This essay attempts to discuss ZygmuntBauman’s (1925-2017) theory that modernity, rationality and The Holocaustcoincide with one another. Bauman’s book ‘Modernityand The Holocaust’ (1989) is a dramatic study of Enlightenment reason andits possible deathly consequences. Furthermore, Auschwitz, for Bauman, was theresult of the ‘civilising’ mission of modernity and that the Final Solution wasnot a dysfunction of Enlightenment rationality but its shocking product. Equally,Bauman believes that modernity is generated by social upheavals all of whichare traceable to the capitalist world market. Furthermore, Docker (?, p.
355) states thatthe Enlightenment created reason for modernity, which consumed sensibility anddeprived it of a capacity for wonder, doubt and speculation. The Holocaust isknown as a notorious act of genocide in recent modern history, thushighlighting white supremacy over indigenous groups, who considered an inferiorthreat to the purity of the community. Finally, the dualism proposed byFoucault (?) ofdisciplinary power highlights how repressed humans are.
This is demonstrated byJews being controlled by internalised power, thus making them passive/docile. GET RID OF 24 WORDSAdditionally, for them, anti-Semitism is an example of how civilisationcan revert to barbarism and that irrational outbursts like this are inherent inthe dominant form of rationality. The elements of anti-Semitism demonstrate thelimits of the Enlightenment as the fate of the Jews illustrates the tension inthe universal claims in the Enlightenment: they are to be integrated into acommunity that does not want them and to which they do not wish to fully belongthemselvesRationality s is defined as the human capacity toacquire knowledge and/or make intelligent decisions (Cambridge Dictionary,2006).
Furthermore, Bauman’s approach iscentred on the fact that modernity was a necessary but not a sufficientcondition (1989, p.13). This explains that other things had to happen for suchan event to occur but we have always had the workings of modernity.
Also, Bauman(1989) stated that The Holocaust cannot be simply explained as evil acts byevil men, and nor was it a ‘Jewish only’ event. This is illustrated by notingthat not all men are evil, some are just obedient to commands from superiors. DUALISM Equally,Adorno’s (1966) Negative Dialecticsstates that the spread of reason is itself an act of domination. Furthermore, theHolocaust is seen as the highest point in the development of modern society, asBauman argues that the likes of the Holocaust has seldom every happened inpractice, thus highlighting both sides of the Enlightenment: how something goodlike advancement of reason has turned into something evil like the massgenocide of Jews. Furthermore, Bauman agreed with Adornoand Horkheimer’s (?) thesis on Dialecticof Enlightenment which indicates that the self-destruction of theEnlightenment is a threat to social freedom.
Likewise, they state that the themesof Enlightenment have two sides to it: good and bad. They state, that the “Enlightenment has always aimed at liberating humanbeings from fear and installing them as masters. Yet the wholly enlightenedearth radiates under the sign of disaster triumphant.” This is furthersupported by both Alexander (2013) and Beck (1997), whom argues that modernitypossesses a ‘light’ (progressive) and a ‘dark’ (regressive) side. This is illustrated in the Holocaust, as the Enlightenmentallowed modernity to assist in wide scale repression of the Jews. Furthermore,Beck distinguishes modernity between a normative project grounded in democracy,equality and humanism; and the modern age in which modernity’s opposition topre-modern social conditions is resisted by counter modern social movements.
Baertand Silvia (2010) criticises Bauman by stating that there is not one modernityby many and that the mass elimination of our society allows genocide to happenas people might turn their heads and not bother looking at what is actuallyhappening. Bartov (?) similarly highlights the dark side of modernity’semancipatory aspirations: “we wish to annihilate destruction, to kill war, toeradicate genocide by the most effective and deadly means at our disposal”.Therefore, modernity’s nature is revealed as ‘destructive, unrelenting andintolerant’ (Mosses, ?, p.4). GET RIDOF 94 WORDS + ADD DUALISM.
Eclipse of Reason (1947) =industrial culture – universal feeling of fear and disillusionment –reason/enlightenment idea no longer determined and no longer a guidingprinciple of actions for our lives -reason a tool to be used to produce the end results that we are looking for –man comes to dominate nature while at the same time dominating others bydehumanising them For Bauman, the Holocaust was not a’pre-modern’, uncivilised or barbaric act as it is difficult to take the eventsduring the 1930s/40s and say that it is an aberration of history. However, pastgenocidal acts, such as the Armenian genocide, counter argues this point. Thus,illustrating that genocide has occurred in the past but that it was moderntechnology that showed the immediate awareness of such acts. The Ottoman Empirein 1915 killed 1.5 million Armenians. Consequently, Hitler wanted to recreatethis, as he wanted to wipe out a race that wouldn’t be remembered years later,illustrated by stating ‘no one remembers the Armenians; no one will everremember the Jews’ (REFERENCE). Furthermore,Bauman uses the imagery of the modern gardening mentality as the modernideology to illustrate the relationship between modernity, rationality and TheHolocaust.
This illustrates the rationalisation of evil acts. Bauman arguesthat modernity comprises a ‘garden society’, which cultivates a homogeneoussocial order. He states that those unwilling to conform to the socialnorm/moral order are reduced to the status of ‘weeds’ to be excluded oreliminated (Bauman, 1989, p.
92). Additionally,Bauman treats modernity as constitutively hostile to difference/otherness(Bauman, 1991, p.104), which is demonstrated in the treatment of Jews.
DUALISM Themodern gardener during the Holocaust believed that Jews were a problem as theywere in the way of the neat vision of society as they were hindering it bytaking resources. Bauman (1989, p.56) stated that the Jews ‘were the opacity of the world frightening for clarity,the ambiguity of the world lusting for certainty. They bestrode all thebarricades and invited bullets from every side’. Furthermore, Mann (?) places lessimportance on the mechanisms of ‘othering’.
She sees them as other, somethingthat is docile and controlled by internalised power.