Monday, October 15, 2018

Traumatized Societies

I once watched a documentary about Berlin in the interwar period. "City of Sex" was the title I believe. I was interested because Weimar Berlin was also a hot-spot of artistic creativity: Dada (brought in by the German ex-pats who created it in Zurich during WWI, Expressionism, Bauhaus, Brecht, Gross, the cabarets,etc., etc.,). Also, I was interested in just how those stodgy old-folks from the 1920s (okay, they were youngsters then) were able to shake-off the Victorian-era prudery that persisted everywhere else until the late-1960s.

Ah! Here's a link to the documentary: "Cultural Alchemy Special Berlin Sin City of the 1920's." Now, it's either in that documentary or I heard it somewhere else, but this is what I heard; That (with a little joke about typical German organizational abilities) in 1920's Berlin you could go to one street and find mother-daughter prostitute teams. Another street was pregnant prostitutes. Another one was fat prostitutes. And so-on and such-forth.

Now, here's the thing: There had never been such a time in Berlin's past or in its future when the women of that city decided to do such things. I'm guessing that they were desperately poor due to the unemployment and the hyper-inflation and the other economic fall-outs from defeat in the First World War. I'll also go out on a limb and imagine that their clients were the war-profiteers, speculators and con-men of the era, plus wealthy foreigners from England, the USA, and France mostly.

Meanwhile, the men (who were not starving at home, perhaps getting drunk and disagreeable while spending the money their prostitute wives were earning) were fighting each other in the streets as socialists, communists and fascists. Again, this was due to the economic crises resulting from the War.

These economic crises were on top of  the moral crises that come out of defeat in war. I know that we Canadians get a little thrill out of having bested the Yanks in 1812-14 (even though that was the achievement of British regulars and Iroquois warriors; the latter of whom we've have treated abysmally ever since) and out of having been on the winning side in most of our other conflicts. The British certainly puff-out their chests over their victories in the two World Wars (and many others besides). France was subjected to an intense round of soul-searching over the 1941-44 period. And they weren't plunged into anything like the interwar catastrophes following WWII.

So, the Germans, a proud and militaristic people, were defeated in WWI, subsequently disarmed and demoralized and then ground down into the gutter by economic crises for two decades. They were traumatized as a society. And the response of those desperate times (as allowed for by German capitalism) was Hitler's fascism. And we all know how well that worked out.

But Hitler wouldn't have gotten anywhere if capitalism hadn't have fucked-up so badly. Hitler's rise was assisted by the immediate dislocations of 1918-19. Then by the hyper-inflation of 1921-23. His Nazi Party's support was ebbing in the late-1920's before soaring again in the Great Depression of 1929-33. The point is that traumatized societies are not healthy societies and they go in unhealthy directions.

An obvious indicator of this is the Trump presidency. True, he didn't win the popular vote. True, Hillary Clinton won more votes in absolute numbers than any of her predecessors. This BBC article gives a good analysis of the numbers though, and adjusting for population growth and other things, Hillary Clinton did better than Gore did against Bush II, but not so staggeringly well as her proponents insist.
The 2004 election had a higher turnout than the 2016 election by about 1.7% of the voting age population, Stanford University political scientist David Brady points out.
If the 2016 election had the same percentage of voting age population, about 2 million more voters would have gone to the polls.
Important fact that. Anyway, the point is (I keep having to use that phrase) that Trump is a symptom of a sick society. If things weren't so consistently shitty, then the level of anger and hatred against the status-quo wouldn't be so intense. (Stupid and/or ignorant people have always blamed scapegoats for their plight, and the more people for whom the word "plight" sums up their situation, the more support you have for racist blowhards like Trump.)

Women are traumatized. This has just occurred to me. Some guys hate women because they've been hurt or rejected by them. They'll bloviate about their hate and loathing of women at great length on the internet amongst like-minded "Men's Rights Activists" or "MGTOW" or "Incel" sub-groups. But these same men can't wrap their heads around the idea that women might therefore have good reasons to hate men. And if they do, they're just engaging in "typical man-hating feminism." But read the accounts of sexual assault survivors. And of victims of sexual discrimination and harassment throughout this patriarchal society's institutions and across history. (In all honesty, I meant to write about something else here but this just dawned on me. And, you know, I think if there's one thing that makes this notion of "trauma" not apply here, it's that "trauma" applies to a profound change of circumstances. Women and long-oppressed minorities generally don't act traumatized because they've spent their entire lives under such conditions. They've been conditioned/reconciled to their state of affairs since birth basically. Still and all, abuse is abuse.

The Jews were traumatized by the Holocaust. They'd been an oppressed minority for over a century in Europe. But the industrial-scale slaughter carried out by Hitler and his Nazis was unheard of. It traumatized them. The helplessness and the humiliations. And, so, they started acting-out. Everything they've done in the Middle East, in Palestine, since 1945, has been the result of the societal trauma created by the Holocaust. And for too long (and not for entirely this reason) we've indulged them out of guilt over their trauma. But it's not good to enable a traumatized person's indulgences. A trauma victim might turn to booze or drugs. They might abuse the people around them. They might became selfish, entitled, self-pitying human wreaks if nobody steps in to teach them more proper ways to heal.

Unfortunately that's not what we've done with Israel. They've been enabled, and enabled, and forgiven and indulged and now they're a sickeningly racist, blubbering self-pitying, murderous, disgusting nation. From top-to-bottom they're moral imbeciles and their judgments upon others are looked at with derision by sane people.

The Middle East is being traumatized right now. Just as the Jews suffered in Europe, the whole Middle East; Arabs, Muslims, Kurds, etc., ... what do we think the long-term ramifications are going to be from millions slaughtered, tens of millions made refugees, tens of millions losing their countries and being governed by US-puppets or (often the same thing) Jihaadist psychopaths? The helplessness and the humiliation. If it wasn't for the fact that the monsters in Washington DC like terrorism because terrorism provides excuses for the military-industrial-complex and the surveillance state, this would be seen as a bad thing. But for those witless foolish monsters, it's GOING to be a bad thing, by their definition, because the level of terrorism created by the massive trauma of tens of millions of people since the beginning of the Great Bullshit War on Terror will be much bigger than they think they can control.

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