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Dirk Hanss
03-01-2007, 09:46 AM
The number of wars like WWII in which there is a clear demarcation between good and evil are few.
Well George, are you sure about WWII?
It is easy to mark many of the bad guys, which were the really good ones? Maybe you can mark even some those but the grey zone is huge.

I just learnt about finance groups, who started right in 1918 to support German rearmament, later NSDAP and at the same time Russion Communists, knowing that this could only lead to war. And about companies, who built German tanks in their subsidiaries, even while the war was ongoing, such earning money on several sides of the war. And seemingly the story did not end yet.

I have no formal proof yet, but what I have seen, made me shiver.

But I guess that even supports your argumentation as a whole. But I have to read the mentionned article yet.

Many regards

Dirk

Guilty Spark
03-04-2007, 05:16 PM
which were the really good ones?

The ones not eradicating an entire race.

Sadly of course "good guys" can quickly become monsters themselves. Be that as it may I think ww2 was pretty well a classic issue of good vs evil.

Roman Kremianski
03-04-2007, 07:44 PM
Are you serious Dirk?

Josh Reyer
03-04-2007, 09:50 PM
Are you serious Dirk?
I'm assuming Dirk's German, and thus less apt to see WWII in black and white.

hapkidoike
03-04-2007, 09:51 PM
It may be the case that genocide is "evil", but to make the claim that the Allied powers were necessarily "good" seems misleading. Look at what happened in Dresden. I am not trying to say that I am ok with Naziism, but I dont think it is fair to say that just because the U.S. and Europe defeated the "evil" axis powers that they behaved in a "good" or even humane manner throughout the war. This says nothing about why we agreed to go into such a conflict, which was probably not for the 'right' reasons, but hell its war right, we dont need to use "good" reasons.

Roman Kremianski
03-04-2007, 10:44 PM
Dunno...there will always be the "bad guys" in WW2 to me... What side are you guys on exactly? :uch:

This says nothing about why we agreed to go into such a conflict, which was probably not for the 'right' reasons

Who is "we" just to make sure before I reply?

Josh Reyer
03-04-2007, 10:46 PM
Dunno...there will always be the "bad guys" in WW2 to me...history proves it. What side are you guys on exactly? :uch:


The civilians'.

Mashu
03-04-2007, 11:24 PM
I just learnt about finance groups, who started right in 1918 to support German rearmament, later NSDAP and at the same time Russion Communists, knowing that this could only lead to war. And about companies, who built German tanks in their subsidiaries, even while the war was ongoing, such earning money on several sides of the war. And seemingly the story did not end yet.

Lot's of great opportunities for foreign companies in Germany after World War One. Without them bankrupt Germany wouldn't have been able to rearm. General Motors acquired Opel from the late '20s, Henry Ford (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/ford.html) built the Ford Werke in Cologne in 1931, General Electric was helping Krupp, Standard Oil(now Exxon) was with IG Farben, and many other large companies and banks helped the Nazis and they made huge profits from Hitler's rearmament program in the '30s. They helped the Nazi regime come to power and in return the Nazis got rid of the Bolshevik agitators and provided a secure business environment with less labor problems unlike back in the US. Unfortunately they were helping to create a monster. I guess they didn't have business ethics classes back then.

It is easy to mark many of the bad guys, which were the really good ones? Maybe you can mark even some those but the grey zone is huge.

Lot's of good guys and bad guys spread around but I don't really see any grey zones. Just a big mess.

Nice can of worms Dirk. :)

Kevin Wilbanks
03-05-2007, 04:01 AM
Let's see. I can think of lots of wars with a clear demarcation of good vs. evil: The Empire vs. The Rebellion, Sauron's army vs. the people of Middle Earth, The Borg vs. The Federation of Planets...

Good vs. Evil is a mythical construct. It can be meaningful in terms of understanding people's beliefs and values but trying to go out and find its literal representation in the world is like searching for Leprauchans or Mount Olympus.

Luc X Saroufim
03-05-2007, 07:34 AM
Let's see. I can think of lots of wars with a clear demarcation of good vs. evil: The Empire vs. The Rebellion, Sauron's army vs. the people of Middle Earth, The Borg vs. The Federation of Planets...

Good vs. Evil is a mythical construct. It can be meaningful in terms of understanding people's beliefs and values but trying to go out and find its literal representation in the world is like searching for Leprauchans or Mount Olympus.

you're forgetting about Superman and Spiderman. they choose to save every civilian from any crime, constantly put themselves in harm's way, and they sacrifice a social life, love life, family life, and salary in order to do it.

Dirk Hanss
03-05-2007, 09:12 AM
The civilians'.
Yes Joshua, but all civilians?
Those civilians, who knew about the KZ, but preferred not to know details, when their neighbourghs were sent there? Because of fear or maybe other reasons?

Those civilians, who did not want to help, when some 1000 hungry and desperate passengers of the St. Louis waitet to get ashore somewhere in the New World. Do you think it were only the Cuban and US governments to blame?

And the Fords and Rockefellers in the other post were civilians, too.

Even in my family I cannot say, how good or bad they were. My mother's father was German in Southern Jutland, which became danish after WWI. He was member of the Party(NSDAP) and voted for Northern Schleswig (same area from the other point of view) being reunited withe the Reich again.

On the other hand his children were allowed to play with their Jewish neighbourghs, he and his friends supported some artists that were marked as degenerated artists and clearly anti-fascists. Untils his death in 1980 he did not really know, what he did wrong. He just wanted to be a good German.

There is no simple answer for many of them.

Well the children, who died in the first years by some bombs. They were not the bad guys. But they didn't have a chance, to do somthing good, did they?

Best regards

Dirk

Dirk Hanss
03-05-2007, 09:31 AM
Lot's of great opportunities for foreign companies in Germany after World War One. Without them bankrupt Germany wouldn't have been able to rearm. General Motors acquired Opel from the late '20s, Henry Ford (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/ford.html) built the Ford Werke in Cologne in 1931, General Electric was helping Krupp, Standard Oil(now Exxon) was with IG Farben, and many other large companies and banks helped the Nazis and they made huge profits from Hitler's rearmament program in the '30s. They helped the Nazi regime come to power and in return the Nazis got rid of the Bolshevik agitators and provided a secure business environment with less labor problems unlike back in the US. Unfortunately they were helping to create a monster. I guess they didn't have business ethics classes back then.

Lot's of good guys and bad guys spread around but I don't really see any grey zones. Just a big mess.

Nice can of worms Dirk. :)

Thanks Matthew,
yes that was, what I was thinking about. probably they did not know what kind of monster they created. But their goal was obviously a war in Europe. They earned upon constructing the German tanks and later helping the soviet army (who paid them)?. Did they have any ethics?

No, I did not want to open such a can. I just wanted to support george in his statement, that segregattion between good and evil is not an easy job even not in WWII. even not in Desert Storm (1st. Gulf War) or most others, where it seems to be clear, when you first hear about them.

But we better stop this. Yes I am german and blach and white is not easy. But I know that whatever we could find here, I know Hitler and his Nazis wre bloody evil and their culpability cannot be deminished by finding other bad guys. And it was clearly right to find them. But that just does not mean that all white knights were free of guilt.

Best regards

Dirk

Guilty Spark
03-05-2007, 10:11 AM
but I dont think it is fair to say that just because the U.S. and Europe defeated the "evil" axis powers that they behaved in a "good" or even humane manner throughout the war
Very true

But that just does not mean that all white knights were free of guilt.

No one said they were.
Soldiers and leaders on all sides did bad things. Over all however I think ww2 is a good example of good vs evil.
War of 1812. Perhaps the civil war (in theory).
War in Afghanistan. etc..

Do we go to war for purely good vs evil intentions? No way. Construction companies are lined up at the start line even before our soldiers cross the line of battle.

Amir Krause
03-06-2007, 07:26 AM
but I dont think it is fair to say that just because the U.S. and Europe defeated the "evil" axis powers that they behaved in a "good" or even humane manner throughout the war

Very true
But that just does not mean that all white knights were free of guilt.
No one said they were.
..
Do we go to war for purely good vs evil intentions? No way. Construction companies are lined up at the start line even before our soldiers cross the line of battle.

which were the really good ones?
The ones not eradicating an entire race.


Is it not amazing that WWII is currently judged as a "moral war" and Good Vs. Bad due to the Holocaust, while, during the war, the allies did very little to assist the Jews under Nazi regime and prevent the Holocaust? :confused:
The very same allies that had shown in multiple opportunities that they could not care less for the Nazi extermination of Jews. And refused to make any action in order of preventing or delaying it, including decision not to bomb the railways to the Gas chambers. Those very same countries view themselves today as the good guys, because the fought the Nazis. Only they forget the reasons for going to war had nothing to do with the Holocaust or with the racist Nazi dogma!!!

Lets not contort the history. The Nazis were evil, but the allies were not such good light bearing entities.

Amir

George S. Ledyard
03-06-2007, 09:07 AM
When I use the term "Good" here. I mean normal, human good, not some divine standard. Human beings do all sorts of stuff which is reprehensible. Especially in War. But there was simply no comparison between the actions of the two sides in WW2.

Look at the actions of the Allied Armies as they went through Axis Europe and compare them to the actions of the Germans or the Japanese in the territories they invaded... The Germans tried to systematically exterminate entire racial, ethnic, and even political groups. The Japanese brutality throughout East Asia and South Asia is quite well documented. I tried to read a book recently on the Rape of Nanking and I couldn't even finish it it was so depressing. It was beyond my darkest imagination. It was not the actions of a small group of out of control individuals, it was an entire army, purposely allowed, and even encouraged to run amok by their commanders.

Guilty Spark
03-06-2007, 10:19 AM
Is it not amazing that WWII is currently judged as a "moral war" and Good Vs. Bad due to the Holocaust, while, during the war, the allies did very little to assist the Jews under Nazi regime and prevent the Holocaust?

I've thought about this a lot and I'm inclined to agree. I can't help but imagine how different the war would have been, how many lives (jewsih and those assumed jewish) would have been saved by a much quicker intervention by the US.

Do people go to war because it's the right thing to do? As much as I wish it were the case no we don't. Theres tons of other factors. Money, public support, direct threat to your countries security and interests bla bla. I guess it's easy for me to sit here shrug an say we should have went simply because it was the right thing to do.

Be that as it may I'm in agreement with George. The depth of evil that that took root in the German war machine was just, well I can't even find a word for it.
You may say 'ya but on such and such a date the allies did this or that'. Sure of course thats going to happen.
The allies simply did not attempt the sytematic eradication of an entire race. Not even a race but anyone who resermbled that race. My fathers side is german/austrian. I have a big nose, I can't help but wonder at stories I've read of people being executed forhaving jewish looking noses and wonder if I too would have been killed.
Lining people up to save bullets etc.. I don't thik we need to revisit the attrocities in the thread. Anyway you look at it, in the end WW2 was a war where good was pitted aganst evil.

Kevin Wilbanks
03-07-2007, 12:06 AM
Anyway you look at it, in the end WW2 was a war where good was pitted aganst evil.

Sorry, but no, not in the way I look at it. To me "evil" is a word that only belongs in fiction and religious schemes. It's like saying the Nazis or the Japanese were "devils" or "goblins". Unless you are talking in poetic metaphor, it's just silly. They were people, and as such they thought they were making good decisions given the choices they had, just like us. It so happens that we strongly disagree with them, and if they were here now doing the same thing we might well grab some weapons and try to kill them in good conscience. We might have no doubt whatsoever that killing Nazis was the right course of action. That's still a far cry from the imputation of "evil".

"Evil" connotes the idea of people being inherently, willfully sinful, which is basically a mystical idea, or the idea of people doing bad things because they are bad, in full knowledge of how bad they are, which is at best extremely uncommon - depending on your philosophy of human motivation, perhaps even impossible.

It seems to me what y'all are trying to say is that it was a case where almost no one we currently consider sane would deem war against Nazis or Japanese circa 40's unjustified. This sounds better than adding the the concept of evil, and turning your statement into nonsense, but it's still unclear whether this is true. It is my understanding that there were many Quakers opposed the war on grounds of pacifist principle and many who still maintain that US participation in the war was wrong. I don't agree, but I have to say that Quakers are probably the most sane Christian sect I can think of.

George S. Ledyard
03-07-2007, 08:56 AM
"Evil" connotes the idea of people being inherently, willfully sinful, which is basically a mystical idea, or the idea of people doing bad things because they are bad, in full knowledge of how bad they are, which is at best extremely uncommon - depending on your philosophy of human motivation, perhaps even impossible.


Ok Kevin,
How does using babies cut from their mother's wombs for bayonet practice sound? Or hanging a Chinese peasant from a tree and systematically cutting slices off him to feed the guard dogs? Or blowing women to pieces with grenades for amusement. This was how the invading Japanese Army behaved in 1937 in China. Soldiers who were reluctant to engage in this behavior were ordered to do so by their officers. It wasn't just a couple of days of collective insanity, it lasted for over a month. No one is quite sure how many they killed.

I won't bother with the Germans as their depredations are well documented. Ask the Russians if they didn't believe that pure evil was loose in their country as the Waffen SS tried to exterminate the Slavs, every man woman and child? Or the Gypsies?

I am not saying that any people as a whole is "evil". But it is absolutely possible for "evil" to take hold in a country and that country's behavior go to the dark side.

I cannot think of any war in our history in which it was so clear that we needed to fight and that the war was necessary. It was also crystal clear, in this case, who the good guys were. I am quite the Lefty in most cases. I agree with Maj Gen Smedly Butler that "war is a racket". But WWII was that rare occasion in which it simply needed to be done. The behavior of the Allies couldn't even compare to what went on with the other side.

Hogan
03-07-2007, 09:25 AM
Sorry, but no, not in the way I look at it. To me "evil" is a word that only belongs in fiction and religious schemes. It's like saying the Nazis or the Japanese were "devils" or "goblins". Unless you are talking in poetic metaphor, it's just silly. They were people, and as such they thought they were making good decisions given the choices they had, just like us. It so happens that we strongly disagree with them, and if they were here now doing the same thing we might well grab some weapons and try to kill them in good conscience. We might have no doubt whatsoever that killing Nazis was the right course of action. That's still a far cry from the imputation of "evil".

"Evil" connotes the idea of people being inherently, willfully sinful, which is basically a mystical idea, or the idea of people doing bad things because they are bad, in full knowledge of how bad they are, which is at best extremely uncommon - depending on your philosophy of human motivation, perhaps even impossible.

It seems to me what y'all are trying to say is that it was a case where almost no one we currently consider sane would deem war against Nazis or Japanese circa 40's unjustified. This sounds better than adding the the concept of evil, and turning your statement into nonsense, but it's still unclear whether this is true. It is my understanding that there were many Quakers opposed the war on grounds of pacifist principle and many who still maintain that US participation in the war was wrong. I don't agree, but I have to say that Quakers are probably the most sane Christian sect I can think of.

Lordy, you're one of those moral relativists, aren't you?

Robert Rumpf
03-07-2007, 09:33 AM
Ok Kevin,
How does using babies cut from their mother's wombs for bayonet practice sound? Or hanging a Chinese peasant from a tree and systematically cutting slices off him to feed the guard dogs? Or blowing women to pieces with grenades for amusement. This was how the invading Japanese Army behaved in 1937 in China. Soldiers who were reluctant to engage in this behavior were ordered to do so by their officers. It wasn't just a couple of days of collective insanity, it lasted for over a month. No one is quite sure how many they killed.

Unit 731 is a forgotten corner of history, as well.
http://www.ww2pacific.com/unit731.html

But yeah.. reading "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" is pretty depressing, as well.

Josh Reyer
03-07-2007, 11:21 AM
I'm of the mind that human beings are, with a very, very, very few, unique exceptions, intelligent animals concerned largely with self-interest (which usually, but not always, includes immediate family). Human beings are also social animals, so when one creates societal pressure to benefit each other, human beings for the most part will bow to that pressure and obey certain minimal standards of societal benefit (let's call that "morality" for the moment).

Just as sometimes there are exceptional individuals born with capacity to act beyond their self-interest, there are certain humans who are either born broken, or somehow get broken along the way. For them they no longer care about even the basest of societal benefits, or if they do, they have a completely different set of assumptions for what societal benefit is.

Not infrequently, such people attain positions of power. Power to dictate societal pressure. And your basic human being, being largely concerned with self-interest, bows to that pressure. It can and has happened to virtually anyone. The experiements undertaken by Stanley Milgram and Solomon Asch have shown this. It doesn't take much to direct a human being's self-interest to foul purposes, or just to keep them in line.

From that point of view, I see World War II as an example of two countries with relatively unbroken (or at least less broken) leadership, and one certainly broken person in a position of power finding it within their self-interest at the time to fight against three countries led by broken human beings.

The scale of it, and certainly the degree of brokenness displayed by some of the principles certainly point to it as being ultimately a beneficial thing for human society to have engaged in. But Good vs. Evil? I don't quite see that. The Holocaust was horrible. The Rape of Nanking utterly reprehensible. But Stalin's regime was responsible for, conservatively, the death of 3 million people. The U.S. adopted the policy of attacking civilian targets, starting with the atrocious fire bombing campaigns of Le May, and culminating with the atomic bombs. I suppose one could say that the Germans killed more people than Stalin, and maybe even argue that Japanese war atrocities all together were worse than killing (at least) 330,000 Japanese non-combatants. Even so, I for one am not willing to say that because our atrocities were reactive rather than proactive, and were a bit less than the enemies atrocities, that we were on the side of Good. I see WWII as a battle of the Morally Ambiguous vs. the Certifiably Insane.

Kevin Wilbanks
03-07-2007, 11:56 AM
Ok Kevin,
How does using babies cut from their mother's wombs for bayonet practice sound? Or hanging a Chinese peasant from a tree and systematically cutting slices off him to feed the guard dogs? Or blowing women to pieces with grenades for amusement. This was how the invading Japanese Army behaved in 1937 in China. Soldiers who were reluctant to engage in this behavior were ordered to do so by their officers. It wasn't just a couple of days of collective insanity, it lasted for over a month. No one is quite sure how many they killed.

I won't bother with the Germans as their depredations are well documented. Ask the Russians if they didn't believe that pure evil was loose in their country as the Waffen SS tried to exterminate the Slavs, every man woman and child? Or the Gypsies?

I am not saying that any people as a whole is "evil". But it is absolutely possible for "evil" to take hold in a country and that country's behavior go to the dark side.

I cannot think of any war in our history in which it was so clear that we needed to fight and that the war was necessary. It was also crystal clear, in this case, who the good guys were. I am quite the Lefty in most cases. I agree with Maj Gen Smedly Butler that "war is a racket". But WWII was that rare occasion in which it simply needed to be done. The behavior of the Allies couldn't even compare to what went on with the other side.

I don't like the sound of any of those behaviors, but I don't think my personal likes and dislikes determine good vs. evil. You are counter-arguing against a position I haven't expressed. I didn't say that I liked what the Nazis or Japanese did, or that didn't like what the Allies did better.

The argument I'm making is about the absolutism and mystical conceptual scheme implied by the use of the word "evil". It's silly, or it would be if it wasn't precisely this kind of thinking that drives wars and gets that kind of barbaric behavior started in the first place.

A simplistic scheme of "Good vs. Evil" and the accompanying dehumanization of enemies is the very root of what you are calling "Evil". As Josh and others here have pointed out, reality honestly examined just doesn't submit to this kind of simplistic interpretation. It isn't necessary to the process of identifying unacceptable behaviors and putting a stop to them either, so why buy into it and continue the cycle?

Right now we have an administration that started a war based on this sort of thinking (or at least claiming to), and it's certainly how the designated bad guys of the hour (terrorists, Islamic fundamentalists) think. Look back at almost any time in history in any part of the world and you'll find the same thing. "Good vs. Evil" is basically the essence of pro-war propaganda.

Guilty Spark
03-07-2007, 12:58 PM
Sorry, but no, not in the way I look at it. To me "evil" is a word that only belongs in fiction and religious schemes.

Thats fine. The same people look at it, the holocaust never happened. People look at things their own way. To quote the hitch hikers guide to the galaxy. My eyes and ears are my universe, all else is heresay.

I don't like the sound of any of those behaviors, but I don't think my personal likes and dislikes determine good vs. evil.

Kevin if you don't consider cutting babies from the stomaches of their mothers or slicing off someones parts while their still alive to feed an animal evil, well then what can I say.

Bush, for example, does a great job at sounding stupid and blatently tries to dehumanize "the bad guys" with all his evil doer talk. Yes some people will use good and evil like that to further their own agendas. That doesn't mean there there still isn't evil people out there- there are. We've seen it in ww2 and we see it even today.

How someone can read George's examples of evil men and not want to do everything in their power to stop stuff like that from occuring ever again I can't understand.

Kevin Wilbanks
03-07-2007, 02:10 PM
Thats fine. The same people look at it, the holocaust never happened...

How someone can read George's examples of evil men and not want to do everything in their power to stop stuff like that from occuring ever again I can't understand.

First, the argument was clearly about a disagreement over conceptual point of view, not my disputing that factual events happened, and you know it. An extremely weak analogy. Second, and for about the fourth time, I did not say anything about not trying to stop people from killing babies, or whatever. In fact, I explicitly stated that I do not like these behaviors, at least twice, and that it is perfectly possible to dislike a behavior and try to stop it without invoking mythical absolutist concepts.

Did you even read what I wrote? Do you really have to leap right to making up implications that I deny reality and support baby-killing as an attempt to discredit me? How does lying and false accusation rate in this absolute 'moral' scheme of yours?

Tom Fish
03-07-2007, 03:10 PM
Hi Kevin,
If someone describes chocolate cake as either good or evil, I understand the point they are making regardless of my religious beliefs. On the other hand, your blatant disregard of infants could be described as either appalling or evil and I would understand that as well. Some have described my sense of humor as warped or evil and I get their point. Even though some words used, may not fit their definition completely, the conversation could still be mutually completed. When someone tells me that genocide, homicide, serial killers, or sausage wrapped in a waffle and served on a stick are evil, I get their point.
Best Regards
Tom

Guilty Spark
03-07-2007, 03:17 PM
Did you even read what I wrote? Do you really have to leap right to making up implications that I deny reality and support baby-killing as an attempt to discredit me? How does lying and false accusation rate in this absolute 'moral' scheme of yours?

No I didn't read a word you said I intended to just put words in your mouth ;)

I'm not sure about making implications. I read your comments and replied according to how they made me feel.
You don't feel that killing babies is evil not because its wrong but because you don't believe in good and evil. Semantics? You think it's a dungeons and dragonsish way of approaching the issue.

While I can understand your point of view Kevin I simply don't agree. I have read about evil. I have heard stores of evil and I have seen the existance of evil with my own eyes.

I never accused you of liking these behaviors, atleast I don't think I did. If thats how MY post made you feel then you are certianly in the right to feel slighted regardls sof my intentions. I'm just not as verbose as most of you.

How does lying and falsely accusing fit in? I'm assuming you mean to suggest that I infact lied and faslely accused. Well I did not. Your post came across as such to me so I replied.

Your argument is that good and evil is what, mythical? Thats fair. I think that perhaps during WW2 maybe many believed that evil was mythical (as per your explination) and perhaps if they did not, and they seen that evil truly existed, they would have entered the war sooner thus saving what could have been millions of lives.

And I appologize for the grammar, spell check isn't working for me.

Kevin Leavitt
03-07-2007, 03:37 PM
The problem I have with the concepts of Good or Evil is that they are divisional definitions of two extremes. I understand what Kevin is saying.

The problem with Good and Evil is that they ARE useful concepts, definitions we use to help us understand the world and manage our conception of it.

Their are moral actions and immoral actions, things that are good and things that are harmful (bad).

People are intellegent, and people make choices.

We can justifiy our actions and say, well I didn't have a choice, or they forced me to kill the baby. You made a choice of valuing your life over the babies.

I can understand labeling the concept of what happened as evil. It is horrific to think that people woudl do these type of things on a societal level! Individual I can concieve of, but societal!

However in the big picture GOOD and EVIL do problems for us. when we start viewing one society as GOOD another as EVIL. Ourselves as GOOD and Sadam Hussein as EVIL.

I think we have to consider that we are apart of the evil that he represents, no matter how small a part we play. I think it really does us no good to say "this is GOOD and this is EVIL".

Like Kevin W. I agree it is illogical to divide along those lines as it wipes out a whole bunch of middle ground which is very important to understanding the etiology of conflict and ultimately resolving it.

Michael Varin
03-07-2007, 03:53 PM
All of the information I got while in high school and college was the court historian version of WWII. When I graduated from college, I believed WWII was a case of good v. evil. Since that time, I've done much more reading and had access to different perspectives, and now I am of the belief that the mythology of WWII is doing us great harm.

Ooops. Gotta run.

Kevin Leavitt
03-07-2007, 04:09 PM
All my knowldege came from watching Hogan's Heroes. Funny because my office is in the one of buildings that was a part of STALAG 383.

http://www.wartimememories.co.uk/pow/stalag383.html

Nothing like Hogans Heroes!

I have talked with many former German Soldiers that were caught up in this as much as the next guy that was drafted in the U.S.

There is a Deutsches War Memorial on a mountain in Garmisch Germany that is covered with the photographs of soldiers that were killed in the war. There pain and their families pain was every bit as real as an allied soldiers.

It does not excuse the acts of those that actively or passively participated or ignored the acts that happened around them. It takes courage to stand up for what is right.

It is scary to me how quickly we can become deluded into justifying our actions as human beings into doing some of the things that we have done as a society in the past.

We must remember these things and not let them happen.

Dirk Hanss
03-07-2007, 04:57 PM
All my knowldege came from watching Hogan's Heroes.

It is hard to say, but my knowledge is not much wider. When I recall my time at a Bavarian high school, it seems as if we started with old Egypt, Greece, the Romans, a little bit Middle Age which I do not anything about, but a few rmperors, Reformation and the 30 year war, French Revolution, Unification of the German Reich, WWI, The Weimar Republic (a short time of chaotic democracy) and then came the end of the third year. We just heard a bit about a guy called Hitler and his party, but somewhere between 1930 and 1938, the occupation of Austria and Bohemia, the year was over. Next year we started again with French Revolution under other aspects. But never really had time to cover the Nazi time in depth.

Well I learnt a little bit more since then and not only from Hogan's Heroes, but I am still ashamed how few I really know.

Thank you Kevin for your good posts. A few more of your type and we could hope, that at least some of these ugly aspects would not occur again.

Unfortunately those people, who have direct access to all archives, even the most secret ones, and legions of assistents, who could help finding the essence of the past, pretend not to remember and that the actual situation is totally different from what happened before.

But whatever we do in our own little sphere has an effect.

Best regards

Dirk

George S. Ledyard
03-07-2007, 05:26 PM
I may not know much about "Good" and "Evil" but I know it when I see it.
- George

hapkidoike
03-07-2007, 10:30 PM
I may not know much about "Good" and "Evil" but I know it when I see it.
- George

The problem I have with the "I know it when I see it" argument, which was used extensively by people in my aesthetics class in university, is that without a clear set of necessary and sufficient conditions all one must do is make the claim that X is "evil" or "bad" to make it so. Language requires the use of definitions, and language is shared property so as long as we agree we can define "evil" any way we want to. I think the main problem here is that the idea of "evil" almost requires us to approach it from a moral/ethical tradition, and most folks don't like to agree on what is important when it comes to the hierarchy of values. I would contend that "evil" has something to do with a person or persons prohibitively limiting another individuals or groups rights, but that is because I buy into the ideas of liberalism (do not confuse me with being A LIBERAL in the current political sense). But given that, a fascist or communist might say that I am 'evil' merely for holding on to such ideas. Given that we cannot agree on a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for a term such as this it is really only acting as an evaluative term, which says "I don't like the way X behaves" as opposed to saying something about the action itself.

TeppoLeinonen
03-08-2007, 01:41 AM
Good, Evil. I can't really see the World War II like that. Especially not from the viewpoint, where Allies are always good.

For Finland, what WW2 was about was national survival against Soviet Union. Who we had helping us depended on the 'Superpower' phase of the War.

Look up Winter War. Soviet invasion, barely beaten back. World's sympathies were on Finland's side. But few years later when Soviet Union was a Valued Member of the Allies in their war againt Germany. (But not Japan. Check out when Soviet Union declared war on Japan.)

Michael Varin
03-08-2007, 02:12 AM
I may not know much about "Good" and "Evil" but I know it when I see it.OK. Was Joseph Stalin good or evil? Hitler was an evil murderer, but I believe I could make an effective argument that Stalin was worse. Prior to WWII Stalin had already killed around 15 million of his own people. Stalin was our ally in WWII, and at the end of the war we turned over Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe to him.

It's worth asking, is combating "evil" a legitimate reason to go to war? When considering the great cost of war, it's important to recognize that even in US victories we have had significant losses of freedom.

Somewhere around 60 million people were killed in WWII, more than half of these were civilians. Sounds like a solution that's worse than the problem.

I would say that war itself is evil and should be avoided if possible. For me there are two situations that justify war: 1) fighting off the threat of domination by another people, 2) throwing off an existing domination.

Kevin Wilbanks
03-08-2007, 03:43 AM
Given that we cannot agree on a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for a term such as this it is really only acting as an evaluative term, which says "I don't like the way X behaves" as opposed to saying something about the action itself.

This is exactly what I was talking about. I spent many years studying various philosophies, and eventually came to a non-philosophy along these lines. Morality itself is unnecessary for people who are honest and self-aware.

If you see someone killing a baby, you don't need to consult a hallowed text to figure out how to respond to it or try to figure out whether the person is "evil" in some absolute sense... in fact, that's all a bunch of egocentric window dressing that will just convolute things. Instead, what you really need is to be in touch with your own perceptions and feelings in an immediate way that will allow you to act without a lot of mental baggage getting in your way. Showing up with an openness of mind and being and trusting in your own gut responses is far more important than subscribing to any kind of conceptual scheme, and in fact is diametrically opposed this sort of thinking.

People want to think that their desires and aversions are sanctified by all-powerful gods or that they can be proved to be true objectively. This is all about ego-justification and existential insecurity. If you can come to terms with the fact that you are just an animal with subjective likes and dislikes and go from there, you can be a much more content, effective, and harmonious being in the world. In the end, far fewer babies will be killed, not to mention adults.

George S. Ledyard
03-08-2007, 08:55 AM
The problem I have with the "I know it when I see it" argument, which was used extensively by people in my aesthetics class in university, is that without a clear set of necessary and sufficient conditions all one must do is make the claim that X is "evil" or "bad" to make it so. Language requires the use of definitions, and language is shared property so as long as we agree we can define "evil" any way we want to. I think the main problem here is that the idea of "evil" almost requires us to approach it from a moral/ethical tradition, and most folks don't like to agree on what is important when it comes to the hierarchy of values. I would contend that "evil" has something to do with a person or persons prohibitively limiting another individuals or groups rights, but that is because I buy into the ideas of liberalism (do not confuse me with being A LIBERAL in the current political sense). But given that, a fascist or communist might say that I am 'evil' merely for holding on to such ideas. Given that we cannot agree on a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for a term such as this it is really only acting as an evaluative term, which says "I don't like the way X behaves" as opposed to saying something about the action itself.

It is absolutely true that others may come to entirely different solutions when it comes to the "I know it when I see it" rule. But ultimately it's still up to you. When the majority of the population comes to a version which you cannot, in good conscience, accept, then it's time to fight or leave.

We have a government of laws in order to constrain public behavior according to codes developed by society. But society is quite capable of deciding on codes which to the individual could be immoral. There is no way I can let the folks running the show decide what I think is right and wrong. When things, by my own standards are right, they are good. When they are not, they are bad. When they cross over a certain point on the continuum, they become evil.

This is a matter of personal honor. No one else can decide this for me. This is the conclusion of the post WWII war crimes trials as well since everyone involved was acting lawfully according to the standards set by their own governments and superiors ups.

George S. Ledyard
03-08-2007, 09:12 AM
OK. Was Joseph Stalin good or evil? Hitler was an evil murderer, but I believe I could make an effective argument that Stalin was worse. Prior to WWII Stalin had already killed around 15 million of his own people. Stalin was our ally in WWII, and at the end of the war we turned over Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe to him.

It's worth asking, is combating "evil" a legitimate reason to go to war? When considering the great cost of war, it's important to recognize that even in US victories we have had significant losses of freedom.

Somewhere around 60 million people were killed in WWII, more than half of these were civilians. Sounds like a solution that's worse than the problem.

I would say that war itself is evil and should be avoided if possible. For me there are two situations that justify war: 1) fighting off the threat of domination by another people, 2) throwing off an existing domination.

A) I am not making a case for war as a good way to solve anything
B) once one goes to war, one damages oneself to quite a degree because of what one must do to win; there is nothing good about war; it is simply about survival of ones life or ones freedoms or ones country, etc
C) I in no way minimize the evil that was Stalin. Notice he signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler; birds of a feather... However, the discussion was around WWII as a "just war". When WWII started, Stalin was not crossing Europe with a conquering army nor was he invading Asia, raping and pillaging as he went. He represented no threat to the populace outside his own country. The fact that he was the Henry Ford of mass murder, making him high on the list of the most definitively evil men in history, wasn't, in most people's minds, a good reason to go to war, since as you say, the cure of war is often worse for folks than the original illness. One can make a case for the idea that the Anarchists had it right and that if we didn't have governments around to get us in trouble, collective insanity like war wouldn't come about. But I don't think that's really been possible since we stopped living in forty person hunter gatherer group.

George S. Ledyard
03-08-2007, 09:27 AM
Good, Evil. I can't really see the World War II like that. Especially not from the viewpoint, where Allies are always good.

For Finland, what WW2 was about was national survival against Soviet Union. Who we had helping us depended on the 'Superpower' phase of the War.

Look up Winter War. Soviet invasion, barely beaten back. World's sympathies were on Finland's side. But few years later when Soviet Union was a Valued Member of the Allies in their war against Germany. (But not Japan. Check out when Soviet Union declared war on Japan.)

No one has maintained that the Allies were always good. In fact it would be impossible to be entirely good and wage war, I think. But in the big picture, if you look at what we did, it was, on balance clearly motivated by good intentions. We totally destroyed two countries and then proceeded to rebuild them and make them into prosperous democracies. Once the war was done, we did turn our attention to what we saw as the next evil to confront, namely the Soviet Union. I think that both the Russians and the Americans have long made the distinction between the actions of the governments and the people of the countries. Our peoples have generally liked each other even though our governments have been enemies. As for the Finns, it is true that they waged an almost impossible war against it's encroaching neighbor and world sympathy was with them. It was clear there who the good guys were and were not. That's what I mean when I say, you know it when you see it. The fact that the Finns, in order to survive, needed to have support from the Germans, didn't in anyone's minds make them bad guys. The fact that, once the war was on, we needed to ally ourselves with Stalin's Russia in order to win, didn't make us bad guys. Just practical. Millions of Russians died so that we could successfully invade on D-Day.

Kevin Leavitt
03-08-2007, 03:37 PM
Also, you have to judge our actions as a whole and the outcome after the war. I think this shows more about intentions than anything else. Look at how we dealt with Japan and Germany after the war. Overall a pretty good successful outcome.

The just war argument is very complicated. If justice or justifiablness were the only criteria, then we would have been engaged in many more (or should have) wars than we have actually fought.

Look at all the wars we ignored because they did not pose a national threat or impact natural resources. It is not always about just, but about what is in it for us.

Certainly JUST is a part of the criteria, but there are obviosuly many more factors.

I understand where George is coming from with I know it when I see it. It really is an honest answer.

I tend to judge things based on harm. Does it cause harm in some way? Each person has his own criteria formed on norms, values, and culture.

Mashu
03-08-2007, 04:54 PM
I must have missed some episodes of Hogan's Heroes.

CitoMaramba
03-08-2007, 06:29 PM
I have long thought of World War II as a battle between Good and Evil (tm)... why else would the generation of Americans who fought in WWII be referred to as "The Greatest Generation"..
and yet.. the personal experiences of my parents and grandparents during that war seem to indicate that the distinction was not always clear-cut...
For example:

My grandfather personally witnessing Japanese soldiers throwing babies in the air and catching them on bayonets..

.. contrasted with the Japanese Imperial Army Captain who brought sweets to my mother (a little girl at the time) because she reminded him of his daughter in Japan...

And the American Tankers who, while their tanks rumbled through the streets of Manila, handed out chocolate bars to the children..

... contrasted with the American Paratroopers who robbed and beat up my grandfather in the last stages of the war...

It isn't always black and white..

CitoMaramba
03-08-2007, 06:45 PM
How about this for a war where the line between Good and Evil is clear..

A colony, fighting for independence from their Foreign Masters, receives help from another Foreign power, ending centuries of rule by their colonial masters...

The Foreign Power that aided them however, reneges on the agreement to grant independence to the colony and engages in a 3 year long war where:

Troops of the Foreign power commit atrocities like torture of prisoners and killing of wounded prisoners..

Concentration camps are set up and people uprooted from their homes and interned

One general of the Foreign power makes it a policy in his command to kill all males 10 years old and above. He also commands "I want you to kill and burn. The more you kill and burn, the better it will please me."

The War in question? The Philippine-American War (1899-1902). The Foreign Power involved? The United States.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine-American_War
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_H._Smith

hapkidoike
03-08-2007, 07:24 PM
I understand where George is coming from with I know it when I see it. It really is an honest answer.


Sounds a lot like a cop out to me. If one does not want to do the work involved I can understand that, but to be dismissive and admit that you cannot or will not define something and at the same time claim that you can identify "it" seems a little bit backwards.

I will stipulate to the argument that the Allied Powers had just cause to go into WW ll, given that the fascists were necessarily the aggressors, but what I am not willing to do is admit that they acted justly in their conduct. At least not without someone giving me a good argument to the contrary. The idea of just conduct is just a crucial to waging a just war as just cause is, and merely satisfying one of the criteria is just not good enough.

Amir Krause
03-09-2007, 04:52 AM
To me "evil" is a word that only belongs in fiction and religious schemes. It's like saying the Nazis or the Japanese were "devils" or "goblins". Unless you are talking in poetic metaphor, it's just silly. They were people, and as such they thought they were making good decisions given the choices they had, just like us. It so happens that we strongly disagree with them, and if they were here now doing the same thing we might well grab some weapons and try to kill them in good conscience. We might have no doubt whatsoever that killing Nazis was the right course of action. That's still a far cry from the imputation of "evil".

"Evil" connotes the idea of people being inherently, willfully sinful, which is basically a mystical idea, or the idea of people doing bad things because they are bad, in full knowledge of how bad they are, which is at best extremely uncommon - depending on your philosophy of human motivation, perhaps even impossible.

I disagree with you on the definition of evil. A person does not have to be evil by his own definition. Otherwise, the definition will not describe any realistic situation.
We can all easily agree on evil actions (rape, intentional and deliberate killing of children/babies/masses of people ...). We would likely also agree that some such actions might have some mitigating circumstances, while other actions might be inexcusable regardless of cricumstances or require extremly unique (up to the non realistic point) situations. Obviously, our view of the mitigating circumstances and their sufficiency to justify an act may differ (depending on personal views, political opinions etc.).
A pesron who repeatedly does evil actions, without sufficient mitigating circumstances is viewed as evil in our eyes.

It seems to me what y'all are trying to say is that it was a case where almost no one we currently consider sane would deem war against Nazis or Japanese circa 40's unjustified. This sounds better than adding the the concept of evil, and turning your statement into nonsense, but it's still unclear whether this is true. It is my understanding that there were many Quakers opposed the war on grounds of pacifist principle and many who still maintain that US participation in the war was wrong. I don't agree, but I have to say that Quakers are probably the most sane Christian sect I can think of.

Mt problem with the above paragraph is simply because the US and allies participation in WWII was driven by their own interests and not by some moral reasoning!
Thus, the Nazis were evil (note, not all Germans were Nazi supporters and some were truelly unaware of the real actions and deluded by propaganda), but the allies fighting against them were not good just because they fought against the evil.

Amir

Michael Varin
03-09-2007, 05:02 AM
The just war argument is very complicated. If justice or justifiablness were the only criteria, then we would have been engaged in many more (or should have) wars than we have actually fought.In your opinion, what is a just war?

Using my criteria: 1) fighting off the threat of domination by another people, 2) throwing off an existing domination, the US has only been involved two just wars, the Revolutionary War and the South's role in the Civil War.

Also, you have to judge our actions as a whole and the outcome after the war. I think this shows more about intentions than anything else. Look at how we dealt with Japan and Germany after the war. Overall a pretty good successful outcome.I don't know. Leaving thousands of troops in their country 60 years after the war? At home we never recovered from WWII. We lost freedom, the central government expanded, inflation, debt, withheld income tax. WWII dealt the final blow to America the constitutional republic.

Obviously, I don't like the idea of the US as an empire. I believe it's contrary to American principles. "Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few." -- James Madison

Michael Varin
03-09-2007, 05:06 AM
why else would the generation of Americans who fought in WWII be referred to as "The Greatest Generation"Hmm . . . maybe . . . Collectivist propaganda.

Michael Varin
03-09-2007, 05:07 AM
I will stipulate to the argument that the Allied Powers had just cause to go into WW ll, given that the fascists were necessarily the aggressorsI don't believe the US needed to be involved in this war, and if I remember correctly the USSR invaded Poland at the same time Germany did. Not to mention that it was clear to many at the end of WWI (another war we should've stayed out of) that the terribly lopsided Treaty of Versailles would lead to another war.

Roman Kremianski
03-09-2007, 08:48 AM
"Evil" connotes the idea of people being inherently, willfully sinful

Call me biased, but to me that basically describes the responsible Nazis and WW2 Japanese. Seeing as many of them didn't do much to question their leaders orders. The reason I said "biased" is because I'm from the former Soviet Union to begin with, and to us, there definitely were "bad guys". Sure Stalin was just as evil of a bloke as Hitler, maybe more, and yeah we did sorta become "those commies" after that even to this day. Being partially Jewish who lost family in concentration camps adds to the mentality as well.

As already George said, I did read some truly disturbing things the Japanese did, especially Japanese doctors. Scary stuff...

Kevin Wilbanks
03-09-2007, 10:29 AM
I disagree with you on the definition of evil. A person does not have to be evil by his own definition. Otherwise, the definition will not describe any realistic situation.
We can all easily agree on evil actions (rape, intentional and deliberate killing of children/babies/masses of people ...). We would likely also agree that some such actions might have some mitigating circumstances, while other actions might be inexcusable regardless of cricumstances or require extremly unique (up to the non realistic point) situations. Obviously, our view of the mitigating circumstances and their sufficiency to justify an act may differ (depending on personal views, political opinions etc.).
A pesron who repeatedly does evil actions, without sufficient mitigating circumstances is viewed as evil in our eyes.


Speaking of definitions, look up the definition of "begging the question".

Obviously, we (humans) cannot agree on what are evil actions, or no one would have ever labelled anyone else "evil" and there never would have been any wars. Designating the other side as "evil" and subhuman is fundamental to waging a war. As soon as they are considered less than human, one becomes able to do those 'evil actions' to them without a problem. This is part of why I say it is time to move beyond this barbaric way of thinking.

Kevin Wilbanks
03-09-2007, 10:35 AM
Call me biased, but to me that basically describes the responsible Nazis and WW2 Japanese. Seeing as many of them didn't do much to question their leaders orders. The reason I said "biased" is because I'm from the former Soviet Union to begin with, and to us, there definitely were "bad guys". Sure Stalin was just as evil of a bloke as Hitler, maybe more, and yeah we did sorta become "those commies" after that even to this day. Being partially Jewish who lost family in concentration camps adds to the mentality as well.

As already George said, I did read some truly disturbing things the Japanese did, especially Japanese doctors. Scary stuff...

You are not only biased, but your bias has led you to a cartoonish, preposterous view of history and human behvaior if you think two whole cultures full of people all thought they were deliberately doing the wrong thing almost all the time for about a decade running. This is precisely the problem with a simple-minded moral scheme like good vs. evil. It severely limits our ability to understand why and how unpleasant things like Nazism happen, which in turn prevents us from recognizing when something similar is happening again.

Guilty Spark
03-09-2007, 03:16 PM
One of my favorite quotes, from the movie KPAX with Kevin Spacy (of all places)

Every being in the universe knows right from wrong, Mark.

Roman Kremianski
03-09-2007, 04:41 PM
if you think two whole cultures full of people all thought they were deliberately doing the wrong thing

What're you suggesting they thought they were doing then?

And I was kidding about the bias bit. Naturally being part of the former USSR will put me on a side. :D

Kevin Wilbanks
03-10-2007, 12:57 AM
What're you suggesting they thought they were doing then?

I submit that everyone thinks they are doing the right thing every time they do something. It's pretty basic. Your body does not perform complex actions unconsciously. You have to decide what to do, then intiate specific neuromotor actions. There has to be a substitution mechanism. On some level, you think everything you do is a good idea, by definition. You may think just the opposite right before and right after doing something, but in order to actually do it, you have to think it is "right" in the most fundamental and meaningful sense - the sense that involves actually acting.

Basically, I think the idea of 'evil', and the related idea of 'sin' are vestigial artifacts of a more primitive stage of human development. They just don't hold up to anything resembling contemporary critical scrutiny. If we continue to use the values and thought patterns of our barbaric distant ancestors unquestioningly, we are likely to remain barbaric.

Neil Mick
03-10-2007, 02:16 AM
On some level, you think everything you do is a good idea, by definition. You may think just the opposite right before and right after doing something, but in order to actually do it, you have to think it is "right" in the most fundamental and meaningful sense - the sense that involves actually acting.

True. Why did the Berliner's simply go about their business, while a Camp was operating just outside the city lines? The defence of "we didn't know," just doesn't cut it...they knew. And yet, they did nothing.

Why? Their sense of good and evil, right and wrong, were interfered with, by massive state propaganda. The Germans were bombarded by it, day and night.

Basically, I think the idea of 'evil', and the related idea of 'sin' are vestigial artifacts of a more primitive stage of human development. They just don't hold up to anything resembling contemporary critical scrutiny.

Sorry, I'll have to disagree with you, there. Your model is too simplistic.

Yes..."Good" and "evil" are components of our psyche's...but there are also cultural elements to the concepts of good and evil, as well (take for example: the notion of "shame." Some cultures, such as the American culture, think negatively of being shamed. Others do not).

Still, I think that any willful deaths involving innocents...children, etc, is considered "evil," across the board. But OTOH, the concept of good varies, even within the individuals of a culture. The very IDEA of "individual," when it arose, separated out what "good" meant.

But, we seem more hardwired, collectively, into envisioning "evil." The early evangelists and paintings of the afterlife are filled with scenes of hell, but very few of paradise...it's harder to imagine.

If we continue to use the values and thought patterns of our barbaric distant ancestors unquestioningly, we are likely to remain barbaric.

I think it's one thing to question whether or not something (or someONE) is truly "evil," or "good."

Quite another, to suggest that this necessary moral decision is some antecedent of "barbaric ancestors."

Kevin Leavitt
03-10-2007, 05:13 AM
Neil wrote:

Why did the Berliner's simply go about their business, while a Camp was operating just outside the city lines? The defence of "we didn't know," just doesn't cut it...they knew. And yet, they did nothing.

Not necessarily did they know, the problem is a little more complex than that. If you go down the road to Dachau, what strikes you about the town is how unassuming the Kaserne blends in. It is a simple wall that is just high enough, you can't see over it. All you know is that their are miitary trucks, neat and orderly going in and out of there all the time. Soldiers in Guard towers, but all looks fine to the towns people.

Also you have to understand, in this case Bayern. Culturally very civic minded, and dutyful, and responsible. They stay in their lane and in their community. So, the Wehrmacht built a Kaserne, what business of mine is it. I am going to go about my business and be a good person and do my job and life my life.

they may not have questioned it, because honestly many may not have known the extent of what was going on. Their lives in the country and subburbs went on as usual.

What country does not have propaganda in time of war? It is reasonable to expect people to believe it given what was going on.

Sure I am sure there were those that knew, and yes it took great courage to stand up to things. We forget that there were many Germans that did not agree with Hitler and the Nazi party. They continued to be subversive and work underground as best they could in such an overwhelmingly opressive system.

In many instances the average American and our intelligence community knew more about what was really going on than the average German citizen in many respects, yet we did nothing for many years. That also doesn't cut it if you are going to apply this criteria of blanket across the board.

One of my co-workers who is a world war II buff showed me a couple of books he picked up at a flea market. A pro Nazi party/Hitler book. I saw over a thousand pictures of Hitler that I had never seen below. All of them showed him as a caring, compassionate, man of the people type leader, out in the country, riding horses, sitting with Children, helping the poor. All very believable.

Remember in 1930/40 Europe, there was not available youtube, Google news, or CNN. Only the local state controlled newspaper, and your like minded neighbors and friends in which you shared information. So how much did the average person really know?

George S. Ledyard
03-10-2007, 09:12 AM
Remember in 1930/40 Europe, there was not available youtube, Google news, or CNN. Only the local state controlled newspaper, and your like minded neighbors and friends in which you shared information. So how much did the average person really know?

There was no one in any urban area in the country which didn't see the Jews disenfranchised, ghettoized, barred from employment, etc. No one didn't see Jews disappearing and their homes and businesses taken over by non-Jews. No one missed seeing the Nazi thugs terrorizing the Jewish community. As to where the Jews went after they disappeared? No one wanted to ask; they were getting rich taking over the property of the folks who suddenly weren't there any more.

As for the folks in the countryside... they saw the trains, they supplied the camps with food and necessities, etc. They knew but didn't want to know. Once again, a camp nearby was good for business.

Did anyone fully realize what was going on? Not many I think. But the fact that something truly evil on an unprecedented scale was taking place was readily evident but people chose to pretend not to see.

This idea that people were all doing what they saw as "good" at the time is not true. People knew what was going on was wrong but they couldn't square that knowledge with their self image as good people from the home of Goethe and Beethoven. They chose to ignore it. That is not the same thing as thinking it was good.

Narcissism: A psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem.

When narcissism crosses a certain line it becomes predatory. A pedophile will assault a small child, a rapist will have his way with an unwilling woman, an individual will choose to steal what he wants simply because he feels he is entitled... We call these people sociopaths.

When it gets to the point at which this self centered gratification contains the actual destruction of other human beings, either because it is in itself part of the pleasure, or simply because it allows the offender to continue on with his mis-doings you start to enter the realm of Evil.

I am sorry, there is simply no way you could persuade me that a Japanese soldier placing hand grenades between the legs of a Chinese woman and blowing her apart for the entertainment of his friends, and doing it repeatedly has anything to do with a perceived rightness. They knew it was wrong but they did it anyway. The wrongness of it was part of the pleasure... Pure and complete power to do anything one wishes without consequence. The indulging of that type of desire is Evil, pure and simple.

When the leaders of a society systematically set out to purposely manipulate the fact that most folks carry that propensity for evil within them, you see true evil on the mass scale. In Rwanda folks who had been neighbors their whole lives killed 800,000 people with machetes, up close and personal. It wasn't in the heat of the moment, it took months to do.

The structures of society exist precisely to restrain narcissism. Selfishness is tolerated, even encouraged, as long as it remains within certain bounds. But when sociopaths hijack the leadership of a nation and institutionalize sociopathic behavior they pave the way for evil on a national or even global scale.

In Buddhist psychology, there is no Good or Evil per se. There are only actions which are mindful and those which are not. Ignorance causes harmful actions.

Ordinarily, I pretty much subscribe to this way of looking at things. But there are times when the actions of men are so horrific, that great harm is not only intentional but it becomes inventive, that I think one can only account for it by positing a force outside ourselves, Evil with the capital "E".

And even if I don't necessarily take it to the point at which I have God and Satan battling things out in the universe, I don't want to lose this sense of what Evil is. I don't wish to look at actions which purposely increase human suffering by magnitudes as merely misguided. When I am confronted by what I know to be Evil I will move to stop it. I would risk my own life to do so. That, to my mind, is what Budo is about.

O-Sensei stated that Budo was about operating in the world with a spirit of loving protection. I pretty much do that. I generally am fond of my fellow human beings. I love babies and animals. I have a great deal of compassion for the suffering of my fellows. But if I encounter someone in the act of increasing that human suffering by abusing his fellows that person will need to watch out. On the larger scale, as a nation, in those rare instances in which we encounter Evil of great depth which also threatens to become broad as well, then I would be willing to send my sons to combat that evil (since I am too old to go myself).

Roman Kremianski
03-10-2007, 05:00 PM
I submit that everyone thinks they are doing the right thing every time they do something. It's pretty basic.

I'm interested in hearing how you'd categorize the countless soldiers who later admitted they knew what they were doing was wrong, but no one dared to protest or disobey orders, for obvious reasons.

I have problems believing a human being from a civilized society (as Germany was quite well off at the start of WW2) would lock frighteningly large amounts of people in ovens and not feel he might be doing something a bit off.

I would have to agree with everything George said. There was no CNN.com to provide people with videos. The true horror of the holocaust wasn't discovered until after the war ended. We were the ones who were occupied unfortunately, not the Americans. So ask the average Ukrainian who the "bad guys" in WW2 were, and you'd get a simple answer. Difference of culture I guess.

Guilty Spark
03-10-2007, 05:45 PM
I'm interested in hearing how you'd categorize the countless soldiers who later admitted they knew what they were doing was wrong, but no one dared to protest or disobey orders, for obvious reasons.

Well said.

Neil Mick
03-10-2007, 06:29 PM
I'm interested in hearing how you'd categorize the countless soldiers who later admitted they knew what they were doing was wrong, but no one dared to protest or disobey orders, for obvious reasons.

I think I can, but it's not "categorizing:" more of an examination of a process. After all, "doing evil," is not relegated to an isolated time, place, people or country. Otherwise good-natured people, even today, are committing acts of evil (cf, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and Extroadinary Rendition). And, they certainly have their "reasons" for doing these things: but to simply examine an individual's motives, without looking at the climate of tolerance of evil (as the military judicial system has done so far, vis a vis Abu Ghraib), is to only see a part of the picture.

I have problems believing a human being from a civilized society (as Germany was quite well off at the start of WW2) would lock frighteningly large amounts of people in ovens and not feel he might be doing something a bit off.

Here's a part of how this process works...

1. A leader or group comes to power in a nation-state and either conjures a "crisis," or blames the woes of the nation on a group of people. The blame-group could, or could not, be slightly well-off, but they do not possess direct access to political power.

2. The leader gains control of the media, and proceeds to pound his message into the captive public, via unrelenting propaganda. An immediate crisis gives the message a further sense of urgency.

3. Laws are passed, sacrificing what civil liberties are left for increased power to a military state.

4. Leaders of military and police either give orders or policies that demonstrate a "gloves-off" policy toward the minority (cf, Rumsfeld, etc).

4. "Detention" centers spring up, and mass arrests are implemented.

5. Over time, the victims of this propaganda are seen as less than human, by the larger population ("Why do they hate us?").

#5 explains how otherwise normal people could tolerate acts of brutality. For a soldier to get to the stage to pull the trigger on an innocent, s/he had to be indoctrinated to a state of narcissism (as George so well pointed out) that s/he no longer sees the target group as human.

Once we get to #5 we see the secret mass-burial grounds that pop up in Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere. The "problem" is taken care of...outside of the eyes of the world, and the Red Cross, in the form of mass executions.

But there's another part of the equation, that no one here is talking about:

#6 The later denial, of genocide

Genocide-deniers are also perpetrators of evil, because the denier of a genocide has killed the victims a second time. In denying that the genocide existed, the denier effaces the life, meaning, and significance of the victims after they're dead.

Look, for instance, at the deniers of the Armenian Genocide, the first Holocaust of the 20th Century. Remember what Hitler said, to his generals? That they could participate in the Israeli Holocaust with impunity, because the Armenian Holocaust was so well effaced from the "official" history, of the recent past. Genocide-denial creates a situation of "crime by omission," allowing for the opportunity to commit another genocide, in the future.

What we fail to learn in the past, we are doomed to repeat, in the future...

Kevin Wilbanks
03-11-2007, 05:37 AM
In my view, most people here have an extremely naive and limited idea of human nature. The kinds of behavior people cite as "evil" sound like fairly normal human behavior to me, historically and anthropologically speaking. Humans have been participating in war, torture, and various kinds of atrocities regularly throughout recorded history. It seems unavoidable to assume that this extends back to whatever point humans became differentiated from whatever pre-human species we evolved from and perhaps further. Our closest genetic cousins, chimps, have been observed doing such things, and our most socially compatible species, canis familiaris, regularly engages in all sorts of callous bullying and brutality, including, literally, baby-killing.

Given my personal history and current values, I find baby-killing, "ethnic cleansing" and probably all the other things that the rest of you call "evil" as distasteful as you do. The difference is that I can easily imagine you, me, or anyone else here participating in such things, perhaps even gleefully. It's what we are - just as much as throwing birthday parties or playing with kittens is. If you don't agree, it's because you are either lucky, sheltered, lacking imagination, or some combination of these. I'm glad I'm lucky and sheltered, but I have no illusions about what I might have been given less of both.

I'm against most of the same things you are against, it's just that I am not under the delusion that my preferences are universal, objectively true or sanctified by gods. The moral schemes you keep invoking as self-evident, or try to argue for using question-begging fallacies, don't seem any more plausible to me than tales of leprauchans, goblins, or a giant bearded man in the sky weilding lightning bolts. All such fantasies are pure make-believe, designed to comfort people who can't come to terms with the fact that they are merely small, subjective entities in a vast, mostly random universe.

Letting go of primitive morality schemes doesn't mean what you think it does. You can still hold the same views about every specific act or event, and still act when you see fit. The difference is that you'll be coming out from behind the skirts of made-up gods, shedding pretentions to objectivity, growing up and taking full responsibility for your own views and actions.

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2007, 05:49 AM
George Wrote:

In Buddhist psychology, there is no Good or Evil per se. There are only actions which are mindful and those which are not. Ignorance causes harmful actions.

Ordinarily, I pretty much subscribe to this way of looking at things. But there are times when the actions of men are so horrific, that great harm is not only intentional but it becomes inventive, that I think one can only account for it by positing a force outside ourselves, Evil with the capital "E

Good points George in above to pretending not to know. I see your points and yes I agree. Certainily on a macro level there was a fair amount of cognitive dissonance going on in German Society.

I do disagree that everyone saw what was going on and actively pretended to not know. I DO think that intuitively that it would be almost impossible not know that something was not right, but did not ask the question WHY, or WHAT is that.

I have seen police officers in the U.S. evicting someone from their house. Appeal to authority would tell you that well "THOSE PEOPLE" , are getting what they deserve obviously because the establishment says so. "who am I" to question the establishment.

Trains traveling through the towns, dorfs, and the like are simply trains...we don't ask what is inside...we don't really want to know. If we asked, we might not like the answer, besides it does not affect me.

I will need to go back and read some of my materials on Tibet and the Chinese Occupation. I believe the buddhist believes you mention above is what caused the tibetans to take the action that they did towards non-resistance.

The Dali Lama, I believe, since then, come out and said that he regrets not taking action or fighting against the Chinese in retrospect.

This is a very, very good discussion of a very complex topic that we all should be aware of. A topic that is very core to the philosophy of aikido and the understanding of human nature, conflict and violence.

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2007, 06:08 AM
George wrote:

I am sorry, there is simply no way you could persuade me that a Japanese soldier placing hand grenades between the legs of a Chinese woman and blowing her apart for the entertainment of his friends, and doing it repeatedly has anything to do with a perceived rightness. They knew it was wrong but they did it anyway. The wrongness of it was part of the pleasure... Pure and complete power to do anything one wishes without consequence. The indulging of that type of desire is Evil, pure and simple.

Yes, the actions of this event cannot be described by anything but evil. I cannot understand what would cause a human being to do something of this nature. I think we do however need to look at what chain of events drove a human do commit these kinds of acts.

There is a karmic chain of events that led to this, unless you have a very rudimentary Calvanistic view of the basis of human nature.

The individual IS responsible for his own actions, I am not so liberalistic that I think that the individual does not have free-will or choice, nor should they NOT be held accountable for his actions. However, I think Kevin W's point is that to label this pure Evil as if the individual or society is somehow DETACHED from GOOD, or the rest of society...is why we will be doomed to repeat this process over and over again.

It is too easy to place things in nice, neat little boxes of good and evil and reward the do gooders, and punish the evil doers.

I do agree with the "I know it when I see it" view point. it is NOT dismissive as one might think. the reason we know it when we see it, is that we have had all kinds of inputs, values, mores, ethics that have taught us right from wrong...that have served as models.

I have studied example after example of attrocities, from Mai Lai massacre, to Abu Grabi, to the even something as simple as what is going on in Walter Reed. In all cases, people, ordinary people failed to say, "This is wrong, I know it when I see it...and THIS is not right."

It is easy to let the group take over, Cognitive Dissonance, getting on "Road to Abilene"

Interesting read...somewhat related to group thought paradox.

http://www.xecu.net/schaller/management/abilene.pdf

Dirk Hanss
03-11-2007, 07:07 AM
There was no one in any urban area in the country which didn't see the Jews disenfranchised, ghettoized, barred from employment, etc. No one didn't see Jews disappearing and their homes and businesses taken over by non-Jews. No one missed seeing the Nazi thugs terrorizing the Jewish community. As to where the Jews went after they disappeared? No one wanted to ask; they were getting rich taking over the property of the folks who suddenly weren't there any more.

As for the folks in the countryside... they saw the trains, they supplied the camps with food and necessities, etc. They knew but didn't want to know. Once again, a camp nearby was good for business.

You are absolutely right, George.
And whatever is coming now, please do not see it as an excuse, not even an explanation and also not to compare one eveil with another one.

It is just about: wefound the evil ones. This includes (nearly) all member of the NSDAP and wide ranges of the German citizens.
One interesting story I recall, a Latin teacher of mine told us. He was member of Rowdy troops for the conservative Christian party. A fellow student of his was a Jewish fan of Adolf Hitler (unbelievable, but I was told so). Then in 1933 he suddenly came and said "We have won! Now I have to get away from here." And he left Germany the very next day. This does not explain anything, but how difficult it is to understand people from a distance.

But my main point about the good ones is to have a look, how other countries acted, while mass murder and torture were done by German and Japanese people.

We already heard about the Russian Army, who occupied the other half of Poland at the same time, when the Germans invaded the Western part. They killed instantaeously, thousands of the Polish leadership, teachers, priests, politicians and army officers. I wonder why nobody wanted to help that part of the Poish people.

In America you could not see mass murder. But how many of those raping a black woman or killing a black neighbour, just for being not respectful were punished?
While the American Government knew about the discrimination in Germany, they often did not allow Jewish refugees to set foot on American land. Right after the Pearl Harbour attac thousands of American citizens were set into camps, just being of Japanese heritage or even just looking like Japanese. Well I don't know how many of former Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese or other not Japanese Asian Americans suffer for just looking like. Interestingly again, why did most of the German Americans kept untouched?

Recently I saw a documentation about Black American soldiers in WWII. In Australia some (not thousands, but dozends, maybe hundreds) were beaten up or even killed, by the Military Police of there own country, they wanted to fight for, just for going out with white Australian girls, by order of American officers and in the public. No one was taken responsible for that. Did the military leaders did really get no notice of these incidents? Just to make sure: there were no complaints from Australian people or the Australian government, although they could not have been seen as tolerant to other races in general.

There could be found many other examples about British, French or other nations' involvement.

Yes, we know the bad guy, and yes the fight had to be foughted (not all of us agree, but I do) and especially we German can be seen lucky for having lost the war - even luckier that the Cold War just starting at the same time of the end of WWII supported us regaining prosperity in both parts of Germany.

But again this all happened during the same 'just war'. So who were the good guys?

Kind regards

Dirk

George S. Ledyard
03-11-2007, 10:28 AM
I am not saying that we were shining examples of goodness and light in those years. We interned our Japanese population and basically stole their property, just like the Germans did to the Jews. But you'll notice that we didn't send them to the ovens. Eventually, they were allowed to serve with distinction in the European theater. The civilians eventually started their lives over again and have ended up with remarkably little prejudice still existing (probably because other groups now occupy that position in our society).

Yes, we were a completely racist society. The military was especially bad with its officer corps drawn heavily from the Southern states. But, once again, it is a matter of degree. We didn't attempt to murder our Black minority wholesale even when we did murder them individually. We eventually allowed Black units into combat and these veterans formed the corps of the early civil rights movement. Their performance in the war was just one more factor moving the society towards needed change.

If you look at our actions militarily, one can certainly find reprehensible events. The fire bombing of Dresden, the second A-bomb, etc Exactly the kinds of evil actions one finds even the good guys doing in a war. As I said before, going to war damages a society on many levels. The doing of these things creates a karma that works out over a long period of time.

But no matter how you cut the cake, we were the good guys in that war. Would you rather have been a Japanese or a German citizen under the Allied occupation or would you have liked to be a Slav under the Germans or a Chinese under the Japanese. I think the answer is crystal clear and it speaks for itself.

Josh Reyer
03-11-2007, 11:24 AM
But no matter how you cut the cake, we were the good guys in that war. Would you rather have been a Japanese or a German citizen under the Allied occupation or would you have liked to be a Slav under the Germans or a Chinese under the Japanese. I think the answer is crystal clear and it speaks for itself.

Reading your post it seems clear to me that rather than "the good guys", we were basically "the lesser of two evils."

Let me ward off the flames right now: I don't actually believe we were "evil", or different from the Nazi's or Japanese Fascists only in degree. As I said before, I think the Nazi leadership were fundamentally, psychologically broken. We were interested mostly in our national self-interest, but at least we weren't broken that far.

But more than that, to be "good", we need a much better standard than "better than the Nazis", because that's setting the bar damn low. In my opinion, "the good guys" don't firebomb Dresden, and most major Japanese cities. They don't drop A-Bombs on civilians (twice!). Good guys don't that; nations engaging in realpolitik do.

Finally, it's easy to point to Nanking as the Japanese army at its worst. It's a terrible shame for the Japanese people, and a disgrace; there are no words to suitably describe its horror. It is also an outlier. It was not SOP for the Japanese army, who oversaw occupations of Shanghai, Taiwan, and Korea that, while certainly hated by the native population, never even came close to the horror of Nanking. Take out Nanking, and Japanese imperialism is quite a good comp for our own westward expansion (Bataan Death March vs. Trail of Tears; we "win"), and our own annexation of Hawai'i and the Phillippines. Or British Imperialism in India, Africa, and China. Not to mention that our vaunted "good guy" forces were hardly atrocity-free in Vietnam. The forces of human nature at work at Nanking in 1937 were the same at work in My Lai in 1968. Much better, I think, to understand why both happened, than to say "They were evil."

Allen Beebe
03-11-2007, 01:35 PM
George Ledyard wrote:

"In Buddhist psychology, there is no Good or Evil per se. There are only actions which are mindful and those which are not. Ignorance causes harmful actions.

Ordinarily, I pretty much subscribe to this way of looking at things. But there are times when the actions of men are so horrific, that great harm is not only intentional but it becomes inventive, that I think one can only account for it by positing a force outside ourselves, Evil with the capital "E"."

That's right George, the self (ourselves) recognized by Buddhist psychology would necessarily affirm forces outside the "self" thereby delineating a "self" separate from "everything else" in the first place. Once this is accomplished the "self" can then engender greed, desire, etc. and/or hatred, fear, aversion depending on whether one defines that which is outside the "self" as desirable or repulsive.

Conveniently for the "self" the law of cause and effect are not relevant due to the "original" separation of forces that engender Good and Evil from one's "self." Therefore one is freed from responsibility to avoid doing Evil and/or aspiring to do Good.

The catch is, . . . despite the seeming advantages of this construct, the "self" seems to suffer within it nonetheless.

As you stated, within Buddhist psychology, we find that "Ignorance causes harmful actions." The question then is, "What is being ignored?" My understanding is that what is being "ignored" is the actual nature of reality. From the perspective of Buddhist psychology all that we experience is dependently arising. We choose to assert forces, entities, causes and effects beyond our "self" willfully ignoring that, "I am the Universe" and all that that implies. And we do this (ironically because it is the very assertion of separateness that is the root of suffering) for reasons of "self" preservation.

From my Buddhist perspective, a question in reference to the subject of this thread can be framed by: Masa Katsu, A Katsu, Katsu Haya bi

What am I doing right now to create happiness and prevent harm?

(Answer: I am getting of line to help my wife with the kids. This will make her happy and keep me from harm! :uch:

Allen Beebe
03-11-2007, 04:08 PM
In other words one often chooses (individually or collectively) to act or not act motivated by a desire for happiness and/or an aversion for suffering. This seems reasonable and harmless enough.

Unfortunately, if one maintains an (ignorant) belief that one is separate from one's motivations, ill conceived actions, and that which suffers from them, one will persist in contributing to an unending cycle of suffering of "self and "other." And all the while, even from generation to generation, one will probably wonder what sort of malevolent force could create, or allow, such suffering to exist . . . and there is often an answer . . . THEY DID! (Whomever they happen to be at the moment.) And so it goes . . .

Chuck Clark
03-11-2007, 04:40 PM
Allen, it's good to see you posting on AikiWeb... Welcome. I look forward to seeing you again next time I'm in Portland.

Dirk Hanss
03-11-2007, 05:42 PM
But no matter how you cut the cake, we were the good guys in that war. Would you rather have been a Japanese or a German citizen under the Allied occupation or would you have liked to be a Slav under the Germans or a Chinese under the Japanese. I think the answer is crystal clear and it speaks for itself.

Dear George,

I did not want to compare or even set as equal.

Yes, the allied forces and especially the American, were the better guys, compared to German and Japanese. And yes, entering the war was a necessary and right decision.

I just still have problems, if the difference between good and evil depends on the number of victims or wether one sees the face of the victim or if one just drops a bomb from some thousand feet height.

But to make it clear: many - or even most of the American soldiers were really good guys, not only in comparison with the worse ones. I could even some good examples for this.

While it is an interesting discussion, I have to step out. It just makes me depressive, even more as all parts of my family were involved, as culprits or victims or even both in the same person.

Personally I'd prefer, I would not have started this.

Many thanks and best regards

Dirk

Kevin Leavitt
03-11-2007, 06:34 PM
Thanks for your participation Dirk. I think your last post shows how far reaching across time and space the affects and impacts of actions of human beings. It also serves to demonstrate that we are all connected to this in some small way.

I think aikido as an art, and the people it attracts is a step in the right direction. We have aikidoka here on this website from all over the world, many from countries or places such as Iraq and Israel and Palestine in which it takes courage and great risk just to train. Many that we cannot safely visit if we want to because of politics, religion, or war.

However, we all here share one thing in common, our study of aikido, and for those brief minutes we can talk here on aikiweb, or get together in places like Training Across borders (TAB), and put all that aside and understand each other a little better, finding that common bond that just might help us realize that we are all in this big world together.

I know it is a dream, but one worth pursuing and holding out hope for.

Yes, their are people that do bad and evil things in the world, and we must stop them. We won't stop them by putting labels on them, or saying "not in my backyard". we will stop them through direct action in someway. It might be violent force or action, or it might be through a simple word such as STOP. We also might stop them through compassion or by doing our small part to alievate suffering or increasing awareness or understanding.

It is a complicated problem.

Thanks for sharing.

Allen Beebe
03-11-2007, 07:31 PM
Hi Chuck,

Thank you for the greeting. It will be nice to see you again.

Allen

Allen Beebe
03-11-2007, 07:32 PM
I had an American student that was given a choice when he came back from studying in France in the 1960's.

"Leavenworth or Vietnam?"

He chose Vietnam. One day after class this individual and another student of mine got into a heated discussion over whether or not one was obligated to follow a bad order. The (lawyer) student argued that one is obligated not to follow unlawful orders but rather obligated to refuse to follow the order and to report the individual giving them. The (veteran) student argued that one would never realistically do this because of prior training and because the law of survival usurped any other laws in the heat of battle. My (lawyer) student was appalled at this response arguing that this thinking is the cause of war crimes, atrocities, etc. My (veteran) student finally broke down and said,

"Look! You are platoon leader and you are pinned down with your only choice being to hold your position and allow all of your men to get picked off or push forward into the enemy even though they have placed villagers, some of whom are women and children that may, or may not, be armed and hostile between you. What do you do?"

This is not the kind of decision that a human should be required to make. However, it was clear that this was not a hypothetical question either. My (veteran) student had made that decision decades ago and his presence in my dojo indicated that he had chosen to preserve the lives of the men in his platoon at the cost of the lives of women, children. It was also clear that, for him, the battle was not over. He constantly battled the physical and psychological repercussions of the decision he had made years before. He clearly couldn't condone the decision he made, nor could he condemn himself for having made it.

I believe that human beings possess the potential for both extreme evil and extreme good. After all we invented the concepts. Most of us exist dynamically within that continuum. Some rare individuals actively seem to pursue and embrace one end of the continuum over the other just as there are individuals that seem to naturally excel at any endeavor. Nevertheless, it seems to me a dangerous thing to assert that one can become something other than human whether one's modus operandi appears demonic or angelic.

Just some rambling thoughts and memories . . .

Michael Varin
03-11-2007, 10:42 PM
On the larger scale, as a nation, in those rare instances in which we encounter Evil of great depth which also threatens to become broad as well, then I would be willing to send my sons to combat that evil (since I am too old to go myself).What if your sons don't want to fight for this reason, or your neighbor doesn't want to send his sons?

You cross a line and become that which you want to stop.

Michael Varin
03-11-2007, 10:44 PM
I'm interested in hearing how you'd categorize the countless soldiers who later admitted they knew what they were doing was wrong, but no one dared to protest or disobey orders, for obvious reasons.

I have problems believing a human being from a civilized society (as Germany was quite well off at the start of WW2) would lock frighteningly large amounts of people in ovens and not feel he might be doing something a bit off.Prior to WWII, Stalin was carrying out acts that were just as horrible on a far greater scale against the people of the USSR. He had their families killed, yet many of the people worshiped him like a god.

See if you can find a book called "Obedience to Authority" or take a look at this site:

http://www.stanleymilgram.com/milgram.php

We all have aggression in us. When an individual uses it to achieve what they want, we call them a criminal, but when it is part of government policy, it is suddenly legitimized. This is the downfall of collectivist thinking.

Michael Varin
03-11-2007, 10:46 PM
1. A leader or group comes to power in a nation-state and either conjures a "crisis," or blames the woes of the nation on a group of people. The blame-group could, or could not, be slightly well-off, but they do not possess direct access to political power.

2. The leader gains control of the media, and proceeds to pound his message into the captive public, via unrelenting propaganda. An immediate crisis gives the message a further sense of urgency.

3. Laws are passed, sacrificing what civil liberties are left for increased power to a military state.

4. Leaders of military and police either give orders or policies that demonstrate a "gloves-off" policy toward the minority (cf, Rumsfeld, etc).

4. "Detention" centers spring up, and mass arrests are implemented.

5. Over time, the victims of this propaganda are seen as less than human, by the larger population ("Why do they hate us?").Old government favorites.

In the Twentieth Century, governments killed somewhere between 175-260 million people compared to maybe 10 million murders by criminals. This is why the founders of our country tried to strictly limit the power of the federal government . . . unfortunately it's not working out so well.

Michael Varin
03-11-2007, 10:57 PM
But my main point about the good ones is to have a look, how other countries acted, while mass murder and torture were done by German and Japanese people.

We already heard about the Russian Army, who occupied the other half of Poland at the same time, when the Germans invaded the Western part. They killed instantaeously, thousands of the Polish leadership, teachers, priests, politicians and army officers. I wonder why nobody wanted to help that part of the Poish people.

In America you could not see mass murder. But how many of those raping a black woman or killing a black neighbour, just for being not respectful were punished?
While the American Government knew about the discrimination in Germany, they often did not allow Jewish refugees to set foot on American land. Right after the Pearl Harbour attac thousands of American citizens were set into camps, just being of Japanese heritage or even just looking like Japanese. Well I don't know how many of former Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese or other not Japanese Asian Americans suffer for just looking like. Interestingly again, why did most of the German Americans kept untouched?Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, and FDR were all cut from the same cloth. Earlier today I watched a show on Discovery Times channel which, as usual, presented FDR in a very favorable light. They openly praised him for his deceitful and unconstitutional behavior. What's wrong with this picture?

Kevin Leavitt
03-12-2007, 12:35 PM
Allen,

Funny you should bring Military Law and lawful and unlawful orders into the mix. It is something I am currently studying as part of Command Staff General College right now.

typically the scenario presented is a common one in which civilian are used as human shields by the enemy.

Military law accounts for such cases. It would be an unlawful order to order a soldier to directly shoot a civilian, however not unlawful if the civilian is killed as collateral damage.

Commander's, NCOs, and Officers must make a decision concerning the risk and or threat involved in such as decision.

In some cases it might be that civilians are killed as a result of them being in the line of fire (through no fault of their own) and it would be legitimate (although unfortunate) if the enemy was using them as a shield to advance their position and it would mean that the lives of the platoon would be lost.

In other cases, the same situation might be deemed a war crime if it can be proven that the enemy was not advancing or posed an overwhelming or immediate threat.

Also there is the case of reasonableness. That is, if you know that a particular target like a building is being used to store weapons or is a high value tactical target, even if there are civilians inside, it may be a viable target.

However, say you are flying an apache and you have an insurgent run into a school. It is NOT reasonable or acceptable to take out the whole school. Why? because the school is Not an acceptable target and it would not be reasonable to kill a bunch of civilians because one insurgent ran into the building.

In NO cases however, is it EVER a lawful order to order a soldier to engage an unarmed civilian or a surrendering or incapcitated combatant. UCMJ is absollutely clear in this area.

In these cases soldiers that rely on the excuse, I did it because I was ordered to, doesn't cut it. They have an obligation to disobey that order period.

We spend a great deal of time teaching soldiers about this today. I cannot speak for Vietnam era, or can I say it does not happen.

However, UCMJ and laws of armed conflict are pretty specific concerning use of force.

It is not always easy to make these decisions and unfortunately in the fog of war, sometimes we make some bad ones. This is why it is important that we train our soldiers in values, ethics, and in scenarios that push them into resolving ethical situations.

It is also why I am a proponent for BUDO like training in the military.

We are learning and getting much bettter at it, but it is an imperfect science for sure!

Allen Beebe
03-12-2007, 02:14 PM
Kevin,

Interesting stuff. Once the classroom work is done do they then have officers practice making reasonable and/or ethical decisions under high stress conditions? That seems like the next logical training step in a perfect world.

Allen

Michael Douglas
03-12-2007, 05:24 PM
Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, and FDR were all cut from the same cloth. ...
Err, I don't like this comment.
I mean, ... Churchill? how so?

Jim ashby
03-13-2007, 04:22 AM
Churchill was an alcoholic manic-depressive. If you want to research this paragon, look up the affair of the "Jolly George" and the gassing and aerial bombardments that he ordered in Africa. Then look at the timings of the breaking of German Luftwaffe codes and the (preventable) firestorm in Coventry.
Then, and only then, tell me he was different from any other politician.

TeppoLeinonen
03-13-2007, 06:18 AM
The case of Coventry isn't quite that clear-cut. The Luftwaffe codes had just been broken, after a whole lot of work. Churchill had to make a decision on whether or not save a SOME (no way they could ahve saved ALL who were lost at Coventry) amount of people NOW on Coventry and have the Luftwaffe realize immediately their codes had been breached, which would have led for them to change the codes, if not whole code system, which would have meant that it'd take that much lojnger again to break the codes again. Or what he did, gamble Coventry to keep Germans unaware that the codes were broken, thus retaining the ability to use radio intelligence to confirm locations of German nightfighter units before bombing flights to Germany which in the end could end the war sooner.

One point to note, Churchill himself weren't sure he had made the right choice, and one point of that can be seen in the bombing (and firestorm) of Dresden. That bombing was 'Operation Coventry'.

Whatever his failings were, he was put into a VERY tough spot with regards to Coventry raid.

George S. Ledyard
03-13-2007, 09:40 AM
What if your sons don't want to fight for this reason, or your neighbor doesn't want to send his sons?

You cross a line and become that which you want to stop.
I am in no way making that choice for anyone else. My sons don't think it's a cause worth fighting for, they don't go. I support that. I would support them resisting a government order to go if they don't believe it is necessary to do so. I would support my neighbor's son doing that as well. If the cause is clear then the support will be there.

The big problem is how the government has the power to manipulate information so that it can create the appearance of necessity. The government lied when we went into Viet Nam and it's lied to get us into Iraq. This makes it very difficult for people to evaluate. I have a number of friends who have been over in Iraq... none of them thinks the reasons given for the war were the real reasons we went in. None of them thinks that the reasons we are staying are the stated reasons. Basically Iraq is one big "racket" as Smedly Butler described war in general. Vast fortunes are changing hands. The folks that run the show are closely connected to the folks that are making these fortunes. as Ike said, "Beware the military-industrial complex."

In being able to make proper moral decisions one must have enough true information to evaluate and enough education that one is capable of doing so. The power elite has increasing control over the broadcast and print media and we, as the richest country in the world, have a constant problem getting enough money for education. These two things go together and are not accidental. Combined, it takes away the ability for the populace to make it decisions about whether to support the government's military adventures based on personal choice.

Allen Beebe
03-13-2007, 07:29 PM
I am in no way making that choice for anyone else. My sons don't think it's a cause worth fighting for, they don't go. I support that. I would support them resisting a government order to go if they don't believe it is necessary to do so. I would support my neighbor's son doing that as well. If the cause is clear then the support will be there.

The big problem is how the government has the power to manipulate information so that it can create the appearance of necessity. The government lied when we went into Viet Nam and it's lied to get us into Iraq. This makes it very difficult for people to evaluate. I have a number of friends who have been over in Iraq... none of them thinks the reasons given for the war were the real reasons we went in. None of them thinks that the reasons we are staying are the stated reasons. Basically Iraq is one big "racket" as Smedly Butler described war in general. Vast fortunes are changing hands. The folks that run the show are closely connected to the folks that are making these fortunes. as Ike said, "Beware the military-industrial complex."

In being able to make proper moral decisions one must have enough true information to evaluate and enough education that one is capable of doing so. The power elite has increasing control over the broadcast and print media and we, as the richest country in the world, have a constant problem getting enough money for education. These two things go together and are not accidental. Combined, it takes away the ability for the populace to make it decisions about whether to support the government's military adventures based on personal choice.

oooooooo what you said!! (You know the NSA is probably listening in on this conversation right now man!! :cool: )

Hey, as a Public School Teacher/Buddhist Priest/Budo Bug/U.S. Citizen I couldn't agree more. Ever think about running for office?

Oh yeah, you enjoy wearing a skirt, being a member of a foreign para military organization and then there are those ex-Red neighbors of yours . . . maybe not . . . please repeat after me: "I am not, nor have I ever been a member of, or associated in any way with, the Axis of Evil."

You have been pumping out the eloquent posts of late, I must say. :o Please keep it up. I enjoy the good reading!!

Allen

Kevin Leavitt
03-14-2007, 01:32 AM
Kevin,

Interesting stuff. Once the classroom work is done do they then have officers practice making reasonable and/or ethical decisions under high stress conditions? That seems like the next logical training step in a perfect world.

Allen

Throughout your career and in your daily practices, leaders are judged by how they react and handle decisions and how they think understress.

The Army has three major training centers in which we train soldiers, I work at one of them. We spend alot of money and integrate alot of things on the battlefield today. Civilivans, allied miitary, coalition partners...you name it...all the same complexities you find in combat.

I used to be part of the OPFOR (opposing forces). for instance I would raid a town and then grab civilians and place them in the windows of the buildings for protection. My main function was to get our BLUFOR ('good guys") to use their tanks and bradley's to engage the buidlings and blow me and them up. Then we'd use the scene for propoganda later on. BLUFOR did not know my objective, and it sometimes seems illogical that the enemy does what it does to them. We then do an After Action Review to show them the mistakes and good things that they did, and actions they can take to improve them.

So yes, we do these things in training all the time these days and we are learning how to do it better everyday!

Kevin Leavitt
03-14-2007, 01:51 AM
I was reading George's post above. It reminds me of what a complicated world we live in!

Being in the military for over 23 years, obviously I have a great deal invested in my chosen career and all that. Ethics and moral decisions are something that I think about daily.

I started following buddhist philosophy about 7 or 8 years ago. It was a struggle at first because it seemed to me that the buddhist philosophy was diametrically opposed to my profession, so how do you resolve this?

Well I will spare you the details right now. but I read alot, and read alot, and read, and thought some more. Dali Lama, Joseph Campbell, many, many more. Robert Thurman.

So I am a vegetarian, I buy organic...shade grown fair trade coffee. We do what we can do as we think is right as responsible, mindful citizens of the world.

On war and all that. It can be complicated. I made a vow, oath as a soldier a while ago. I am personally responsible for my actions and choose individually to be ethical and moral in my personal actions everyday. (BUDO).

Yes, I am a part of the BIG war and polictical machine. I am a tool of the United States. I made that decision years ago.

Those of you that are a part of our Country (the U.S.), get to decide how on a Macroscopic view...how to use that tool or not.

I gave up the right and choice as a soldier to make that decision and I am in service to our country to hopefully make the right decisions.

So, I have no issue with someone that makes a choice not to support Iraq. I personally have never been asked to do anything that is illegal or immoral in my career. So, I do my part to be the best soldier and set the best example I can, hopefully others will follow.

It really goes back to the whole issue, for me, that we are all in this world together, and we are all attached by the same thread.

Civilians have the right to voice their opinion, to be subversive, to say we need to get rid of our government, and out of Iraq. If they feel strongly enough about it, then it will happen.

However, have we done everything that we could have in the last 50 years to have prevented the wheels from going there in the first place?

It is a Karmic thing to me. Much bigger than anyone person.

Why are we not willing to raise gas taxes to where we are paying the same amount for gas that the rest of the world pays?

Why do we not see the same level of sacrifice on resources that we saw in World War II today?

Why are we just now starting to see a push toward environmentally friendly transportation when the technology has been around for years?

The answers are usually NIMBY (not in my backyard), or it's not ME it's THEM. I am not a SOLDIER I am a CIVILIAN.

It's the Republicans..they are EVIL. Those Damn Democrats are keeping us from doing GOOD.

devisive. Human nature always sees us as separate from the problems that everyone else is causing. We detach ourselves from it.

Me personally....I have never had an issue climbing into the foxhole with Private Joe Smith from Des Moines, Iowa and saying...it kinda sucks here doesn't it? 'so where you from? hows the wife and kids back home?" To me, it is about the people that I work with everyday, and the belief and experiences that they are just like me, and simply want a better life and a peaceful world for their kids.

So, I serve with pride and honor. and at the same time, I respect the fact and pride myself on the fact that we have a country and a time in history that allows people in our country to have opinions, choices, and freedoms to choose what they think it right.

I hope we as a society choose to make the right ones!