4 thoughts on “Nightcap

  1. Walter Johnson’s essay is refreshing and very perceptive, but I fear that even while taking such a linguistic position he seems to make the error throughout the essay of using “dehumanization” as if it were a term denoting that actual removal of humanity, rather than a social engineering tactic meant to have that former effect. Dehumanization is a process that can lower the esteem of (in the example) slave owners of slaves and even slaves own esteem of themselves to levels below what we typically grant humans, but I have never seen someone use the term to indicate that the perpetrating party had through use of the tactic actually reduced the victim’s humanity. I admit that this may be an insufficient reading, but likely many others will come away with a similar read.

  2. “Even at the outset I wasn’t selling a pig in a poke when I declared that at least 50 percent of Hungary’s banking system must be owned by Hungarians — and we’ve managed to achieve that state of affairs.”

    This is the rub, right here. And if this is communism, then Abraham Lincoln was a communist and was killed for being a communist. If you have not before, go read Lincoln’s LAST address to congress about finally consolidating control of the currency-issuing function of banking under the federal government.

    No, I think here Communist is being used purely as a pejorative.

    Reading the article I was shocked by the images of the float with the charicatured Polish and Hungarian leaders – such a primitive boilerplate of warmongering propaganda!! I was not shocked by their unfamiliarity in style, but rather the opposite. To see Germany so grossly attempting to cultivate causus belli is startling. I couldn’t imagine what political force could accomplish it in such a relatively peaceable nation, then I saw that its objects were taking action against the banks.

    Of course I’m sure you remember the violent regime change Germany organized against the people of Greece – a longtime member of NATO whose sovereignty and democratic rights we ourselves were obligated to defend, but did not.

    From the sound of it, the problem in Hungary at least, is less an issue of “Communism” and more an issue of leaders in Europe who did not miss the implications of seeing a democratically elected president deposed with police and military power, then replaced with an unelected, foreign agent of the European Central Bank in which Germany has such a stake. If you were the CEO of any organization – national or corporate – and you saw that all capital was controlled in molopoly fashion by such a predatory lender, would you not be serving the interest of your stakeholders and constituents to ensure that the organization held at least 50% of its own stock in an effort to ward off hostile takeover? This seems, to me, exactly the intent. In my opinion it is laudable, and probably the only practical route when we have seen how even sycophantic appeasement does not, in the end, ward of a violent, hostile coup when the bank comes calling. As if entire nations were naught but so many family farms.

  3. On the dehumanization piece, there is a burgeoning body of psychological data showing the neurological correlates of dehumanization, with subjects engaged in consideration of out-groups they tend to dehumanize displaying patterns of brain activity consistent with how they react to inanimate objects or even insects which elicit reactions of disgust. There is good reason why the Hutu Power radio station (RTLM) in Kigali broadcast calls to “kill the cockroaches” at the beginning of the Rwandan genocide. I take the author’s point about avoiding normative, aspirational uses of terms like “human” and “humane” in light of a history that shows us not only capable of, but even prone to, dehumanizing acts and thought patterns, but let’s not pretend this is a linguistic or purely conceptual issue. It penetrates deeply, right down to the very core of our mental being. What has been programmed through shared social evolutionary history, however, can also be deprogrammed. This too has been shown experimentally.

Please keep it civil

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