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JASPERS AND TRUMP

February 13, 2019

JASPERS AND TRUMP

Approximately one third of Americans polled blindly follow Trump irrespective of his lying, his policy-less administration, his mindless fantasies, visionless future, wannabe dictatorship and childish demeanor, and are thus participating in a history of wrongdoing which they will someday have to explain or (as in Russia and China) cover up. Today’s events are tomorrow’s history and they will in the future (if we have one) have to explain their participation in  this Trump era and its evils to their progeny.

An interesting article for comparison in this connection is in the magazine Foreign Affairs, January-February 2018 edition, which lays out the German experience after WW II in facing up to the crimes of the Nazis. The article treats how Karl Jaspers, a philosopher and psychoanalyst, gave a series of lectures in 1945 at the University of Heidelberg which provided a framework for expiation of German guilt for the unspeakable crimes of the Nazis, lectures that were later collected in a book entitled The Question of German Guilt.

Paraphrasing freely from this article, Jaspers pointed out that even though what happened under Adolf Hitler precipitated something like a transmutation of our being, Germans were still “collectively liable.” All of those “who knew or could know”– including those “conveniently closing their eyes to events or permitting themselves to be intoxicated, seduced, or bought with personal advantage, or obeying from fear”- shared responsibility. The “eagerness to obey” and the “unconditionality of blind nationality” constituted “moral guilt.”

Jaspers noted that human beings are responsible “for every delusion to which we succumb,” and put his faith in healing “through the cultivation of truth” and “making amends.” In his view only through historical awareness could Germans ever come to terms with their past and restore themselves to a semblance of moral and societal health.

So how many of Trump’s sycophants today are “cultivating truth” and “making amends” by furthering Trump’s dictatorial plans in the destruction of our democracy? How many will in the future (if we have one) be able to explain how they furthered a fascist’s destruction of our democracy to their children and their children’s children, and how they “conveniently closed their eyes to events and permitted themselves to be intoxicated, seduced, or bought with personal advantage, or obeying from fear,” as postwar Germans were required to do in trying to explain Hitler, Himmler, Nazism, concentration camps and gas chambers to their children and their children’s children?

What, other than a wanton ignorance of history of how democracy has been proven superior to the failed politics of communism and fascism and all within living memory, is their problem?       GERALD         E

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