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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Krauts Want To Send Knut To Auschwitz!

Brain... overloading... with cuteness...

Can you believe that there are people out there who want this cub "put down?"

He's not alone. Wolfram Graf-Rudolf, director of the Aachen Zoo, told the newspaper, "I don't consider it appropriate for the species that the little polar bear is being raised on a bottle." The animal will be fixated on his keeper and not be a "real" polar bear, he says. However he feels it is now too late to put Knut out of his supposed misery. "The mistake has been made. One should have had the courage to put him to sleep much earlier."

Once again, Rousseau and the mavens of "authenticity" strike again. Knut is not a "real" polar bear. He is an offense to the natural order of things! Away with him to the camps!

Ok, it is important in this discussion to remember that we are talking about a polar bear, not a human being. Kid Various just wants to make that clear. And even if this polar bear is really, really, really cute – Knut’s fate is not to be compared human victims of the Romantic tradition. Also, contra Al Gore, polar bears are not endangered and even if Knut were to be put down, it would be no big loss to the earth. Even if he is really, really, really cute!

But Kid Various was really struck by that “he is not a real polar bear” statement. Because it crystallized so perfectly how the modern eco-movement is tied to the Romantic philosophical tradition, and thus is a distant relative of all totalitarian, mass murdering movements such as Nazism/Fascism which, above all, revered its attachment to “blood and soil.

"We recognize that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger. That is the fundamental point of the biological tasks of our age. Humankind alone is no longer the focus of thought, but rather life as a whole . . . This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought."1

One of the basic philosophical components of Romanticism is the concept of Essentialism, that is, that all things have an essential nature. And the Romantics have always been held in thrall to that “natural” essence. The movement away from what the Romantics consider to be the “natural” state of man is, very much, a corruption of that state, not an improvement (this differs from pragmatism.) This goes back all the way to the (totalitarian) philosopher Plato, who posited that everything that existed was a corrupt version of an ideal “form” that existed outside time and space. But the Romantic tradition really gets going under Rousseau – and unfortunately, gets married to the 19th & 20th centuries’ increasingly efficient killing machines.

Rousseau was the one who posited the concept of the “noble savage” who exists at the beginning of time and is corrupted by civilization. Rousseau reveres the essential nature of that first man and considers all civilization, indeed the force of reason itself, to be a giant step backward in human development. This makes him the godfather of modern environment (and at the extremes, anti-civilization) movements.

Rousseau also very much is the progenitor of the modern self esteem movement, because his concepts regarding Essentialism make it extremely important that one be true to one’s own inner nature. It is profoundly important that the individual be hyper-egoistic, because only by following one’s own feelings can one escape the corruption of civilization (known in modern times as “The Man.”)

For the Nazis, the Jews (and gypsies and Slavs) didn’t represent the “true” spirit of the “Volk” which they revered. They were the corruption of the Volk ideal, and thus merited death. This was seen by the ideologues, not as mass murder, but literally as cleansing.

Likewise, Knut similarly merits death because he violates the demands of Essentialism. He is a bastardization of the ideal form of “polar bear.” His existence is a violation of what it means to be an “authentic” polar bear and thus he is expendable. Even if he is really, really, really cute.

Now, of course, most Germans are not calling for the extermination of Knut. That viewpoint exists only at the extremes of the eco-movement. But, the fact that anyone would see it as a net positive to kill this bundle of fluffy cuteness just demonstrates how, as descendents of the Romantic tradition, both the modern eco-movement and Fascism are, if not directly attached, somewhere along the same continuum. And it highlights just how dangerous this thinking is, if allowed to go on unchecked.

Because if you are going to kill this:

Then what the hell else are you capable of in the quest for purity of essence?

1 Excerpted in an interesting essay about the "Green Wing" of the Nazi party.



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