Tag Archives: Human Rights

Mark Collins – “The fall of Aleppo shows us exactly what we have become”

Terrible Terry Glavin roars his rage; amongst other things he excoriates feckless and irrelevant Canadian word-mongering at the UN General Assembly–an excerpt:

The truth of it is we’d just rather not take the trouble [see end of post]. We aren’t prepared to suffer the sacrifices demanded of the commitments to universal rights we profess, so we absolve ourselves by talking about “the Muslim world” as though it were a distant planet. We talk about Arabs as though they were a different species. It’s easier on the conscience that way.

Between the drooling bigotries of the isolationist Right and the clever platitudes of the “anti-imperialist” Left, the only place left to address the solemn obligations we owe one another as human beings is in negotiations over the codicils of international trade agreements, or in the rituals of deliberately unenforceable resolutions entertained by the United Nations General Assembly.

Just last Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and his diplomats conducted just such a ceremony in sponsoring a non-binding General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities in Syria, humanitarian aid access throughout the country, and an end to the siege of Aleppo. It passed, 122 to 13. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic coup [and heralded by our government–wowsers: “UN General Assembly calls for action on Syria in Canada-led resolution”].

Canadian Ambassador to the UN Marc-André Blanchard was pleased to claim that the resolution was already having an effect even before it was voted on, because the day before, Russia announced it was temporarily halting its bombing of Aleppo and had even offered to open corridors to allow civilians to flee. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic triumph.

The UN human rights office later announced that it had received credible reports that hundreds of men who crossed into Aleppo’s regime-controlled districts had gone missing…

Whilst Aleppo was falling our government issued this clarion call; one is sure it had Assad and Putin furiously reconsidering their course. Why do we bother with this worthless verbiage?

Canada demands that Assad regime and backers stop violence now and respect human rights in Syria

And if they don’t? Bah and humbug.

The start of a post from April:

The West and the Middle East: No Guts

I wrote earlier:

What to Do About the Bloody Middle East?

Poor bloody locals. If the West is truly willing to sort things out right now, are we then willing to rule–one way or another–for some decades or so to try to ensure things work out wellish? Triple double HAH! Given no willingness for, or today in the West intellectual acceptance of, such a prospect, then let us just face things honestly…

We don’t. Thank goodness we have Mr Glavin.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Sublime Erdogan the Magnificent vs the Kurds (plus ISIS/Syria)

This murderous terrorism,

Istanbul bombing: Terror attack death toll rises to 38 including 30 police as officials accuse PKK
PKK blamed for attack which is the latest in an escalating scale of violence in the country

will only make this worse–at the NY Times:

As Turkey Cracks Down, Kurdish Mayors Pack Bags for Jail

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — When Kurdish officials here in Diyarbakir, the biggest Kurdish city in the world, say they’ve been “unavoidably detained,” it is not just an excuse for lateness.

Even before I arrived, the co-mayors, Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, were jailed on terrorism charges that rights groups say are trumped up. Interviews in prison are not possible because, officially, foreign journalists are barred from the city.

Ahmet Turk, 74, a Kurd despite his name and the venerable mayor of another Kurdish city, Mardin, was out of jail at the moment. But his press officer, Enver Ete, said that it would be hard to arrange an interview: “We can’t give a time since so many people are getting arrested we can’t foresee what will happen.”

Kamuran Yuksek, a Kurdish politician, was on the phone with a reporter when he was detained briefly — just after being released from five months in prison.

I could not see Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or H.D.P., the country’s third-largest, although he lives in Diyarbakir. He, too, was jailed, along with nine other H.D.P. members of Parliament, so I arranged to see his wife, Basak, instead.

She canceled, not because she was jailed, but perhaps because she worried she would be, and she had two small children at home.

Turkey’s crackdown on Kurdish politicians, officials, news outlets, schools, municipalities, think tanks and even charities has been so thoroughgoing that it has left those who remain free expecting arrest at any moment. “My bag is packed for prison,” said Feleknas Uca, an H.D.P. member of Parliament. “Everybody has a bag in their house for prison. Now, everyone can be arrested at any moment.”

The crackdown on Kurds is part of a broader assault by the government on Turkey’s democratic freedoms after a failed coup in July, even though hard-line Islamists, followers of the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who are rabidly anti-Kurdish and hardly democratic paragons themselves, are accused of the overthrow attempt…

The crackdown on democracy has been nationwide, but on the political front it has been concentrated in the mostly Kurdish southeast, though there is no evidence, or even a government accusation, that Kurdish parties, legal or illegal, had any role in the attempted coup.

But a peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., broke down last year, and since then fighting has claimed 2,393 lives on all sides, including civilians, according to a tally by the International Crisis Group.

Mr. Erdogan’s government had been stunned in 2015 elections when the H.D.P. decimated the ruling Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., in the east especially, winning six million votes, sending 80 candidates to Parliament, and becoming overnight a nationwide political force and the third-largest party. Critics accused Mr. Erdogan of deliberately rekindling violence in Kurdish areas to stir nationalist passions and reverse his flagging fortunes.

Since the coup attempt, the government has focused on jailing officials of the H.D.P. and its local sister parties, arresting at least 45 mayors of Kurdish towns beginning in late October. New arrests are coming practically every day. This year, 2,700 local Kurdish politicians affiliated with the H.D.P. have been jailed…

Kurds have borne the brunt of the crackdown, not just in politics but also in the news media and other areas. The publications and media organizations ordered closed by the government included nearly every Kurdish outlet, except for the government’s Kurdish television channel. Some Kurdish publications have begun publishing under other names…

Meanwhile the Kurdish complication vs ISIS in Syria:

U.S. to Send 200 More Troops to Syria in ISIS Fight

The military advance is complicated by the predominant role played by Kurdish militia members, who make up a majority of the 45,000 fighters and are the most effective American partner against the Islamic State in Syria. But the Kurdish militia fighters are viewed by Turkey — a pivotal American ally — as a terrorist threat.

Turkey regards the Syrian Kurdish fighters, known collectively as the Y.P.G., as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the Kurdish rebel group that has sought autonomy from Turkey since the 1980s. Ankara has demanded that the Y.P.G. not take part in the fight to retake Raqqa.

Turkish forces in recent months have swept across the border into Syria to attack Islamic State strongholds, an offensive the Pentagon has applauded [e.g. recently: “Turkish Troops, Syrian Rebels Attack Key Town Held by Islamic State”]. But the Turkish advance has also served to blunt the Kurdish fighters’ efforts to carve out a contiguous swath of territory inside Syria stretching to the Iraqi border.

As Turkish and Kurdish forces repeatedly clashed, American officials and commanders intervened to curtail the fighting. Washington desperately needs the two sides to focus on fighting the Islamic State in Raqqa, not each other.

To that end, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has met twice in the last month with his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, to consult on battle plans for Raqqa. American Special Operations troops were assigned to accompany Turkish troops in Syria, giving the Pentagon on-the-ground liaisons.

In another unusual move, Brig. Gen. Jon K. Mott of the Air Force, a senior operations officer from the Pentagon’s Central Command, was recently dispatched to the Turkish Army’s operations center in Ankara to help coordinate the war effort and defuse any conflicts with the Kurds.

Pentagon officials are also toning down their vocal support for Kurdish fighters to avoid further inflaming Turkish domestic political sensitivities about any collaboration between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters…

Where it will all end knows only…Earlier (Operation Euphrates Shield— this from August):

Sublime Erdogan the Magnficent Pushing his Syria/Iraq Turkish Delight

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – PM Trudeau’s Envoi to Fidelissimo…and Twitter Reactions

Former British ambassador Charles Crawford writes a nice piece:

So, Farewell Then Fidel Castro

While basking on the sunny South Carolina beaches I took time out to write a piece for National Interest on the death of Fidel Castro and how different world leaders drafted their respective statements:

The Castro case is unusually tricky. There’s no denying that he was a person of international significance, whose opinions and policies offered inspiration to global “progressive” tendencies. Likewise there’s no denying that he was among the most incompetent, brutish leaders in world history: his success in impoverishing and oppressing Cubans for all those long decades is quite astonishing. So how to come up with a few words that do justice to this, ahem, rather ambiguous record? What’s the right tone?

It turns out that it is impossible to issue a statement about Castro that does justice to both the successes and failures of his life without sounding ridiculous. How to be gracious about a plucky monster, a defiant disaster, an inspirational murderer? And what about the countless victims of Castro and Castroism? Do they get mentioned?

With examples:

… Top EU official Jean-Claude Juncker (European Commission) is worse:

The world (sic) has lost a man who was a hero for many. He changed the course of his country and his influence reached far beyond … His legacy will be judged by history.

Note the prominence of “a hero for many.” Not even a teensy hint that most of what Castro did was utterly at odds with EU values?

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau of course won the coveted Most Stupid Statement By Someone Who (Maybe) Should Have Known Better Award:

Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people (sic) for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation … A controversial figure … My father was very proud to call him a friend … the loss of this remarkable leader

This bafflingly awful statement has prompted a Twitterstorm of #trudeaueulogies derision:

– We mourn the death of Vlad the Impaler, who spearheaded initiatives which touched the hearts of millions
– A quiet loner with a quick wit, Osama Bin Laden inspired tremendous advances in air transportation security methodologies
– Mr Stalin’s greatest achievement was his eradication of obesity in Ukraine through innovative agricultural reforms

Conclusion?

Fidel Castro ended up like the mouldering corpse of Lenin in Red Square: a bizarre shrine to dishonesty, cruelty and subjugation. Fidel Castro became an obscure trinket in a bad video game that dim sly leftists click on to get new life in their endless struggle against … what exactly?..

One might well arsk.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – A Great Book From a Romanian Jew, Mihail Sebastian: “Journal 1935–1944: The Fascist Years”

Further to this post,

What’s an Intellectual Romanian Jew to do Before WW II?

I am finishing his journal:

It is an accumulation of events, thoughts and emotions that is one of the most powerful books I have read. I would add that his amateur appreciation of military developments is quite acute (it would appear that Romanians had access to quite a variety of information from non-Axis sources).

More here on Mihail Sebastian from a Romanian. He survived the war and then “Mihail Sebastian was killed by a truck as he crossed a busy Bucharest street in May 1945…”

The fate of Jews in Romania during the war depended critically on where they lived; many of those in the old Regat survived but still were subject to harsh persecution:


Romania, as Germany’s ally, joined the war against the Soviet Union. The country’s declared reason for doing so was to recover the territories of Bucovina and Bessarabia. Individual Jews’ fates in Romania critically depended on the region in which they lived at the beginning of the war. In Antonescu’s plan for “cleaning up the land,” the Jewish population of Bessarabia and Bucovina was considered hostile and was destined for “elimination.” Intense antisemitic propaganda was spread especially within the army, but also at all levels of the state hierarchy. This particular population, and by extension all Jews, was depicted as the embodiment of the “Bolshevik threat.”

Under Antonescu’s rule, Jews were subjected to discriminatory regulations, but there were quite a few fluctuations in their status, depending on the war front situation and on the political interests of the regime. Jewish real estate was nationalized on 28 March 1941, except for a few categories (exemptions included decorated Jewish war veterans; war orphans who had been baptized as Christians 20 years earlier; Jews married to Romanian nationals; Jews baptized as Christians at least 30 years before). Jewish men aged 18 to 50 had to perform forced labor.

One week after the beginning of the war, on 29–30 June 1941, the Jewish community of Iaşi was the victim of a pogrom in which more than 14,000 Jews were killed in massacres supervised by the army and the local police, with the support of Nazi troops. With the German–Romanian invasion, on Antonescu’s order 45,000–60,000 Jews in Bessarabia and Bucovina were massacred. The remaining 157,079 Jews were deported to Transnistria: 91,845 from Bucovina, 55,867 from Bessarabia, and 9,367 from Dorohoi. Between 105,000 and 120,000 of the deported Romanian Jews died. More than 21,000 Jews from southern Bucovina (the counties of Dorohoi, Câmpulung Moldovenesc, Suceava, and Rădăuți), which was still a part of the Old Kingdom, were also deported before 1942.

From the very beginning of the war, in Bucharest, community leaders (namely Filderman, leader of the Federal Union of Jewish Communities [FUCE]; with the assistance of Alexandru Şafran, the chief rabbi), succeeded in organizing an institutional network to provide religious services, education, and social support. In December 1941, FUCE was dissolved and replaced by the Jewish Central, following the model of the Judenrat. Remaining the true leader of the community, Filderman led the fight against resuming deportations and other anti-Jewish measures. In some communities, permission was granted to set up schools for Jewish children who had been excluded from the Romanian education system. Ways were found to send aid, financed substantially by international Jewish organizations, to Jews who had been deported to Transnistria.

In the summer of 1942, Jews in the Old Kingdom [the Regat] confronted the most critical times, as Romania accepted the Nazi plan to deport all Jews living in Romania to the Bełżec extermination camp. However, by November 1942 it became clear that the Romanian authorities were deferring the enforcement of this action and eventually gave it up completely [emphasis added]. They did so as a result of pressure from the Allied forces, but also because of internal opposition mobilized especially by Filderman. Policies concerning Jews began to change in October 1942, and the deportations finally ended in March–April 1943. Approximately 340,000 Romanian Jews survived. Partial repatriation began in the second half of December 1943. On 20 December, the 6,053 inhabitants of Dorohoi who had survived deportation were sent back to their hometown. On 6 March 1944, a total of 1,846 of the more than 5,000 orphans were repatriated.

Approximately 135,000 Jews living under Hungarian rule in northern Transylvania were murdered after deportation to Auschwitz, beginning in the spring of 1944. The territory of Romania, thanks to the change in attitude of authorities toward Jews, became a refuge for those who succeeded in crossing the border from Hungary…

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Hong Kong’s Growing Chicom Heebie Jeebies, Part 2

Further to this post (“Disappeared people pop up on the mainland and say the darnedest things…’), the Dragon gets ever more intrusive–oppressive?

Beijing Tightens Its Grip in Hong Kong Again

Two months after tumultuous legislative elections, and two years after the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement paralyzed the city center, Hong Kong is in the throes of another great political crisis.

Last Monday [November 7], the Chinese government intervened in the territory’s political affairs in an unprecedented way. Brazenly exploiting a technicality, and to the extreme, it barred two young legislators-elect who advocate for greater freedoms for Hong Kong from taking their seats.

The night before, demonstrators had briefly turned the cramped area around Beijing’s Central Liaison Office in Hong Kong into a battleground reminiscent of the worst of the 2014 protests, replete with police batons and tear gas. They had anticipated the bomb that was about to go off: By interfering in a case against two lawmakers brought by the Hong Kong government before a local court, Beijing demonstrated with one single gesture that it was ready to quash any electoral outcomes in Hong Kong that displeased it, to subordinate Hong Kong’s legislature to its executive branch and to subdue its judiciary, which has a reputation for independent-mindedness.

Hong Kong voters breached a floodgate in September with the election for the local legislature, known as LegCo, and now Beijing wants to close it at all costs. A group of young candidates with separatist leanings won half a dozen seats in LegCo, having campaigned on platforms that went well beyond what protesters in the Umbrella Movement ever demanded — from rewriting the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution since 1997, in order to cement Hong Kong’s autonomy, to self-determination or even outright secession from China. Last week, the empire struck back [read on]…

But can our government resist the lure of the lucre, especially with Donald Trump elected, the TPP dead and NAFTA apparently in the balance:

Chinese business leaders laud ‘golden era’ for Canadian relations

Canada, China at dawn of golden decade [at Chicom mouthpiece, Global Times]
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Oh, that cuddly panda.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Spookery Today, Especially SIGINT and Cyber Stuff

The Economist focuses almost solely on the US and UK amongst Western countries (several graphics):

Special report: Espionage

Espionage

Shaken and stirred

Technology

Tinker, tailor, hacker, spy

Governance

Standard operating procedure

Edward Snowden

You’re US government property

China and Russia
[a few other countries mentioned]

Happenstance and enemy action

How to do better

The solace of the law

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – The Jews, the Holocaust and Poland, Then and Now (and much more)

First a tweet,

plus a post last year:

Jedwabne: A Murderous July 1941 Polish Pogrom–and God?

Then an article at the NY Times Magazine on Poland today more broadly:

The Party That Wants to Make Poland Great Again
In just a year, Law and Justice has shown how a far-right nationalist government in Europe really governs — and how far it can push the limits of democracy.

What liberal “end of history“? And very relevant to the holocaust:

Endlösung

Jews, Twentieth Century Pius Popes and Mussolini

What’s an Intellectual Romanian Jew to do Before WW II?

Boden wenn nicht Blut: Horrible Heidegger, Nazism and Now

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – MI5 Chief Highlights Big Bear Spooky and Cyber Threats, Jihadis

Further to this post,

The Lions’s Cyber Roar: UK Getting Really Serious, Unlike Canada

the head of Britain’s domestic intelligence service gives an unprecedented interview:

MI5 head: ‘increasingly aggressive’ Russia a growing threat to UK
Exclusive: In first newspaper interview given by a serving spy chief, Andrew Parker talks of terror, espionage and balance between secrecy and privacy

Russia poses an increasing threat to the stability of the UK and is using all the sophisticated tools at its disposal to achieve its aims, the director general of MI5 has told the Guardian.

In the first newspaper interview given by an incumbent MI5 chief in the service’s 107-year history, Andrew Parker said that at a time when much of the focus was on Islamic extremism, covert action from other countries was a growing danger. Most prominent was Russia.

“It is using its whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad in increasingly aggressive ways – involving propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber-attacks. Russia is at work across Europe and in the UK today. It is MI5’s job to get in the way of that.”

Parker said Russia still had plenty of intelligence officers on the ground in the UK, but what was different now from the days of the cold war was the advent of cyberwarfare. Russian targets include military secrets, industrial projects, economic information and government and foreign policy.

The spy chief also:

– Said that 12 jihadi terror plots had been foiled by the security services in the past three years.
– Identified the size of the homegrown problem: there are about 3,000 “violent Islamic extremists in the UK, mostly British”.
– Said that budget increases would see MI5 expand from 4,000 to 5,000 officers [emphasis added–so total personnel considerably greater?] over the next five years [by comparison the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has a total strength of some 3,300)].
– Rejected criticism that the investigatory powers bill, due before parliament this week, was going too far in enabling intrusive surveillance, arguing that it correctly balances privacy and security…

Parker said the Islamic extremist threat was also enduring and generational. He broke it down into three segments: a large homegrown problem of potentially violent extremists in the UK – most of them British – about 3,000 in number; members of Daesh (Islamic State) in the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq trying to incite terror plots against the UK; and Daesh trying to spread its “toxic ideology” and promote terrorism online.

Critics of the controversial investigatory powers bill, which went before the House of Lords on Monday, say it will offer the security services access to personal data, bringing a reality to bulk surveillance. Parker said the data was necessary in the fight against terror and he thought the government had reached the right balance between privacy and security [see “UK Security Services’ Successful Bulk Data Collection; Need More Powers (Canada?)” plus “Under PM’s Thumb: Proposed Canadian Parliamentary Security/Intel Review Committee“]…

Whilst on the foreign intelligence front:

MI6: UK HUMINT Spooks Going Cyber, Including Social Media

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – China: Top Dragon Really Unfolding His Ascendant Wings

Further to these posts,

Top Dragon is now C-in-C

Top Dragon Now More Powerful than Mao?

President Xi continues his relentless consolidation of power (is our prime minister paying any attention?): two stories:

1) NY Times:

China’s Antigraft Enforcers Take On a New Role: Policing Loyalty

xi.jpg
President Xi Jinping of China at the Great Hall of the People in September. The Communist Party’s anticorruption commission has assumed a growing role as political inquisitor, investigating the commitment of cadres to Mr. Xi and his agenda. Credit Jason Lee/Reuters

The investigators descend on government agencies and corporate boardrooms. They interrogate powerful officials and frequently rebuke them for lacking zeal. Most of all, they demand unflinching loyalty to President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party.

They are the inspectors from the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and the humbling displays they have orchestrated recently in many of China’s most influential government agencies and largest corporations are the most prominent sign of their expanding authority…

2) Washington Post:

China’s plan to organize its society relies on ‘big data’ to rate everyone

BEHIND THE FIREWALL: How China tamed the Internet |This is part of a series examining the impact of China’s Great Firewall, a mechanism of Internet censorship and surveillance that affects nearly 700 million users.

Imagine a world where an authoritarian government monitors everything you do, amasses huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and awards you a single score that measures how “trustworthy” you are.

In this world, anything from defaulting on a loan to criticizing the ruling party, from running a red light to failing to care for your parents properly, could cause you to lose points.

And in this world, your score becomes the ultimate truth of who you are — determining whether you can borrow money, get your children into the best schools or travel abroad; whether you get a room in a fancy hotel, a seat in a top restaurant — or even just get a date.

This is not the dystopian superstate of Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report,” in which all-knowing police stop crime before it happens. But it could be China by 2020…

Sweet authoritarian–totalitarian?–dreams. On the other hand:

Xi’s China: Grumbling (and Rumbling?) in the PLA

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Boden wenn nicht Blut: Horrible Heidegger, Nazism and Now

Martin Heidegger (more here) truly was a nasty piece of work–with nasty foretastes for today? At the London Review of Books:

Great Again
Malcolm Bull

Ponderings II-VI: Black Notebooks, 1931-38 by Martin Heidegger, translated by Richard Rojcewicz
Indiana, 388 pp, £50.00, June, ISBN 978 0 253 02067 3 [see here]

…the truly shocking question posed by the Black Notebooks is not: was Heidegger a Nazi? Or: was Heidegger an anti-Semite? But: would Germany’s greatest 20th-century philosopher have endorsed Donald Trump?

The first two questions have, after all, already been answered satisfactorily. Heidegger joined the Nazi Party in 1933, at a time when few other German philosophers had done so, and as rector of the University of Freiburg in 1933-34 actively sought to align the institution with the goals of the new National Socialist government. His initial enthusiasm waned, but he remained a party member until 1945 and after the Second World War was judged to be a Nazi sympathiser and banned from teaching. Although he was partially rehabilitated in 1951, subsequent scholarship has uncovered nothing that puts the basic facts in a more favourable light, and has served chiefly to highlight the evasiveness of Heidegger and his apologists.

As for anti-Semitism, in 1933 Heidegger wrote to Hannah Arendt that he was ‘as much an anti-Semite today as … ten years ago’; nothing personal of course, but given that, as he told Karl Jaspers, there really was ‘a dangerous international band of Jews’, it was obviously necessary to protect the integrity of German universities. Already worried about ‘Jewification’, he implemented Nazi racial policies in the university, and never expressed any concern about the treatment of the country’s Jewish population. After 1945, he barely referred to the Holocaust at all, save to note that the mechanisation of its production methods set a poor example for postwar German agriculture…

By the end of February 1934, Hitler has been chancellor for a year, and Heidegger is beginning to take stock. There is no self-doubt here: ‘For years I have known myself to be on the right path.’ But there is a nagging sense that the Nazis may not have fully appreciated the importance of his thinking…Nazism can be the vehicle of the coming transformation, but only if it accepts that it ‘can never be the principle of a philosophy but must always be placed under philosophy as the principle’. National Socialism is not a philosophy, it is ‘a barbaric principle. That is its essential character and its possible greatness.’..

…Heidegger sees in Nazism the potential to guide Germany ‘to its greatness’, towards the final goal of ‘the historical greatness of the people in the effectuation and configuration of the powers of being’. How can a barbaric principle like Nazism achieve this? Not directly, but the ultimate goal can only be approached by a series of stages. The greatness of the people assumes ‘the coming to themselves of the people … through the state’ [Holy Hegel!]…

Heidegger maintained that Oswald Spengler’s thesis The Decline of the West [see here], was mistaken not because there was any ground for optimism about the future of the West, but because true decline or ‘downgoing’ is the precondition of the other beginning, the experience of the abandonment of being, and the West as a whole lacks the strength for it [my unterganging posts here]. For the Germans, however, it is a possibility: ‘This people, as a historical people, must transpose itself … into the originary realm of the powers of Being,’ because the acceptance of ‘the distant injunction of the beginning awaits them alone.’ The greatness of the other beginning can only be realised by ‘a seizing of, and persevering in, the innermost and outermost mission of what is German’.

Seizing Germanness means becoming indigenous, becoming ‘the one who derives from native soil, is nourished by it, stands on it’…This may sound like the Nazi idyll of blood and soil, but for Heidegger race is a necessary but not a sufficient condition: the Germans may have a historical essence, but they may still ‘abandon it – organise it away’. He is therefore at pains to distance himself from those who preach race and indigenousness, while being themselves conspicuously ill-bred and deracinated. Indigenousness is something that has to be nurtured ‘from its own resources in poetry and thinking’.

Scientific racism proved to be the issue that forced Heidegger to distance himself from the Nazis – not because it was racist, but because it was scientific…he realised that he had misjudged ‘the type and magnitude of the greatness that belonged to it’. Nazism actually represented the culmination of modernity rather than a move beyond it. The technologism of modernity (scientific racism was only one manifestation) which he sometimes referred to as ‘machination’ or ‘gigantism’, was not the way to greatness but rather ‘the genuine antigod of what is great’.

Nazism, with its rigid scientific racism and unbridled appetite for technological development, may have proved a disappointment to Heidegger, but the more modest, ostensibly post-racial nationalisms of the early 21st century would have seemed to him far more promising…

There follows an analysis of Trumpism and globalization and its discontents, then at the end of the article:

…What makes the current moment unique is that the ontological decline of the West has fallen into step with the decline in income differentials, and attachment to place isn’t just a matter of becoming indigenous and making yourself at home in the world, but of stubborn attachment to a particular position in the global economic order. For anyone living in the West who is not in the highest 1 per cent of global income, there is an economic incentive to think in Heideggerian terms; to stand firm on native soil and claim citizenship rent.

When Heidegger realised that the Nazis were going to be less receptive to ‘spiritual National Socialism’ than he had hoped, he gradually retreated from the political fray. But he nevertheless vowed to ‘remain in the invisible front of the secret spiritual Germany’, one of ‘the future ones’ who would stand ‘simply, silently, relentlessly and deeply rooted’, preparing the transition to the other beginning. The future he anticipated is now…

What is to be done? Earlier at the New Yorker:

Is Heidegger Contaminated by Nazism?
By Joshua Rothman, April 28, 2014

…It’s impossible to disavow Heidegger’s thinking: it is too useful, and too influential, to be marginalized. (A few weeks ago, when I pulled “The Essence of Truth” down from my bookshelves, I found it as compelling as I had a decade ago.) But it’s also impossible to set aside Heidegger’s sins—and they cannot help but reduce the ardency with which his readers relate to him. Philosophers like to play it cool, but the truth is that intellectual life depends on passion. You don’t spend years working your way through “Being and Time” because you’re idly interested. You do it because you think that, by reading it, you might learn something precious and indispensable. The black notebooks, however seriously you take them, are a betrayal of that ardency. They make it harder to care about—and, therefore, to really know—Heidegger’s ideas. Even if his philosophy isn’t contaminated by Nazism, our relationship with him is…

Shame we have no magazines in Canada like those.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds