Friday, October 08, 2004

the glue factories of human connection

From a review of Enzo Traverso's The Origins of Nazi Violence by Shelley Baranowski:

Traverso opens by zeroing in on the products of the French and Industrial Revolutions, the guillotine, the prison, and the factory, including the abattoir. The guillotine serialized killing, transformed the executioner into a bureaucratic employee relieved of ethical responsibility, and de-sanctified capital punishment. While embodying the Enlightenment's hope of redemption, the prison, organized according to military standards, subjected prisoners to rigid discipline and constant surveillance, and transformed them into captive labor. Although factories, unlike prisons, employed free workers, they too adopted disciplinary and hierarchical practices, serializing and segmenting production, while alienating and dehumanizing workers. The abattoir, the methodical, mass-produced death factory for animals, became a cultural reference point for the systematic destruction of human beings.

....The death camps of the Third Reich embraced the worst aspects of factories, abattoirs, and prisons, combining purposeless and humiliating work, assembly-line murder, and the evaporation of morality, the glue of human connection.

From Is it O.K. to be a Luddite? by Thomas Pynchon:
By 1945, the factory system -- which, more than any piece of machinery, was the real and major result of the Industrial Revolution -- had been extended to include the Manhattan Project, the German long-range rocket program and the death camps, such as Auschwitz. It has taken no major gift of prophecy to see how these three curves of development might plausibly converge, and before too long. Since Hiroshima, we have watched nuclear weapons multiply out of control, and delivery systems acquire, for global purposes, unlimited range and accuracy. An unblinking acceptance of a holocaust running to seven- and eight-figure body counts has become -- among those who, particularly since 1980, have been guiding our military policies -- conventional wisdom.