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2022-04-14 09:34:20   •   ID: 2322

From humanity through nationality to bestiality (F.Grillparzer)

Figure 1
The title of the post is from the political conservative Austrian poet Franz Grillparzer - the most productive Austrian dramatic author of the 19th century. Franz Kafka adored him for his novel: "Der Arme Spielmann".

He early recognized the dangers of newly "constructed" Nations in his multi-ethnic motherland.

The consequences of the ethnicisation process, which was initially taken up mainly by intellectuals after the failed revolution of 1848 in Central and Eastern Europe, were the fact that the subjects of the Russian and Austrian emperors were re-defined and differentiated themselves into „Polish“, "Great-" and "Little-Russians", "Ukrainians”, “Ruthenians", „Germans“ and other „ proud, unique and incommensurable Nations" - with bloody consequences.

By the way: This process was otherwise driven everywhere in Europe by the formation of early prehistoric science. The ominous search for one's own "national identity" began and Prehiorians were on its forefront.

For a first short introduction to the consequences of this Nation building processes, I recommend with some reservations T. Snyder's book about the "Bloodlands" in Eastern Europe, between 1930 and 1950, although there are much better books on the subject, with a much wider horizon- (some of them are mentioned below).

Goyas Desasters of War: Figure 1 is a plate (Plate 36) from Goya’s series of 82 prints created between 1810 and 1820 about the Desasters of War. This graphic cycle begins with the famous plate: „The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters“.

The war between a French invading army and peasant Spanish guerrillas raged between 1808-1814. In Plate 36, Goya depicts a pensively gazing French soldier looking at a violated, humiliated and murdered Spanish peasant’s body.

Whoever wants to know something about the multitude of cruelty of martial conflicts, should know this cycle, because essentially nothing has changed - until today.

Osip Emilievich Mandelstam is one of the great Russian Poets of the 20th century. Calling himself a "Democratic Humanist" he died, in addition to his individual Political stance, for 16 lines of critique December 27, 1938, in the Gulag Archipelago.

His Criticism refers to Comrade Stalin and his "cleansing operations" that led to the mass murder of innocent Civilians, especially of the Ukrainian peasants and of all "suspicious subjects, diversants and spies". Conservative estimates put the number of starved to death Ukrainians at 3 million during the 1930ies.

The famine was probably not the result of a deliberate "extermination plan", but the result of paranoid fear, ignorance, incompetence and ideological delusion - but resulted in similar deadly consequences.

After the Great Hunger had stopped after a political turn, around 1934, Stalin started a new deadly project, being convinced of the reality of a fictitious Polish Secret "Military Organization" in the Ukraine, which tried to destabilise the Soviet Imperium.

Now the Soviet secret police (the NKWD) nightly picked up "Polish spies" by the tens of thousands for physical liquidation. People were taken up and transported to the centers of their extermination in black buses - called "Black Ravens" by the local population.

During these years, the "destruction of the kulaks as a political class" initiated by Stalin, was complemented by ethnic cleansing in a country that official declared to be part of a „union of socialist free states" with the right to withdraw at any time.

„Special cleansing Operations“ by the Russian forces are back again in the Ukraine in 2022, a country, recognized even by Russia under international law as a sovereign state.

Writing this post, we are standing on day 38 of a terrible war of Putins Russia against the Ukraine.

It is of interest, that the History of Ukraine as a nation is not defined ethnically but politically. It‘s territory has been shaped by the history and culture of quite different empires (K.Schlögel).

We also have to recognise that Stalin’s influence is still imprinted everywhere in the state structure of Russia; he remains omnipresent. Putin's politics increasingly resembles Stalins paranoid tyranny – it is the pure cult of fear.

Mandelstam’s famous critique about Stalin is part of this Post using English and German Translation. It could also refer to Comrade Putin.

The sleep of reason always leads to tragedies regardless of the underlying ideology. Only one example: I will never forget the American President George W. Bush who, advised by influential members of neoconservative "think tanks", was so obsessed with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, that he knowingly drove his Nation, with the help of simple and immediately transparent lies, into a war in Iraq that turned the entire Middle East into a battlefield.

Figure 2
Figure 3
Splendid Warriors: Whether War is an anthropological constant is highly controversial- see: 1322

Organized violence in Europe has its roots in (still egalitarian?) Funnel Beaker societies (Horn et al. 2021).

At the latest during the Bronze Age the glorification of the warrior begins. Socio-Economic causes for this process have been identified by certain lines of evidence and can be found in every modern Archaeological Textbook.

The Bronze Age testified the global emergence of a warrior society with a culture, chacterized by a variety of new, efficient weapons that remained in use for the millennia to come.

In their excellent short review “Introducing Bronze Age Warfare”, Christian Horn and Kristian Kristiansen argue:

This [glorification of the warriors] is evidenced in the ostentatious display of weapons in burials and hoards, as well as in iconography from rock art to palace frescoes. This development has been described in a variety of ways: as the emergence of warrior aristocracies, linked to the emergence of the ‘Hero’ and his retinue, or simply through a study of weapons and their indications of use

It all comes down to the historical fact that warfare became institutionalised and professionalized during the Bronze Age, and a new class of warriors made its appearance, one displaying differences among Eurasian, Mediterranean, and European warrior classes that were rooted in their different social and political complexities

Figure 2 and Figure 3 show a completely preserved terracotta warrior (hight 19,5 cm) representation from the Archaic Period of Cyprus of my personal collection (7th Century BC; dated by TL; ex Daryl Gruber Kulok Collection; NY), which illustrates this ideology perfectly.

In this Quality and Size, such Figurines are extremely rare. The body is formed on the potter's wheel, it is cylindrical and hollow inside.

The head is tapered on top with semicircular protruding ears, long pointed nose and painted eyes and beard. In his left hand the warrior he holds a circular shield with a button-like hump.

In his right hand, stretched to the side, the warrior probably once held a spear. Figures like this were found in the sanctuary of Agia Irini and other rural shrines in Cyprus. A comparable warrior is housed in the Medelhvsmuseet in Stockholm with the inventory number A.I. 0342.

Nowadays, one discontented powerful man is enough to bring the whole world to ruin. History knows a multitude of such creatures, but the destructive power of weapons has multiplied since the Bronze Age: inevitably and foreseeably, many millions of people will be murdered in the coming generations

Whenever you think - it can't go on like this, the next mass murder comes along and the next one has been just born

Osip Mandelstam in English:

We are living, but can’t feel the land where we stay,

More than ten steps away you can’t hear what we say.

But if people would talk on occasion,

They should mention the Kremlin Caucasian.

His thick fingers are bulky and fat like live-baits,

And his accurate words are as heavy as weights.

Cucaracha’s moustaches are screaming,

And his boot-tops are shining and gleaming.

But around him a crowd of thin-necked henchmen,

And he plays with the services of these half-men.

Some are whistling, some meowing, some sniffing,

He’s alone booming, poking and whiffing.

He is forging his rules and decrees like horseshoes –

Into groins, into foreheads, in eyes, and eyebrows.

Every killing for him is delight,

And Ossetian torso is wide.

(Translated by Dmitri Nikolajewitsch Smirnow )

Osip Mandelstam In German:

Wir Lebenden spüren den Boden nicht mehr,

Wir reden, dass uns auf zehn Schritt keiner hört,

Doch wo wir noch Sprechen vernehmen, –

Betrifft's den Gebirgler im Kreml.

Seine Finger sind dick und, wie Würmer, so fett,

Und Zentnergewichte wiegt's Wort, das er fällt,

Sein Schnauzbart lacht Fühler von Schaben,

Der Stiefelschaft glänzt so erhaben.

Schmalnackige Führerbrut geht bei ihm um,

Mit dienstbaren Halbmenschen spielt er herum,

Die pfeifen, miaun oder jammern.

Er allein schlägt den Takt mit dem Hammer.

Befehle zertrampeln mit Hufeisenschlag:

In den Leib, in die Stirn, in die Augen, – ins Grab.

Wie Himbeeren schmeckt ihm das Töten –

Und breit schwillt die Brust des Osseten. (Translated by Kurt Lhotzky)

Suggested Reading:

B.A.Anderson: Die Erfindung der Nation: Zur Karriere eines folgenreichen Konzepts; 2005

J Böhler et al: In the Shadow of the Great War. Physical Violence in East-Central Europe, 1917–1923; New York 2021

T.Bouverie: Mit Hitler reden: Der Weg vom Appeasement zum Zweiten Weltkrieg, 2021

H Leidinger al: Habsburgs schmutziger Krieg: Ermittlungen der österreichisch - ungarischen Kriegsführung 1914 - 1918; 2020

A. Kappeler: Kleine Geschichte der Ukraine. 5., überarbeitete und aktualisierte Auflage; 2019

R. Gerwarth: Die Besiegten, 2017

E. J. Hobsbawm Nationen und Nationalismus: Mythos und Realität seit 1780, 2007

H.U. Wehler: Nationalismus; 2019

Post Scriptum 1

Unfortunately, the engravings of Goya, a few days after writing this post hit the nerve of the time: remember Butscha, even if the full reconstruction of the events is still pending.

One must be patient and not get confused by "alternative facts" - the workup of Mỹ Lai and Srebrenica needed decennia, but were finally successful….

This is not a political blog but as a "zoon politikon" I feel obliged to comment contemporary political issues from time to time. -see here: 2234 , here: 2047 , here: 1083 , here: 2297 and here: 2047

Post Scriptum 2

Galicia (Polish Galicja, Ukrainian Галичина Halytschyna, Yiddish גאַליציע Galitsye) is a historical landscape in what is now southern Poland and western Ukraine. Its capital during the Austrian Empire was Lemberg (Lviv), located in the Ukraine today.

If you want to know more about the genocidal massacres and about perpetrators and victims, during the German occupation 1941-1944 , I recommend David Evans' documentary: "My Nazi Legacy". It breaked my heart- see: Galicia 1941-1944

The entire movie can be viewed here: Documentation

It was not by chance, that the term genocide was coined in 1943 by the Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, from Lviv, who combined the Greek word "genos" (Kinship community) with the Latin word "cide" (to kill).

After witnessing the mass executions by the Germans in Galicia, in which every member of his family except his brother was killed, Dr Lemkin successfully campaigned to have genocide recognised as a crime under international law.


Post Scriptum 3: „Guilty Men“:

There is a broad consensus that Hitler’s Germany is to blame for the Second World War.

Today, German appeasement policy bears a great deal of blame for the war crimes of Putin's army in Ukraine.

The pathetic and totally unbelievable German "culture of remembrance" has become a cheap excuse to leave other nations to their fate.

This appeaser attitude to “stay in Dialogue with Mr Putin” is totally inappropriate if one wants to stop a autistic Dictator.

When Mr Chamberlain visited Hitler during the Sudeten crisis in 1938, it became clear that the two men used a completely different language and lived in completely different worlds.

Chamberlain believed in diplomatic Dialogue, while Hitler had long left a normal civilised Common Ground, if he ever understood the basis of humanity.

While Chamberlain, during the last years before Munich, at least made sure that the Royal Air Force and the Radar posts along the English coast were in good condition, today’s German politicians, unable to imagine that a political criminal would not play by the common rules, missed any preparation for an armed conflict- that makes them "guilty men"(and women)

Those who do not want to remember ...are forced to relive history.