthy and the sick alike, to the hundreds of millions.
Far from belittling the trouble of those who count among the really severe cases of Covid19, I dare say that we totally lost perspective. Others didn’t. There is evidence in excess that Dr.osten, inventor of the Corona PCR test, and the German government knew from the start – and if they knew, everybody knew – that they were causing immense damage on the basis of an ordinary flu-like infection, that the test cannot indicate infection, that the actual testing practice gathers mostly false-positive “cases”, that the cumulative display of decontextualized numbers creates the false impression of urgency, and that there is no such thing as asymptomatic corona infection. What we are seeing here is monstrous medical malpractice, panic-mongering, corruption, currency scam, disaster profiteering, science sell-out, power-grabbing, surveillance, and social engineering.
Yes, I have decided for myself which side of the Corona dichotomy I regard as more truthful; because not only have the official facts been doctored, and not only is their interpretation warped; the larger picture has been masked out completely. Like the majority of good citizens, you may disagree with me on the first two points. That’s fine. The third one feels most important anyway. To me it’s not so much about which figures or information sources each of us believes. Even if I were wrong, and even if we were in the midst of another bubonic plague the responsibility for the health of each person, from my perspective, belongs with each person itself. I am not – nobody is – God-Almighty in whose hands rest the lives and deaths of neighbours, nations, or all humankind. For this is what the neoliberally-twisted idea of “solidarity” – which Illich called sin – and the totalitarian approach to medicine amount to. Enter the age-old program of control with its epic battle of man vs nature. It’s playing out right here, right now, denying the existence of anything but the virus. We already know that this approach is never going to work in the intended way but will result in utter devastation. There is more to life than mere survival, and all of that other stuff needs our attention if survival has to make sense. Once we remember this very simple truth the question of what we should do to survive turns into, How do I, how do we, want to live?
The costs of systematic objectification
Members of our insane culture love to think that they, as subjects, members of the supposed master race, were somewhat in control of their lives. Little are they aware that they have become a mere resource to the machine we call society, just as much objects as trees or furniture or toilet paper or germs. It’s not us who control a virus, this is the so-called health care system controlling us, keeping us locked in permanent survival mode. We pay dearly for the safety we seek. Derrick Jensen writes in The Culture of Make Believe,
As we enjoy the comforts and elegancies our way of life affords, and as we stand amidst the embers of a smoldering and dying planet, we should ask ourselves, too, what this systematic objectification costs—not only them, but us.
What about masks getting pressed into birthing mothers’ faces? Children growing up without the experience of smiling faces, hugs and kisses? Old people being prevented from seeing their family before they die? The criminalization of dance, singing, birthday parties and walks in the sun? People getting reduced to labels such as “risk-group member”, “potential spreader”, “corona denier” and all the rest of the perverse dehumanizing newspeak terms? It’s the kind of health “care” which works in the same logic as defending freedom and democracy with machines of mass destruction. It’s the one-track mind in war mode, blinkered gaze fixed on the enemy. Tunnel vision. Too many people completely ignore the immense suffering the government-sponsored mass psychosis and the pseudo-measures result in. The ghastly vision of “Compulsory survival in a planned and engineered Hell” has become our somewhat surreal reality. When you follow that program you abolish your humanity, and when you attempt to make me follow as well you abolish mine. I find the situation truly barbaric and unbearable, and I’d rather be dead than having to exist under a perpetuation of this current régime. I mean it. Over. my. dead. body.
Is there no other way?
I personally believe that accepting vulnerability as a fact of life and embracing it serves us better. I’m not demanding of anyone, though, that they stop trying to protect themselves or their loved ones. I’m all for people organizing common responses, and the institutions may help those who would participate, but I find any threatening, forcing or punishing people into obeying the “measures”, all the lockstepping and social pressuring and witchhunting unacceptable. Even under the control paradigm, no well-meaning government or physician would have caused the kind of panic the régime and its quisling doctors are whipping up. The amount of lies and violence are staggering once you start noticing them. Who would act this way? Are the leading figures not showing signs of psychopathy? Didn’t they already for a long time? Have they been credible, honest, selfless, empathic, caring most of the time, or rather the opposite? What are their competences anyway? Why does anybody still listen to them?
Perhaps you noted the difference between my warning of dehumanization and the pandemicists’ warning of health threats: it’s voluntary vs violent, free vs dictated. It’s a line you can always draw, to discern which side of the Great Divide things around you belong to. You can apply it to the responses on the numerous crises converging at our time and age, all of which are an expression of the one original crisis: our misjudgment of who we are and why we are here – the misjudgment which created civilization.
Being trained in allopathic treatments and having seen some of the other treatments and health paradigms available I know of alternatives to the crass behaviour acted out all over the place. Pandemicists don’t want to hear about it, and that makes it all the more obvious how wrong this whole killer-virus narrative is, health wise, biologically, economically, socially, spiritually, morally, statistically. I have trouble responding to people who take it seriously. They make me feel like I’ve been born to the wrong planet, a place where they sell nonsense as reason. Recalling early childhood memories, it always felt like that: strange. Fifty years on, it’s loony bin on steroids. Having skipped alien-psychology classes I’m at a loss what to do about the evil spell most people in industrialized countries fell under. Sometimes it drives me nuts. When I come to my senses again I tell myself that it’s ok. Like with their health, I am neither responsible for people’s being truthfully-informed nor for their intellectual sanity. I do my share – voluntarily – in the place and to the degree I am able to, and that’s that. Their knowledge and beliefs are their concern; they are fully entitled to having them. Pointless to engage in a debate over sources and numbers: mediated knowledge does not equal truth, statistical figures do no justice to living beings, science cannot establish wise action.
Once again: The sticking point to me is the imposition of supposed solutions, not their effectiveness in the firsts place.
So there we are in the midst of a thicket of crises only one of which is getting broad attention currently. After 2000 words I offered, you may still feel I haven’t answered your one burning question: What should you do? What am I proposing or expecting everyone to do? Having told what I am against, what am I for? The answer is implicit in those 2000 words. I bet it’s even there in your mind, brushed off as unpractical, impossible, utopian. Three examples of people popped up who received a similar response from their audience. I’ll give all three of them, to hammer my point in.
Social philosopher Marianne Gronemeyer once related a story about her colleague and teacher Ivan Illich (did I mention him already?). A carpenter once questioned him by remarking, “What I find most astonishing is that you purport your thinking to be doing”, as if he was wondering what one has to do with the other. Illich, not amused, sourly responded: “I should say so!”, for It was all practical! When he spoke of the example of the Samaritan, of the Sermon on the Mount, or of putting a ceiling to the use of technology, it was not merely a philosophical consideration, it was meant for practical application.
Another example of ignored wisdom comes from Jiddu Krishnamurti. On one of his talks given in Ojai, California, in the 60s he was asked how it was possible to do what he said. His answer was an energetic, “Do it! Do it! For a second do it!” This seemed to baffle the asker. After five seconds of silence came another question: “How?” Krishnamurti smiled. “You know, I said the other day, The word ‘how’ is the most mysterious word, because somebody wants somebody else to tell you how to do it. (The real revolution #1, 17’30” ff). Krishnamurti was not inclined to take the role of a teacher or leader. For him, his talks were not about telling others what to do, but for his audience to discover the truth that is already in them and to act accordingly: “You yourself are the teacher, the pupil, the master, the guru, the leader – you are everything! And to understand is to transform what-is.” (The real revolution #1, 27’13” ff).
Example 3: This Holy Thursday, April 1st, 2021, Eugen Drewermann, psychotherapist, theologian, and one of the most famous contemporary critics of the Catholic Church, gave a two-hour-long interview to Robert Cibis, film maker, on some of the core issues around the so-called pandemic (ep. 40 in the Narrative series). The word Corona rarely came up, though. The talk was all about being oneself in the face of enormous pressures from the groups we belong to. Near the end, one viewer asked Drewermann about the most effective way of resistance. What some in the audience wanted, was “rather practical” advice. In his reply, he more or less continued with his analysis as before, as if to make the point that this was it; this was the thing people needed to hear. What they perceive as purely philosophical, merely theoretical, is in fact the core understanding that needs to be taken seriously. Because if you do so, you will develop the necessary steps all by yourself, without needing anyone to tell you what you should or should not be doing: “What is important here, from my perspective”, said Drewermann, “is that you follow your own perceptions and stay the humane course.” (2:09:00 ff) He then relates a request put before the novelist and philosopher Hermann Hesse whose young and rebellious critics felt he hadn’t made his message clear enough. Hesse replied something along the following lines: “Do exactly as they say, follow orders, don’t complain and everybody will be very happy with you. But when you start to see your neighbour as someone just as human as yourself you’ll stop following orders. Suddenly, everyone is against you. But you were yourself. And once that happens, the most important step is done. Everything else will result from there.”
How the World changes
We need the individual who has the courage to speak out what he believes, and what he thinks is right. The dissenters are definitely much more important than those marching along, the exceptions more important than the rules, because that is where the potential for renewal is. And without the courage to be an individual, every group degenerates. It becomes inhumane. (43:01 ff)
The courage to be an individual is the condition of entry into a humane form of living together. Those who dare not do this not only betray themselves, they betray everyone by proving them right: “You are correct, after all, because you all do the same thing.” That is exactly why all of them are wrong: because they do not live their own lives […] If you do not dare that, the world will never change. (43:21 ff)
To address the question, “If a society seeks to mitigate what it sees as a crisis, how can/should it be done? What if any kinds of ‘threat’ to health deserve a broad social response?”, my reply is: It cannot be answered. I can tell you my opinion but my opinion is not society’s opinion, and the US society’s opinion is not the Ugandan, Indian or German society’s opinion, so my opinion is pointless in the frame-set of this question. Furthermore, “what if” indicates an hypothetical question about a risk (which itself is not a real danger, just a statistical chance). So, again, taking the above question at face value, there is nothing I could advice as a solution to the actual situation you might see yourself in.
The problem resides in the assumptions underlying the question: that society’s evaluation of its situation as critical is correct; that there is a universal, optimal form of society; that society should act as one; that society can act like one person; that risks need responses; that there is one right way to respond; that this one right way can be found; that something (morals, laws, rules…) requires everyone to walk the one right way.
The way out of the predicament is through getting rid of the assumptions to get a fresh look at the situation. Consequently I’m not asking you to consider, What if the government, the pundits, the mass media, the majority are wrong? It’s irrelevant whether their assessment is right or wrong. What Illich, Krishnamurti, Drewermann, Hesse and I would like for you to understand is the following: No one can take the weight of personal inner and outer inquiry from you. No one can take the responsibility to act from your own best understanding from you. You may choose to collaborate with others, ask for advice or listen to proposals but you may not hide behind external rules, forces, traditions, morals, orders, standards, etc. Those do not legitimate the neglect to make up your own mind. There is no such thing as Utopia, no one right way to be, to act, to react, no universal solutions. There is no guaranteed success. One size does not fit all. If only everyone acted in unison and followed the prescribed method would lead straight to disaster – as we can see. So forget the experts. Each situation is unique, just like each human, each river, each atom is unique. It requires you to create your individual relationship to it so you can develop your personal response. What you should do and how you ought to do it can therefore never be automatically derived from the facts, never be standardized, never be imposed, never be ordered, never be totally unified.
Those who sell us control-based universal solutions are themselves creating the problem. Control does not compute, period. So don’t act for the effect of it, don’t ask for success, don’t get attached to a specific outcome. Drewermann:
The question is not whether we achieve something, whether we succeed. When we think like that, we stay forever dependent […] We don’t have to take responsibility for how the whole world is, but we have the goddamn responsibility for ourselves, and we should do what we see as the right thing. We can spread the word, we can advertise it; whether it is heard, whether the peace movement makes progress, whether politics changes, the economy changes, culture changes … I can try. And I do. But it doesn’t matter whether it’s worthwhile. It may fail. It may be punishable by death. You have to learn to live with that when you do the right thing, or you don’t understand anything about Christianity and you don’t know who you are, certainly not what you are capable of. That is how the world changes. (2:13:12 ff)
Western democracies, from their very beginnings hollow shells masking the rule of plutocratic elitists, are now teetering on the brink of declared tyranny. That‘s not exaclty news. Modernity has been at this point a few times before. It‘s the result of the civilized way of life, with its hierarchies and its job specialization, its hyper-abstract thinking and emphathophobic rule-centered acting. What‘s to blame for such developments are neither capitalism nor stupid politicians nor uneducated plebeians nor greedy elites in the first place. In my book Mach was!? [see blog article „Dritte Auflage“] I worte that capitlaism „is actually only the latest offspring of a ten-thousand-year-old dynasty of stupid, ugly, hunchbacked, short-sighted types of society.“ If you are not familiar with my line of argument here, read any of Derrick Jensen‘s works, preferrably Endgame, or Eisenstein‘s repeatedly-mentioned The Ascent of Humanity, or check out some of my previous writings on civilization, By understanding the mechanics of civilization – it is a machine – , or, at least, by comparing historical precedence one can discover tendencies in the succession of moments that make up our present age. And the impression of many, today, is that there emerges a likeness to one of the more recent cataclysms in history. But on trying to communicate that concern we usually run into a number of obstacles.
First of all, the comparison to the 1930s and 40s has been applied so often already that many don‘t take it for serious any longer. Whenever you observed a heated discussion, how long did it take, usually, for Nazi atrocities to getting thrown in? How many ‚new Hitlers‘ have we seen on Time magazine‘s cover, from Milosevic to Saddam Hussein? Cry wolf every time there is a puppy around and see the real beast marching in in broad daylight without anybody noticing it.
Secondly, there is a lack of experience among most people alive in today‘s West: they have never been to war, never lived in an in-your-face tyranny. The 3rd Reich and its war ended 76 years ago. East Germans, on the other hand, more often recognize the signs of rising authoritarianism and totalitarianism because the fall of the Wall happened only 31 years ago. Lack of experience leaves people unsuspecting of the workings of power and of the abuse of technology in the hands of a clique of psychopaths. They take those phony phrases about freedom and democracy at face value, never believing that „it“ can happen again – anytime, anywhere.
Thirdly, the anti-fascist indoctrination was especially successful in Germany and Austria with making people look out for national-socialist type fascism, swastikas, and anti-semitism. Every serious warning of a revival of totalitarianism receives the reply, „It‘s ridiculous, You cannot compare nowadays to back then! These are not the 30s!“
Of course they are not. And of course we must compare – compare even apples and oranges, to find out that in some ways they differ, in others they compare. What looks like an orange at first glance might also well be another kind of apple. How would we know without comparison? So may we compare present-day democracy to fascism? Same story as with oranges and apples: we need to know how democratic our societes truely are respectively to what degree we are just falling for fraudulent labeling. What we are looking for when watching out for tendencies toward a new tyranny are not toothbrush moustaches, SS runes, or Swastika-Armlets, though. Comparisons to back then must look beyond literalisms, and for clarity‘s sake, I‘d rather avoid the term fascism. For fascism came in fashions as diverse as in Italy, Spain, Germany, or the US. But there are similarities in the various ways autocratic, tyrannical, or totalitarian régimes rose to power, and we better be alert to how that usually happens.
My own suspicion grew when curfews („Lockdowns“), muzzle orders („Everyday masks“) and assembly prohibitions („social distancing“) were imposed. As a trained nurse I am familiar with their uselessness and their adverse effects. The non-appearance of such ordinary medical knowledge in the mainstream media along with the concealment of alternative paths to healing, and the defamation of critics as „tin foil hats“, „right-wingers“, „covidiots“ etc. made it unmistakably clear within weeks that the so-called pandemic was not a matter of health. The wrongness of the „measures“ led me to another main reason I deeply distrust the official Corona narrative: It is their structurally, physically and psychologically violent nature. Where there is violence there are justifying lies to cover them up, and where there are lies there is violence to impose false truths. Once you understand the interdependence between lies and violence, on encountering one of them you don’t have to dig for long to expose the other part of the couple. In this case, both were obvious to me at an early stage.
As I am writing these lines, Vera Sharav, medical activist and holocaust survivor, testified before the German Corona Inquiry Committee, comparing the Corona régime to the times of the 3rd Reich. The list of similarities is horrifying:
people had / have to wear marks by which they can be discerned (armlet / facemask and health pass)
according to these marks people were / are segregated and barred from ordinary life
there were / are special laws governing the lives of the „diseased“
travel forbidden for „dangerous“ persons; no escape
medical dictatorship under the pretense of „race hygiene“ / „virus containment“
moral norms obliterated
the medical, sciences, industrial, political, and military institutions were / are closely interwoven
destruction of social conscience in the name of public health
violations against individuals and classes institutionalized
medical profession incl. all its institutions was / is getting totally perverted
eugenics-driven policies displace(d) physicians‘ focus on the good of the individual
coercive public-health policies violate(d) individual civil and human rights
criminal methods used to enforce policies
use of fear of infectious epidemics to demonize „spreaders of disease“ as menace to public health
fear and propaganda, to impose a genocidal régime
government dictate and medical interventions undermine(d) dignity and freedom
„treatment“ and extermination according to protocols, meticulously, methodically
experiments with poisonous and lethal pharmaceuticals on unsuspecting or non-agreeing persons
all-out surveillance for the sake of „health“
crimes hidden behind special jargon
These are just a few parallels (those mentioned by Sharav); others like the scrapping of the constitution, the rule by government decree, the dissolution of the division of power, the lack of opposition, the fracturing of society and loss of social coherence, mass hysteria, deplatforming, the militarization of society, unwarranted police brutality, the lockstepping of institutions, censorship of free press – and so on and so on and so on – could be added.
The Germans are back!
Another great comparison has been delivered in satirical form by American wirter CJ Hopkins. In a widespread and really noteworthy article he wrote in November 2020. He is writing about his adopted country, but make no mistake: What he observes is a – nationally coloured, and in this case historically spicy – concerted attack on human rights, civil liberties and, last not least, human dignity on a global scale.
Break out the Wagner, folks… the Germans are back! No, not the warm, fuzzy, pussified, peace-loving, post-war Germans … the Germans! You know the ones I mean. The “I didn’t know where the trains were going” Germans. The “I was just following orders” Germans. The otherGermans. […]
Given their not-too-distant history, it is rather depressing, and more than a little frightening, to watch as Germany is once again transformed into a totalitarian state, where the police are hunting down the mask-less on the streets, raiding restaurants, bars, and people’s homes, where goose-stepping little Good German citizens are peering into the windows of Yoga studios to see if they are violating “social distancing rules,” where I can’t take a walk or shop for groceries without being surrounded by hostile, glaring, sometimes verbally-abusive Germans, who are infuriated that I’m not wearing a mask, and otherwise mindlessly following orders, and who robotically remind me, “Es ist Pflicht! Es ist Pflicht!”
Unfortunately, once this kind of thing gets started, and reaches the stage we are currently experiencing, more often than not, it does not stop, not until cities lie in ruins or fields are littered with human skulls. It might take us ten or twelve years to get there, but, make no mistake, that’s where we’re headed, where totalitarianism is always headed … if you don’t believe me, just ask the Germans.
With all those remarkable parallels in mind – and what of plain sight? – why is all this happening? In whose interest is the turmoil? What is all this suffering supposed to achieve? Right now we can only speculate. If you have watched Sharavs testimony beyond minute 20, you have heard her implying that the similarities to the 1930s and 40s are not exactly coincidental. Her research led her to the understanding that the Corona régime stands in a continuum with earlier attempts, by the same group of people, to establish global power, reduce the human population, follow eugenicist programs and finish the job Hitler failed to achieve: the creation of a superhuman race. I don‘t find this unlikely; when it looks like a fish, moves like a fish, and smells like a fish, what could it possibly be? I‘d lie if I pretended to not consider what seems apparent, but frankly, I don‘t know. Sometimes the answer is obvious, sometimes it isn‘t. These are questions to be solved at a later point in time, as the focus of Another Nuremberg.
I‘ll stick with the facts here, and I concur with a former German judge who said that, on witnessing a crime, when he calls the police he expects them to hurry to the scene without much ado. They should not make their appearance depend on whether the witness can provide the reasons or motivations of the perpetrators. In a health emergency, an ambulance will show up without asking you to give a detailed diagnosis of the underlying physiological issue; you just tell them the symptoms. And when your house is burning the fire fighters will come quickly without you giving notarized proof of the existence of the fire or a forensic analysis of the cause of its ignition.
The criminals are at the helm. Our societies are terminally sick. Our common house is on fire. Figuring this out doesn‘t require a rocket scientist. And I expect those who still have the courage and strength for decisive response to get into their boots and join the fight against whatever it is that has befallen us. I am not going to wait until vast numbers of people disappearing in death camps make it permissible to compare a Fourth Reich to the Third. It is too late for comparisons after the globalist „elites“ have unleashed nuclear war on the Near East, China, or Russia. A warning is a warning because it comes before the fact, not after it. On the slight chance that I might be wrong I ask all of you who have a funny gut feeling about these times, Take it seriously!
In my blogAnother Nuremberg I noted that I‘m through with people – well, to the degree that a social being can actually divorce itself from its people. It goes so far and no more. That‘s sad enough, and silly enough, too, but that‘s my sentiment in these times. As times are changing, so is the sentiment.
Same goes for science. I‘m through with it, to the degree that a living intelligent curious being can actually divorce itself from its own perception. Because when I say, ‘I’m through with science’, I don‘t mean to say that I‘ll no longer curiously follow the behaviour of the wild beings around me, or that the night sky holds no longer any fascination to me, or that peculiar views picked up from other people and the media no longer rouse my interest. When I say that I‘m through with science I mean, I’ve had enough of the institution of science – academia – and its pointless finds that my grandma knew without spending millions of bucks on reports, or which have no connection to my life whatsoever. I’m through, even more, with scientism – the folk religion of “science says”, “the experts told”, “it’s written in a book”, and “I’ve got a PhD, what have you got?”
I’m through with people because they are civilized to the point of utter craziness, and I’m through with science as the arrogant expression of that craziness, the point where people use the factoids picked up from some kind of medium for the purpose of forcing others into submission, i.e. the point they are no longer curious and open.
David Cayley, in his new book, Ivan Illich – an Intellectual Journey (Penn State University Pr., 2021), describes some of the adverse effects of the dominant contemporary view of science as follows:
“Political discussion,” Illich says, „is stunned by a delusion about science.” Science has become „a spectral production agency” whose output is certified knowledge. One accepts it because of the overwhelming authority this certification confers and because not to accept it is to risk the status of heretic. In courts of law, to take one of Illich’s examples, evidence that our legal tradition would formerly have excluded or bracketed as „hearsay” becomes decisive when delivered by a scientific expert. Decisions that belong in the realm of common sense and practical judgment are instead settled by expert opinion: Is the nuclear power plant „safe”? Do studies on parent—child „attachment” authorize early day care? Which diet will produce the biggest payoff in life expectancy? and so on. This „stuns” political discussion in two ways, according to Illich. The first is that science as a process of inquiry is mystified. Gone are the adventures and vicissitudes of trying to stabilize a „fact” along with the very provisional character of this stabilization once achieved. In their place is a monolith: the oracular „Science says . . . ” or „Studies show . . . ” There’s nothing to discuss. „Scientific” findings that amount to little more than gossip when de-contextualized and stepped down into everyday talk pass from hand to hand, still trailing the aura of the laboratory. The second result, Illich says, is that „people . . . cease to trust their own judgment.” A choice for conviviality requires „a political community [which] choose[s] the dimensions of the roof under which its members will live,” but such a community can only be composed of citizens who believe they have the right, the capacity, and the power to make such a choice.
Science is not knowledge as such. Science is the process of getting to understand how the world works, Science is the fruit of curiosity, and curiosity is the fruit of openness. So long as the gathered knowledge makes sense within the framework of one culture‘s understanding, science is weaving the tapestry of that culture‘s cosmology and worldview. This is the way our culture creates its myths. The word ‚myths‘ does not mean ‚fiction‘ or ‚fairy tales‘, but is another word for the stories that help us make sense of the universe and our place within it. Different peoples have different stories; none of them is more true than another, but each of them makes perfect sense to their respective people within their cocoon of habitat, culture, thought patterns, language, and perception.
In a truly free and participatory group of people every individual helps creating the people‘s myths, and most interestingly the resulting stories seem to last longer the less physical technology people apply in their daily lives – often many hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. At the same time, ‚scientific revolutions‘ succeed each other within decades, rendering previous scientific ‚knowledge‘ outdated or even wrong. It is not so hard to see that our current set of scientific views is really only con-temporary as well. The idea that ‚sicknesses‘ get ‚caused‘ by ‚germs‘ and that ‚healing‘ comes about through killing those germs, for instance, will be among the next certainties going down the drain of time. Ivan Illich (Limits to Medicine; see my blog post, “Medical Nemesis: compulsory survival in a planned and engineered Hell”) has traced some of the historical stages that led to our current understanding of ‘health’, warning of the consequences of continued pursuit of that path. Charles Eisenstein, in his book The Ascent of Humanity (see my blog post “What’s your story?“)described a number of fields waiting for the right moment to make the shift to a new kind of science.
What interests me most about the matter is not so much, What will the future science be based upon?, What kind of knowledge will it reveal?, or, Which new technologies will result from a new science? These are rather idle questions, I think, nice for a discussion with friends on a long night of mental yarn-weaving. The more pressing question, to me, is about how to live a simple life today in a society of expert-groupies, a life freed from tech gurus, unnecessary complications and twisted crypticized language; a life lived within my own power to perceive, discern, process, define, and enact the knowledge I need, so that the world makes sense to me, and so that my existence has meaning.
The place of choice to start this challenge, obviously, is courage – the audacity to inquire for oneself, the guts to look for oneself, the bravery to take conclusions for oneself.
“Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! “Have courage to use your own reason!” – that is the motto of enlightenment. “
– An Answer to the Question: “What is Enlightenment?”, by Immanuel Kant, Konigsberg, 1784. Translation: Lewis White Beck
The language may sound a bit outdated – obviously identity-politically incorrect – but the message is clear nevertheless. Who, then, are those people that put you down for presenting your own findings, that ask for your credentials when you come to your own conclusions, and that try to prevent you from living according to your own insights? Logically, and experientially, they are the submissive servants of the established, the disciples of the religion of scientism, the unenlightened adorers of the fat-assed expert-guru. Let‘s be clear here: This is not about folks who, after due and diligent inquiry, arrive at same or similar conclusions as somebody recognized as an expert, and I am not disparaging those who went especially deep into some matter by using official academic means of studying it. I am emphasizing self-empowerment, the courage to rise from tutelage when you want to or need to – and the fact that you are basically able to achieve this. It is absolutely possible for an ordinary person to reconnect to our innate capabilities for orientation in the natural world, and in collaboration with one‘s community to come up with myths or stories that provide meaning. It is totally within our abilities, as well, to look through the workings of the human world, to tear the shrouds of professional jargon, and to take apart and rearrange the cogs and wheels that make our societies and its subsets function.
Did the Fuggers go to business school? Did Schiller take creative writing courses? Were the Wright brothers professors of aeronautical engineering? Was Goethe a professor of everything? Was George Washington a political scientist? Did Jesus graduate in theology? Buddha in religion? Howard Carter in archaeology?
Since last year a common saying holds that, since Corona, everyone has become an expert on law and medicine these days. Some of the speakers mean to belittle with it the intellectual capacity of non-professionals for understanding what‘s going on; other speakers mean that saying literally: We learned to understand some stuff quite deeply because we had to. And this is how an enlightened, democratic, wise, anarchic, or acephalic society can only work: by sinking our teeth into the flesh of the matter and by applying common sense.
As a citizen in a democracy, for example, one supposedly is the sovereign of one‘s nation and therefore carries responsibility for what is going on. How can you do that if you fundamentally cannot understand how the state works, what its institutions‘ functions are, what your sovereignty allows or obliges you to do, or if you don‘t at least try to understand these and many other state-related issues? You wouldn‘t be able to vote the right guys into the job as you had no clue whether they were competent enough.
Being ignorant of the law does not protect you from punishment. Therefore, one also cannot avoid understanding the constitution, laws, ordinances and court decisions. If this were fundamentally impossible for the average citizen, we would live in an arbitrary state that throws jargon at us instead of giving reasons for its actions, and we could be held accountable of deeds we had no clue of whether they are legal or not.
All this leads to the rejection of the cult of the expert. Anyone who does not use his or her intellect is neither a responsible person nor a responsible citizen and thus not a sovereign. S/he lets others dictate what to see and how to see it – in the best case. In the worst case, s/he does not care at all about things of concern, but leaves them entirely to the experts. Stupid people make the best followers. Fine by me. Then the problem arises, though, that expertism and scientism come along with universalism, the claim to universal validity of one‘s viewpoint, and universalism comes along with the demand for everybody marching in lockstep. Punishment against dissenters, torture of heretics, and war against the Other are lurking right around the corner. As it seems, we‘re already past that corner.
I haven’t been shopping since March 15, 2020, the first day of curfew in India. Lockdown is the neologism for this – for once an apt expression, because it is a technical term originally used by prison administrations. I haven’t been to the doctor for a year, until last week not even to the dentist, although there was every reason to do so. I don’t go to the movies anymore, I don’t enter an office of the administration anymore, I don’t enter a cashier’s office of a bank anymore. I no longer travel, neither short nor long, neither by cab nor by train or even by airplane, the latter of which has become completely impossible. A book manuscript lies unprinted on my hard drive, gathering digital dust because the mere thought of crowded shops and city streets already feels suffocating. Invited by friends I went to lunch at a tiny cookshop that didn’t require specific clothing; I couldn’t enjoy it, though. I did resume work at the library, mainly at the insistence of the manager, who assured me I didn’t have to follow any rules, even if everyone else did. In the office, to myself, I have time to catch my breath again. But the way there, a few kilometers by bicycle is an ordeal. Not that anyone would talk to me about the missing mask, no. I wouldn’t like that. I wouldn’t like that at all; I can’t stand the sight of people anymore and avoid being seen on my part. Me and people, we are a divorced couple.
There is a long history of early traumatization; life since hasn’t been too kind either. Of course, I could try to see the positive sides of life. Why don’t I try to see it more positively? Why don’t I start anew somewhere else? Why don’t I… ? – I guess because by now I lack the necessary faith that the grass is greener elsewhere. As I said, there is a long history, but it does not matter for what I have to say: That all of us individual cases with our human problems, our likes and dislikes, our opinions, insights and realizations, we don’t count any longer. Beyond our function as consumers, employees, taxpayers, cannon fodder, we have long since ceased to play any role in the way matters get handled. We are merely the objects of observation and control, generic members of statistically ascertainable norm groups. Gendered, risk-evaluated, labeled, sorted, directed, manipulated, exploited, eventually dumped.
The raised index finger for all those without a mask. We comply with the Corona rules.
[Billboard by the City of Berlin, paid from taxpayer money]
Corona just caps it all off. Hardly any intellectual fails to mention that the Corona State finally flushes to the surface what had been pushed underwater for so long: all kinds of toxic garbage, looted goods, gasping victims of terror, gnawed-up floaters, fears and traumas, screwed-up biographies, stolen dreams, lost raison d’être, abdicated freedom. Add to all that the codified injustice, the structural violence, and a mountain of epistemic baggage that keep our polities stuck in unreformable rigidity. In the face of nightmare societies competing for the worst way , one can hardly tell the difference whether I am writing about Germany, India, or say, Mexico.
A lot of words that, in short, are supposed to explain why, these days, my trust in the human capacity to bond, in the manifest social structure and – yes, also – in the specific individuals that surround me, has slipped away. I have lost the desire to see anyone anymore, lost the joy of hearing what is going on with this or that person. In the same way, when I think of the big names of our time – people from music, philosophy, politics, science, etc. – I’d rather they kept their mouths shut, because what comes out of there usually offends the mind. If the verbal garbage remained just words – ok. But unfortunately the call for ostracizing the dissenters and the demands for harder punishment of “deniers”, along with all the other fantasies of social barbarism get implemented without big scruples only too soon after… and the whole pack of established media provide a platform for the hysteria. The state’s regulations regime has overtaken many a satirical exaggeration within a few weeks by issuing ever more repressive orders. And then there are the non-state ‘measures’. A friend from Berlin writes:
“The day before yesterday I was actually physically attacked for the first time in my adult life in the park by an aggressive but at the same time somehow calculating man. Afterwards I did some asking around and in fact it happened to my roommate in a very similar way. The girlfriend of another acquaintance was slapped in the subway; another one was yelled at in the supermarket because of the distance rules. People here are starting to go crazy.”
There is an archaic conception of man at work, incompatible with my worldview: it’s not autonomous individuals endowed with dignity, embedded in loving communities, who shape their lives in a self-responsible manner, but fear-driven government subjects incapable of making rational decisions, who must be kept on a leash for their own good and who — as self-appointed guardians of the status quo – habitually obey pre-emptively. Real dangers have given way to obscure statistical risk potentials, your neighbor is always a danger to your life, denunciation is a civic duty, children’s birthday parties get broken up as criminal gatherings. How quickly the turnaround has happened is frightening in itself already, because as far as typical features of Nazi Germany were concerned, the rule went, NEVER AGAIN! But already in early May, six weeks into the curfew, my mother wrote from rural Black Forest:
“My physiotherapist, who is friends with a policeman, told me that in [the county seat] 1000 people call every day to report friends, relatives, neighbors and acquaintances to the police – for Corona misconduct!”
In the eyes of a not insignificant part of the population, freedom and human dignity are no longer inalienable rights, but privileges that have to be earned by conformity – and thus are reduced to absurdity. Civil and human rights dwell in best company with other terms that have been usurped into Newspeak: Attitudinal journalism operates as “reporting”, Nazis masquerade as “Antifa”, “solidarity” is understood as forced conformity, “development aid” drives whole continents into poverty, “humanitarian intervention” stands for genocide, “vaccination” has become another word for genetic manipulation, forcing women about to give birth to wearing masks is part of “health care”, the authoritarian regime pretends to be a “democracy”, mob rule prides itself on “civil courage”, the middle finger replaces the “index finger”… I could go on like this for hours and literally fill a whole dictionary – the neo-liberal dictionary of falsehoods, which I already mentioned in earlier articles.
Those who feel reminded of George Orwell have long since no need to fear overstretching the comparison. Dystopia can hardly be manifested more clearly and obviously. In the novel “1984” Orwell writes:
“[‘blackwhite’] means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.”
Introduced later, the technical term for “doublethink” is “cognitive dissonance.”
Here the question arises how after Corona — assuming the nightmare has a happy ending — a new togetherness can come about at all, given that such a massive slide into barbarism was supported by virtually all governmental, social, scientific and economic institutions, but especially by so many fellow human beings. How can one restore that trust to one’s arbitrary neighbor that is needed to build a relationship, how can one again look into the eyes of the perpetrators, of whom one knows that in their world one exists merely as an object?
I have my doubts that a simple “No hard feelings” approach is enough, because I cannot dismiss Schopenhauer’s remark that “to forgive and forget is to throw precious experience out of the window”. Prior to forgiveness, there must be recognition of one’s own transgressions and subsequent repentance. It involves the willingness to take responsibility for one’s own actions, to accept punishment, to repent, to make amends or at least to mitigate the damage. Then, and only then, may one forgive, but rather not forget. We must not allow ourselves to wrap the cloak of silence around the people’s role in the oppressing, torturing and murdering of millions, as we did after the disaster of the Third Reich, because at that time the historical traumas of hundreds of millions of people in dozens of nations remained buried deep in the individual and collective psyche. Uncured they continued to smolder within the closets of apparently purified hearts and minds, affected the world view of three or four subsequent generations, and found expression during the so-called pandemic in a mass hysteria unlike any other in history. The failed Denazification of post-WW2 – failed because it got stuck with mere criminalization of identified perpetrators — must be made up for in our present.
Denazification today means de-coronification. Without another trial based on the Nuremberg model – because of the symbolism (tribunal and codex) it should indeed take place in Nuremberg – a credible and trustworthy restoration of social cohesion is simply impossible. The enormity of what has happened demands a complete reappraisal, while those responsible for the worst mass suffering in human history must be held accountable. The thirst for revenge, the cry for crucifixion of exposed representatives of the Corona regime, however, must under no circumstances guide the trial. As now impressively demonstrated, with the death of the Nazi grandees, self-afflicted or on the gallows, the phantom of fascism was by no means banished, but could return in full glory as self-declared anti-fascism, as totalitarianism in democratic guise. The goal of a tribunal should be to educate the population about its own role in the emergence of tyranny. Of course, it is also urgent to ensure that the main characters in the Corona scam are permanently prevented from further agitation. Immediately thereafter, however, the real clean-up work begins: our language, our institutions, our laws and regulations, our economy and currency, our international as well as our personal relationships, our relationship to technology and food, and our use of art, medicine, science – basically, simply all elements of existence – must be examined. A complete revolution of our way of life becomes due, the core of which must be the confrontation of our traumas: a personal Nuremberg for each and every one of us.
With the massive censorship wave sweeping through social media I decided to move to safer places.
Find my video account with its brand new home-made Swabian comedy show on bitchute every fortnight, and enjoy, from now on, the latest English-language essays of my blog here, on this WordPress page. I also consider moving from fb to Diaspora.
I started blogging in July 2004, on 20six, moved to Livejournal in 2008 (‘Wüstenzeitung’), and again in 2010 to Blogspot (‘Mach was!?’). So “Canary’s Dead” is the fourth version. Along with 177 older articles all of your comments have been imported as well.
Let me know how you feel about the new look and which features you would like to see.
Ivan Illich‘s central theme of his 1970‘s writing revolved around the counter-intuitive development of modern societies based on the Western industrial model: The fact that the more effort and energy get invested in making things more efficient, the more they tend to become ineffective. Beyond a certain threshold, applying more of the same has destructive effects even, to which there is no remedy. In his book “Deschooling Society”, for instance,he showed that schooling prohibits learning; in “Energy and Equity” he did the same for the traffic sector: faster transportation results in more time spent on transiting. Further publications of his, such as “H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness”, “Gender”, or“Tools for Conviviality” – give many more examples of that malignant rebound effect which pervades all areas of civilized life; in fact every institution of Modernity, from church to academia, from military to administration, from agriculture to architecture.
With “Medical Nemesis”he produced another landmark publication in 1976 that continues to be reprinted by the title “Limits to Medicine: The Expropriation of Health”. Though Illich felt that, ten years after his book, the situation had taken another step to the worse, the quality of his socio-historical analysis still provides us with valuable insights into the behaviours currently enacted. Let’s jump right in to look at some of his theses. [all quotes from Illich: Medical Nemesis, unless otherwise sated; emphases mine.]
The medical establishment has become a major threat to health. The disabling impact of professional control over medicine has reached the proportions of an epidemic. Iatrogenesis, the name for this new epidemic, comes from iatros, the Greek word for “physician,” and genesis, meaning “origin.”
Illich identified three types of Iatrogenesis – clinical, social, and cultural – which he summed up as follows:
Increasing and irreparable damage accompanies present industrial expansion in all sectors. In medicine this damage appears as iatrogenesis. Iatrogenesis is clinical when pain, sickness, and death result from medical care; it is social when health policies reinforce an industrial organization that generates ill-health; it is cultural and symbolic when medically sponsored behavior and delusions restrict the vital autonomy of people by undermining their competence in growing up, caring for each other, and aging, or when medical intervention cripples personal responses to pain, disability, impairment, anguish, and death.
In other words, when people’s reliance on external sources of healing becomes the rule rather than the exception, healing turns into the institution of medicine – with negative effects on health. The individual’s abilities to, within its social context, heal itself atrophies like an underused muscle. With the expansion of the medical sector, ordinary healthy expressions of life such as birth, immunization, metabolizing, sorrow, grief, rage, confusion, aging and death become defined as requiring medical improvement, prevention, or treatment.
Beyond a critical level of intensity, institutional health care—no matter if it takes the form of cure, prevention, or environmental engineering—is equivalent to systematic health denial.
The mechanistic approach of the modern health trade reduces living humans to biological machines whose ailments fall into distinct pre-defined categories of illness and repair. These are quite different categories from the state of health every living being normally enjoys. People become “cases,” examples of broken hypothetic perfection, and cases enter statistics of generic classes of items: so many born, so many infected, so many dead, figures of potential danger to public health.
By equating statistical man with biologically unique men, an insatiable demand for finite resources is created. The individual is subordinated to the greater “needs” of the whole, preventive procedures become compulsory.
With dwindling autonomy, dependence on professionals rises even further. Soon enough the liberty to seek professional help becomes the right to treatment, which in turn becomes a duty to surrender to therapy, including legal sanctions for failure or refusal to undergo prevention, improvement and repair.
Welcome to the year 2020 in which desisting from wearing face masks or keeping distance to your own family members not only become criminalized but socially battled.
Unsick people have come to depend on professional care for the sake of their future health. The result is a morbid society that demands universal medicalization and a medical establishment that certifies universal morbidity.
And that is considered “the new normal.” Ivan Illich foresaw it back then, though he was by far not the first to notice where the professionalization of medicine was heading. More often in history than not the healer was a figure on the margins of society. Despite the progressive expropriation of every woman’s medical skills our grandparents still held remnants of the ability to heal themselves and each other. During the 70’s and 80’s most of the world’s more traditional cultures then underwent the destruction of their knowledge. It came upon them by way of “developmental aid”.
Suffering, healing, and dying, which are essentially intransitive activities that culture taught each man, are now claimed by technocracy as new areas of policy-making and are treated as malfunctions from which populations ought to be institutionally relieved. The goals of metropolitan medical civilization are thus in opposition to every single cultural health program they encounter in the process of progressive colonization.
Cognitive injustice is what the failure to acknowledge other ways of knowing – and healing – is called. Another word for the destruction of those knowledge systems is epistemicide – eventually genocide by imperialistic scientism. Cognitive injustice denies livelihood and lives to whole classes or peoples. One cannot overstate the difference between traditional-cultural and industrial views on health and healing:
Cultures are systems of meanings, cosmopolitan civilization a system of techniques. Culture makes pain tolerable by integrating it into a meaningful setting; cosmopolitan civilization detaches pain from any subjective or intersubjective context in order to annihilate it. Culture makes pain tolerable by interpreting its necessity; only pain perceived as curable is intolerable.
Bantam 1976 ed.
Insufferable pain that cannot be relieved must inevitably lead to the end of any society, Illich proclaimed. Does that apply as well to an epidemic which can never be stopped? Can democracy survive the wholesale suspension of the division of power, of civil liberties and of human rights? Are the hostilities between the followers of different health paradigms harbingers of civil wars to come?
Among the many ways our civilization could have undergone collapse the one we are following right now surprises me. That an unpolitical caste like the medical doctors would play such a central role could not have been forseen… or could it?
The chief function of the physician becomes that of an umpire. He is the agent or representative of the social body, with the duty to make sure that everyone plays the game according to the rules. The rules, of course, forbid leaving the game and dying in any fashion that has not been specified by the umpire.
Dying of (or with, it seems in most cases) CoVid-19, especially doing so at home, does not constitute a permissible exit. Dying, Illich remarks, might be a consumer’s last act of resistance. But what is this CoVid-19, really, when its symptoms can be almost anything? What are those invisible entities called viruses? What is an infection and how do you know you are sick? The answers to these questions are not as obvious as streamlined media outlets would have us believe:
All disease is a socially created reality. Its meaning and the response it has evoked have a history. The study of this history will make us understand the degree to which we are prisoners of the medical ideology in which we were brought up.
In other cultures, what is sick and what is healthy can be quite different from what Western-industrial medicine assumes to be so. One must also admit that numerous elements of what constitutes the totality of the human experience – humour, relationship, belief, meaning, intuition, spirit… the list goes on and on and on – has no place in the scientific worldview at all, which means it gets overlooked deliberately. And even within the materialistic-mechanistic paradigm science can only show us the things it is looking for. Therefore its understanding of health fundamentally changed various times. Illich found, for instance, that,
As the doctor’s interest shifted from the sick to sickness, the hospital became a museum of disease.
It is important to see that nowaday’s medicine’s preoccupation with germs (and their killing) constitutes a gross exception among the healing traditions worldwide, including the tradition of our own culture until only recently. It limits the ability to approach health in a more holistic form, or from different angles, and it effectively dehumanizes us in many ways. Can you imagine a better symbol for the rendering of humans into controllable objects than the mandatory masking of the face? Considering that we are social animals, can you imagine a worse violation of human nature than the avoidance of closeness?
On the one hand, one may argue that this is the necessary price for staying alive and healthy. On the other, Illich points at research which seems to show that modern medicine neither helped to increase public health significantly – it had nothing to do with the extension of lifespans either – nor has it been more effective than other ways of healing. With relish he quotes from Oliver Wendell Holmet’s Medical Essays (Boston, 1883):
“I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind—and all the worse for the fishes,”
and he proposes his vision that,
no services are to be forcibly imposed on an individual against his will: no man, without his consent, shall be seized, imprisoned, hospitalized, treated, or otherwise molested in the name of health.
Illich’s conclusion as published in the last paragraph of Medical Nemesis reads like a prophet’s message from half a century ago, transmitted to an age gone insane over the war on micro-organisms waged by obsessive science, unleashed corporation sand amoral politics, in which ordinary people, the sick and the healthy alike, get consumed as cannon fodder. The enemy, though, is invisible, invincible and indestructible; which is good, for without it we could not be who we are. It could be that we could not be at all.
Man’s consciously lived fragility, individuality, and relatedness make the experience of pain, of sickness, and of death an integral part of his life. The ability to cope with this trio autonomously is fundamental to his health. As he becomes dependent on the management of his intimacy, he renounces his autonomy and his health must decline. The true miracle of modern medicine is diabolical. It consists in making not only individuals but whole populations survive on inhumanly low levels of personal health. Medical nemesis is the negative feedback of a social organization that set out to improve and equalize the opportunity for each man to cope in autonomy and ended by destroying it.
His idea is, of course, neither the abolishment of the institutional, professional medicine, nor the total surrender to curable sickness that some Christian sects practice, but a change of the mindset which lies at its foundation: from dependency on, and obedience to, faceless institutions towards interdependent freedom in the spirit of the Samaritan. According to Illich, professional health care would complement autonomous forms of staying in balanced condition, and the various ways of healing the human body and mind would be available in parallel.
In a 1974 Lancet essay anticipating his upcoming book Illich clarified the choices left to us:
The sickening technical and non-technical consequences of the institutionalisation of medicine coalesce to generate a new kind of suffering—anaesthetised and solitary survival in a world-wide hospital ward. […] Either the natural boundaries of human endeavour are estimated, recognised, and translated into politically determined limits, or the alternative to extinction is compulsory survival in a planned and engineered Hell. [Lancet 1974; i:918–21]
Ivan Illich used to observe that, from the mid-1980’s on, the health sector has deteriorated even further than described in “Medical Nemesis”. He said:
By reducing each person to ‘a life’, bioethics is helpless to prevent total management of the person, now transformed into a system. [Pathogenesis, Immunity and the Quality of Public Health. A lecture given in Hershey, PA, June 13th, 1994]
»Nobody has the right to obey.«
Poster to the exhibition “Hannah Arendt & the 20th century“ March 27th – October 18th 2020.
He meant to say that the processes of institutionalization and professionalization have reached a new stage in which the tool and its user can no longer be separated. People have become integral parts of systems. The next step, though, the machine-man-merger commonly know as transhumanism, already begins to establish itself as the successor. As progressive dehumanization visibly picks up speed, clearly, the time has arrived when resistance to oppression, medical or otherwise, can no longer remain limited to soap-box oratory. The cognitive dissonance that many of the intellectuals fell prey to – visiting a Hannah Arendt exposition in Berlin that has been advertised with her famous words, “Nobody has a right to obedience,” while following orders to wear masks in that Museum’s halls, not questioning the demand that “the Corona measures must never be questioned” (veterinarian Lothar Wieler, head of the German centre for disease control, the Robert Koch Institut) is a clear sign of historical lessons not learnt. Totalitarian rule will not return with a mustache and Caesar’s salute, but return it must to a society that succumbs to fear. Those who are aware of the folly need to stand up to end the umpires’ game right now. The alternative to the war on germs – healthy food, fresh air, clean water, loving community, positive attitude, autonomous posture, virtuous meaningful worldview – can be had for no price at all.
Instead, while – and because – a majority of people in industrialized areas surrender to the Corona regime, those critical of the anti-pandemic measures consciously live through that planned hell of a globalized hospital ward Illich was talking about. An increasing number seek refuge in voluntary death as permanent exposure to ordinary-folks-turned-soap-police makes life miserable to the point where the naked-faced cannot visit doctors, shops, temples, therapy, friends, family, work places, and administrative bodies any longer and life becomes a never-ending meaningless waiting game for relief. Most critics simply ask that their alternative, more autonomous ways of healing be respected – which is the one thing that the medical juggernaut can never allow.
The early Christians made … community by sharing the simple communion meal through which they remembered their Lord, and by a mouth-to-mouth kiss through which they shared their spirits in a conspiratio or breathing together,
states Canadian radio broadcaster David Cayley in a book on Austro-American social philosopher Ivan Illich’s views. [David Cayley, The Rivers North of the Future. The Testament of Ivan Illich. House of Anansi Pr., 2005]
So this is what it means to conspire. Rather than theorizing on others doing it, we are called to do it ourselves. Which brings me to a message published in our local gazette, the News & Notes 839. It says,
The Covid Task force in its weekly communication with the community in the News & Notes, on Auronet and through many Bulletins has done a heroic job! The Pandemic in India is certainly not yet under control and we are asked to take caution; It is required by law to keep social distance, wear masks while going out and in public places and do not hold or go to large gatherings. As Auroville and Aurovilians, we have to follow the law.
Lately there are more voices of dissent, people who absolutely refuse to wear a mask in Auroville’s public places: going to the Financial Service, PDTC or Pour Tous, (despite clear signs that say: ‘NO MASK NO ENTRY ‘. Unpleasant, jarring, impatient and hot arguments were heard in PDTC at the entrance attacking the amazing people, who keep this service going since March, in a spirit of selfless service, wearing their own hot masks all morning!! and providing us with all our food needs, meanwhile keeping a beautiful atmosphere. Over the carrot-and onion displays someone went ballistic: shrieking to another customer who dared to inquire why she wasn’t wearing a mask. This was shocking painful and hurtful to everyone present. If some Aurovilians feel so strongly not keeping these simple rules, they of course have the freedom to stop shopping or use Auroville services and do their errands and business elsewhere. It would great if these simple rules could be accepted and followed by everyone -whatever people’s private opinions are- without the necessity to enforce them.
Stay Healthy! ~ L.
I have a lot of questions about this piece of writing. What exactly is heroic about sitting in a self-appointed group passing down rules from the Central Government to The City The Earth Needs? Why are those who work for a wage called selfless, and inhowfar does their self-torturing behaviour make a good example for everyone? It is certainly not ok to accuse or even shout at them, but where is all the rage coming from, did you ever wonder? From the threat of enforcement of ‘voluntary’ obedience, perhaps? Where can they go when all public doors are marked with Get-lost signs? Can they visit alternative offices when there aren’t any? Are they supposed to starve to death in their homes? What has become of the Aurovilian pride in all the non-allopathic methods and ways of healing we once practiced? Once there were Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic, Homeopathic, Yogic, Shamanic and all kinds of ways, now there is only one, the control-obsessed Western-orthodox approach, or rather a perverted politicised version of it that defies all scientific and common-sense understanding.
Despite the many questionable points in the above opinion piece, I’ll focus on the topic of obedience alone. Mirra Alfassa, the founder and “Mother” of Auroville, also called the place The City At The Service Of Truth, and she made clear in many of her statements that laws, rules, traditions, morals, or religions alongside money, police, courts, politics, governments etc. should not rule its ways. A life divine, but no religions, as she famously said.
As can be seen from the following quotes, to no surprise, the New Testament as a spiritual document anticipates some of the things that the Mother, along with many other wisdom teachers, said about proper relation of the truth-seeker to rules.
Let me quote from Cayley’s book [in italics]; not in order to establish yet another authority or to argue theological points, but to give a perspective on what the insistence on obedience might mean.
What the Samaritan does is to step fearlessly outside what his culture has sanctified in order to create a new relationship and, potentially, a new community. He does not seek God within a sacred circle but finds him lying by the road in a ditch. His possibilities cannot be predicted or circumscribed. He lives, in the apostle Paul’s words, “not under the law, but under grace.” [Cayley]
“We are released from the Law, having died to what was binding us, and so we are in a new service, that of the spirit, and not in the old service of a written code.” [Paul, Letter to the Romans, 7:6]
In other words, the spirit defines our relationship, not our man-made arbitrary rules. One of Illich’s central tenets was that even the duty to help and the obligation to solidarity eliminate empathy and spirit from the good work. Before everything else, there ought to be compassion, not judgment. The person that comes to your doorstep is a person in need. Right action does not draw its direction from the norm or from fear of breaking rules.
“If I had not come and spoken to them they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.” [Jesus, Gospel of John, 15:22-23]
While modern political and social theory has it that societies are shaped and held together by their rules, the bond of community is understanding. It doesn’t mean that laws, traditions or rituals are absent in community, but that they do not have precedence over compassion. Through the message passed on by numerous voices such as the Buddha, Jesus, or the Mother, we have been made aware of our freedom to act compassionately, and that the strict application – not the breach – of rules is a sin:
Sin, in this new context, no longer means just a violation of the law, but something more — a coldness or indifference to what has been revealed and made possible. [Cayley]
Don’t take ‘sin’ for the religious crime codified by the Roman Church, but for the betrayal of the relationship established by the loving trust of the Samaritan into the commonly despised stranger.
“Sin,” Illich says, “is refusing to honour that relationship which came into existence between the Samaritan and the Jew, which comes into existence through the exercise of freedom, and which constitutes an ‘ought’ because I feel called by you, called to you, called to this tie between human beings, or between beings and God […] It is not in any sense offensive of a law. It is always an offence against a person. It’s an infidelity.”
To value the law over the person, that is sin. Freedom, though, is not about permanent rebellion against rules in general, but about unrestrained acting in the spirit of the good: compassion, truthfulness, community.
Sin, on this account, is not simply an evil, or a moral fault. It is a failing against the Spirit, possible only for those who have heard and ignored what they have heard, and visible only in the light of that freedom that Paul says is identical with “the forgiveness of sin.” [Cayley]
The interviewer asks what she is supposed to do about the climate crisis, and Roger holds that it’s obvious. As it isn’t to the interviewer he gives a simple analogy. Go to 15:25 and watch for two minutes only, to see what happens when we don’t allow ourselves to question our lifestyles and assumptions.
Roger misinterprets Ms Ahituv’s not getting the analogy as playing games. I believe she actually *is* incapable of following him. She really cannot spell out the obvious, even though a three-year old could have done the mechanical repetition of what has been said in the analogous example. Because that would have meant to overthrow everything she lives by, for, and from. Confronted with preferences, logic does not apply.
And this inability to simply go through an hypothetical exercise has nothing to do with the correctness of the assumptions around anthropogenic CO2 emissions as the main driver of global temperature increase. (I no longer believe in those, either.) We find the same deficiency in everyday life whenever it’s about inquiring root causes and putting into practice what we find out, be it about environmental destruction, the wealth gap, the Corona regime, patriarchy, corruption, or genocide. We know what to do about them: So far as we are concerned, to simply to stop doing them, participating in them, staying quiet about them, endorsing them. What’s complicated about changing our own behaviour (rather than waiting for society to change) are our thoughts on how this would rock our boat and make us uncomfortable at first. We don’t know what to do without our comforts, and we wouldn’t dare to think how life could be arranged in different ways. Our unwillingness to question our preferences, assumptions and the stuff we deem “obviously real” kills not only our culture of reasonable discussion, it kills life on this planet in wholesale.
The reason why I hold that civilized culture and a good measure of its members are completely insane is this pathological inability to shed the distorted, delusional, dysfunctional sense of self which guides our thoughts and actions.