Friday, March 23, 2007

Hannah Arendt on Eichman in Jerusalem.

I am unable to post this essay in my msn group. I am often obstructed from communicating by obstacles of one sort or another. My Norton System has been rendered inoperable. I do not know whether I can restart my computer. I will continue to struggle to write and post these essays. I have made the same corrections of "errors" many times in this essay. Please see the essays dealing with corruption and criminality in New Jersey's legal system and government in the general section of my msn group, Critique.

My book is offered with Paul Ricoeur's Freedom and Human Nature (1966) on E-bay, where I do not have an account and have never sold or purchased any item. Http://

Hannah Arendt, Eichman in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Penguin: 1977). (I am told that "Eichman" can be written with a single or double "n.")

I first learned of Hannah Arendt in a college philosophy class, when the subject of human cruelty emerged in discussions. From childhood experiences, I had come to realize that there is something in human nature (in some persons) that seems to delight in imposing power or controlling the feelings -- especially the pain -- of another person or persons. I was (I still am) both horrified and fascinated by this appalling human tendency, a tendency which has become so prominent in our time.

I say "fascinated" because if we fail to understand this repulsive feature of human nature or capacity to harm others -- which exists in a small degree in everyone and in a pathological or colossal amount in a few people -- we can expect even more misery than we have known in the past. The very pervasiveness of cruelty makes it a necessary object of study and concern for all of us. It is because such deliberate and unfeeling mercilessness is something that I am not capable of directing at another person -- unintended harms is something everyone is capable of causing, as I say, myself included -- that I wish to know how it is that others can not only hurt people in such ways, but take pleasure in it. (That's you, Diana.) Worse, is to feel nothing at all. (Alex? Terry?)

Perhaps such pleasure is seen as a sign of efficiency and competence, or is incidental to obtaining loyalty or fear from others. The political world (or a courtroom) may be a good place to look for cruelty and for those who delight in inflicting it. Many people who call themselves "therapists" are closet sadists. Perhaps the same may be said of judges. (Tuchin)

Arendt attended Eichman's trial in Jerusalem during the early sixties, expecting to find a dragon-like figure of evil. Eichman was responsible for the deaths of millions in the crematoria and as a result of forced labor in Hitler's camps. Arendt expected a Lucifer-like villain or would-be antihero, making eloquent appeals for excuses or understanding. She discovered a minor bureaucrat, a legal functionary, a paper shuffler, whose thoughtless indifference to human suffering as "incidental" to the administration of rules and regulations reached a colossal scale. Catastrophic harm to countless others is "collateral damage," perhaps.

Eichman was pronounced sane by Israeli psychiatrists. He was polite, undistinguished, speaking in platitudes, explaining that his actions had not been based on any personal ill-will towards Jews. Some of his best friends had been Jews. It was never "personal." It was simply his responsibility, his "job" to follow the rules, to discharge an administrative task, regardless of his feelings (if he had any), and to do this as well as possible.

Eichman even misquoted Kant in an effort to explain the "rationality" of his actions. He did not select the ends, Eichman explained, he merely found the most "cost effective" means of achieving them. If Eichman were entrusted with administering a manufacturing plant for BMW or Mercedes Benz, he would have been just as efficient and his "troubles" would have been much the same, simply a matter of getting methods and goals aligned. (See "Terry Tuchin, Diana Lisa Riccioli and New Jersey's Agency of Torture" and "Is New Jersey Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz unethical or only incompetent?")

Eichman embodies a principle of "administrative dehumanization" underlying the unspeakable horror of the Holocaust and many other great evils since then -- a principle which is still very much a part of social life, even in the United States, as demonstrated by recent books describing torture techniques developed, allegedly, by the CIA. These techniques include psychological tortures making use of behaviorist methods, which (I have reason to believe) are part of secret information-gathering in places like New Jersey. Professor Alfred McCoy writes in his recent study of CIA tortures:

"Gottlieb devised his own LSD tests on unsuspecting subjects, once spiking the drinks of colleagues during a meeting at a Maryland lodge, ... . One of the other CIA scientists, Dr. Frank R. Olson, suffered an immediate mental breakdown and, several days after taking the drug, jumped or was pushed from the tenth floor of New York's Statler Hotel, where the agency had confined him for observation -- a crime the CIA covered up for the next twenty years by reporting the death to the family as a suicide. After telling an internal agency inquiry that the fatality was 'just one of the risks running with scientific experimentation,' Gottlieb received a mild reprimand for 'poor judgment' and continued to play a prominent role in [mind control] experiments. ..."

This sounds like Terry Tuchin in New Jersey. Arendt writes:

"The camps are meant not only to exterminate people and degrade human beings, but also to serve the ghastly experiment of eliminating, under scientifically controlled conditions, spontaneity itself as an expression of human behavior and transforming the human personality into a mere thing, [objects?] into something that even animals are not; for Pavlov's dog, which as we know, was trained to eat not when it was hungry but when a bell rang, was a perverted animal." ("Not One More Victim.")

To turn or reduce a human being not just to the status of an animal, but into something less than an animal, less than a legal subject -- even less than organism, but only an object -- was essential to all Nazi efforts to "correct" so-called "sub-persons," by finding a "final solution" to the problem of such beings. (This last sentence has been corrected after the insertion of more "errors" by hackers confirming my point in this essay -- along with some of my worst fears for America.)

Concentration camp inmates included not only Jews, but homosexuals, socialists, gypsies, priests, intellectuals and other "perverts and weird persons." Nearly one million gays were exterminated by Hitler. Maybe as many prostitutes died in the camps. The bizarre effect of this dehumanization of victims was to dehumanize victimizers even more. Power always deforms the powerful much more than its victims. (See "Behaviorism is Evil," and "Even in New Jersey there comes a time when silence is betrayal.")

"The essential step on the road to total domination is to kill the juridical person in man." (Hannah Arendt, Richard Bernstein) This process began long before death camps were created, with the first attempts to decide how others should live, what they should believe, how they should speak, or what they should not be allowed to say in the interest of a mythical "normality" or "niceness," which was defined by the fantasies of powerful rulers having nothing to do with the realities of human beings living in the world. Does this sound like today's political correctness to you? ("'Revolutionary Road': A Movie Review" and "'The Stepford Wives': A Movie Review.")

Consider the Dred Scott decision in American Constitutional history and ask yourself: How is it that highly intelligent people spent so much energy -- believing that they were being utterly rational -- in fixing the exact fraction of humanity belonging to a person of African ancestry? Think of the methodical planning to get as many prospective slaves as possible into the hulls of slave ships. Recall the "scientists" spending hours measuring the skulls of African-born persons to decide the precise extent to which they were intellectually inferior to whites. Then think of Dr. Mengele's experiments with infliction of pain on Jewish children to demonstrate their inferiority in "sensitivity" to stimuli, an "inferiority" that was simply seen as too obvious to require argument or evidence. These torturers all saw themselves as scientists: "I am your superior," I was told by a commentator at my discussion group. This same person argued for an essentially incoherent conclusion without being aware of the fact. ("Why I am not an ethical relativist.")

Now I ask you to consider the efforts of New Jersey's tainted Supreme Court to design mechanisms for the imposition of the death penalty, so as not to be criticized for racism, whatever racist executions may result. Under so corrupt a system -- even torture becomes a subject for hypocrisy -- concealing a sub rosa reality of naked and brutal power used against people, then disguised with the forms of law but never its substance. Ethics? Abolition of the death penalty in New Jersey was a legislative decision.

If you understand that mentality of sadism, then you will appreciate how persons can deliberately insert errors in written work, destroy canvases, set fire to musical instruments, take a sledge hammer to statues. It is but a short step from such actions to physical torture, rape, and murder. The death penalty in New Jersey never struck down by the state Supreme Court.

This grotesque reality of torture is KNOWN to those who permit its continued existence, as is the daily suffering of victims that is covered-up or ignored by American judges. New Jersey's Supreme Court knows that shrinks -- like Tuchin and Riccioli -- have tortured people and committed worse crimes, like rape, that N.J. government agencies have made use of illegally obtained information, that human rights have been ignored in violation of federal and state criminal laws -- but the "justices" will pretend not to know any of this. Ethics? Whose ethics? Continued silence is criminal, Mr. Rabner. Did "Dr." Tuchin or Diana Lisa Riccioli file reports concerning me or realted matters and persons with your court or with the OAE at any time since 1988, Mr. Rabner? If so, I herewith, again, request those reports since they concern me. ("No More Cover-Ups and Lies, Chief Justice Rabner!" and "Stuart Rabner and Conduct Unbecoming to the Judiciary in New Jersey.")

Joseph Kanon writes in The Good German of memos intercepted between an engineer for the Reich and a government clerk -- this is based on solid historical research -- in which the difficulties with the pipes being used in the gas ovens were discussed matter-of-factly. It was merely a technical engineering problem of how "obstructions might be diminished and efficiency increased," so that more persons might be killed, more quickly, thus "enhacing production quotas, leading to promotions for both men." Mr. McGill?

When such discussions take place among ordinary people, who greet their neighbors in the morning, kiss their children in the evening, pet their dogs and read the daily newspaper -- then something new has entered history, something affecting our understanding of what law is and of what persons must be. Think of how rational those memos seem, until you realize what is being discussed. Lon Fuller speaks of "the morality that makes law possible" -- possible as an institution, that is, and of what persons should be in the eyes of judges. Now think of Bush's torture lawyers. Get it? Hannah Arendt comments:

"I was struck by a manifest shallowness in Eichman that made it impossible to trace the incontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives. The deeds were monstrous, but the doer -- at least, the very effective one now on trial -- was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous. ... It was as though in those last minutes [Eichman] was summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness has taught us -- the lesson of the fearsome, word and thought defying 'banality of evil.' ..." ("Drawing Room Comedy: A Philosophical Essay in the Form of a Film Script.")

Eichman is now a New Jersey lawyer, judge or politician. I saw a municipal court judge in New Jersey sentence a man to jail -- when he had the discretion not to do so and there was evidence to suggest that no useful purpose would be served by a jail sentence -- all of which falls within the scope of a judge's discretion. I can accept that much. This individual sentenced to jail, however, was then asked or ordered to sit in the rear of the courtroom and observe the proceedings for the remainder of the court calendar, with periodic asides from the judge concerning how pleasant the accomodations in the jail would be for him, and his lawyer was told to remain with the client, to sit in the rear of the courtroom and "keep him company." Many lawyers can tell similar (or worse) stories. Regular insults of this lawyer were a part of the experience of legal "practice" in the Garden State. ("What is Law?")

The next time I read this essay new "errors" will be inserted in it by persons who are familiar with the events described in: "Terry Tuchin, Diana Lisa Riccioli, and New Jersey's Agency of Torture." This man in judicial robes -- I hesitate to call him a "judge" -- derived almost a sexual thrill from humiliations of others and his own histrionic performances. People frustrating efforts to post these essays -- by obstructing my communicative efforts or hacking into my computer to deface my texts -- are similarly enjoying hurting someone because they can do it with impunity and anonymously. After years of guilt-free cruelty, they get off on it. It is not simply that I object to this treatment, but that I find it both baffling and repulsive that a civilized jursidiction continues to be apathetic to cruelty and sadism.

I saw a mother explain, tearfully, to a judge that her son needed help with a drug problem, not a jail sentence and a judge's chuckling response: "Don't you worry, mam. He's going to get a lot of help." It was all very amusing for him. I saw a judge keep a man in jail, in a matrimonial matter, because he was late with a child support payment. This ensured that he would be unable to work or earn money in any legal way to make future payments. Thus, guaranteeing the denial of all future child support payments by him, ensuring imposition of further jail sentences, costing the taxpayers money both for jailing the husband and for support of his children. This jailing was a criminalization of temporary poverty. ("Psychological Torture in the American Legal System.")

There are any number of instances in the U.S. legal system (especially in the worst places, like New Jersey) in which poverty is punished by jailing, usually when it results in an inability to pay a fine or when persons are arrested for being homeless and fined, then jailed for being unable to pay the fine, which explains why they were homeless. Poverty is a category of moral and legal fault in the eyes of many U.S. judges, especially in New Jersey. Politically connected law firms in some counties have special ex parte access to judges and court records. How much does a day in jail cost these days, Agustin? What is today's rate? ("Corrupt Law Firms, Senator Bob, and New Jersey Ethics" and "New Jersey's Politically-Connected Lawyers On the Tit.")

It took several judges and appeals for one judge to finally figure out that this was not "working." It was explained that "word was out that men should be sent to jail for not paying child support, so that's what we're doing." Such a so-called "blanket policy" allows Supreme Court justices or a legal system to claim to be "tough" on "dead beat dads." But bumper sticker solutions to social ills do not work (outside of election campaigns) and judges know this. Imposition of jail sentences (another "error" inserted, then corrected -- again) was often greeted with an utter lack of feeling -- sometimes with humor -- on the part of judges destroying these men's lives, thus ensuring denial of future child support payments to their children. Worse is done to people in criminal proceedings and juvenile matters, every day. I cannot list the number of young men who died before age 30 as a result of such practices. Is this ethical, Mr. Rabner? ("Have you no shame, Mr. Rabner?")

Some judges ENJOY sending people to jail. "I believe in punishment," one judge said. I wonder if he was one of the public officials subsequently indicted by the feds. If so, he may have changed his mind about punishment.

I have no doubt that many of these New Jersey judges could easily have performed the tasks assigned to Eichman, if they were in his situation, with few reservations and (probably) no guilt. Some would volunteer to do such work. Diana would relish the opportunity to torment women and children by the thousands. (See the film "Judgment at Nuremberg.")

After all, tortures in state jails and even the horrors at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have been excused, recently, as falling under one of the "exceptions" to the applicability of Constitutional protections, while U.S. obligations under international law are simply ignored by many U.S. tribunals. ("Is America's Legal Ethics a Lie?" and "American Doctors and Torture.")

These actions or tortures of "detainees" will come back to haunt us as a nation. Equal horrors are routine in New Jersey's jails and prisons, even (I have excellent reason to believe) in secret "information-gathering" for that state's agencies. How ya doing in Ridgewood, Terry? Still claim to be a Jew? Care to delete a letter from this essay in my absence? Is that your best response? ("An Open Letter to My Torturers in New Jersey, Terry Tuchin and Diana Lisa Riccioli.")

Eichman is symbolic of a unique evil that is only possible in depersonalized contemporary societies, in which others are not SEEN as human, so that they can be made fitting objects of manipulation or destruction by the powerful (usually acting secretly), spouting banalities, believing or claiming that they act for their victims' "own good." Along with Eichman, after all, we have the example of Dr. Joseph Mengele, whose goal was to "learn from" his victims. That's you, Terry Tuchin. ("Terry Tuchin, Diana Lisa Riccioli, and New Jersey's Agency of Torture" then "Diana's Friend Goes to Prison" and "Jennifer Velez is a 'Dyke Magnet!'")

One is reduced to numbness and silence before the enormity of the total death of human compassion and moral sense not in the victims of dehumanization, but in their victimizers. This is especially true when those victimizers wear black robes or white coats (New Jersey's Terry Tuchin and Diana Lisa Riccioli).

It is easy to begin with assaults, manipulations, theft and unsought instructions imposed on others. Soon that need to control the "little people" -- for their own good -- will lead to even worse violations. I will give the final word to George Steiner in his most unforgettable paragraph:

"It is a matter of macabre semantics, offensive to reason, to try and determine whether or not, and in what ways, the Shoah, the Holocaust is unique; whether or not it defines a singularity in the history of mankind. Perhaps it does. Perhaps there is no other instance, precisely analogous of ontological massacre -- this is to say, of the deliberate murder of human beings whose guilt, minutely verbalized and set out by bureaucracy, was that of BEING. [Perhaps African slavery in the U.S.?] The millions of Jews beaten, burnt, tortured, marched, starved, gassed to extinction, the men and women drowned in cess pits, the children thrown alive into fire, the old men hanged on meat-hooks, had committed the sole crime of existing. Even the fetus had to be torn out of the womb, lest there be one Jew left to bear witness, to remember [a torturer once said to me: 'we'll pretend that nothing happened!'] (though no one would believe him or her, a point the Nazis made with derisive logic). ... it may be self-hatred in European Christendom, [that] created on this earth a material, mirror-image of imagined Hell. Time and space were made static eternities of suffering in what the Nazis, unconsciously echoing Dante called, 'the anus of the world' (Auschwitz)."

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