Sunday, February 26, 2006

ILYA EHRENBURG

Now here’s a guy who could lay down some serious smack against the fascists. Some thought, too serious. He is a controversial figure for his propaganda writings from Moscow during WWII when he exhorted soldiers of the Red Army to kill Nazi invaders in the strongest terms possible. Perhaps he did go too far as the Red Army desecrated Hitler’s fatherland encouraging the raping of German women as well. But then, they were wearing clothing and jewelry sacked from his country. Whatever your feelings about that there is no doubt that no one of his generation countered Hitler’s propaganda more forcefully. He reported on the Spanish War for several Russian Newspapers, drinking with Papa Hemmingway in Barcelona. A few words from the master:

“Unappeasable dark spite ignites the heart of fascism. This is the spite of the Ruhr magnates who in the twenties of this century became frightened of the morning dawn, of the maturity of nations, and of the idea of justice. This is the spite of Krupp, of Voegler, of the owners of Fiat and of Schneider who have called in a band of adventurers and unscrupulous killers for assistance. This is the spite of the Prussian barons, of the Andalusian earls, the Rumanian boyars and the Hungarian counts, the untalented and feeble-minded epigones of a once splendid world who look upon countries as hunting grounds with hounds, and at the peasants who collect acorns on the lord’s land as game. This is the spite of the little, ignorant, petty bourgeois, who is revolted by the complexity of culture, by the boldness of thought, and by progress. This is the spite of failures, of provincial Caesars, backwoods Napoleons who are thirsting to enter history, even if by the back door. This is the spite of the renegades who strive to defile everything that they once loved. This is the spite of old age, soullessness, and death.
The Italian fascists, coming out onto the stage, dressing themselves up in black shirts, have established the cult of the she wolf and have adopted from the wolf pack the “Alala”. The Spanish Falangists have introduced the ritual of “betrothal and death”, carrying their banners to cemeteries, holding processions with naked hunchbacks, God’s fools, and gravediggers – processions resembling the nightmarish visions of Goya. The French Cagoulards put on blind capes taken from the Middle Ages born out of plague epidemics. The German SS men wear skull and crossbones on their sleeves. Goering has revived the executioner in a frock coat with an axe. Himmler has transferred into his torture chambers the torture instruments kept in the Nuremberg Museum. Even the Fascist window-dressing bears witness to black, desperate spite.
Fascism is a monumental attempt to halt the course of history. It has resurrected certain rituals and delusions of the Middle Ages, but the peoples of the Middle Ages did not live only by these rituals and delusions; within them there burned a genuine faith; they created wonderful cathedrals, remarkable epic poems; with their labor, their ecstacy, even with their ignorance they prepared for the age of the Renaissance. The Fascists must not be compared with the peoples of the Middle Ages. They live in a different epoch. They attempted to abandon the concept of time; this explains their sterility. Of course Italy’s grapes still continued to yield wine even under Mussolini; of course Germany’s factories continued to function even under Hitler. But the Fascists did not create anything. They only mobilized contemporary technology for the struggle against the spirit of the time. They turned all achievements of civilization towards destruction.
Italy was justly considered the land of the arts. Fascism did not give birth to any artists; Fascism killed artists. Can the Italian people be proud of the conquest of Ethiopia, which was subsequently lost, proud of the use of mustard gas against unarmed herdsmen, proud of the destruction of Malaga, of the shootings in Greece and the gallows in the Ukraine? Did the spirit of Da Vinci, Dante, Petrarch, Leopardi, Garibaldi express itself in these crimes? When reading the illiterate and dull books of Rosenberg , the articles of Goebbles and Streicher, can we find therein a shadow of German genius, the lucidity of Goethe, the complexity of Hengel, the love of freedom of the romantics? The destruction of hundreds of cities, Europe turned into a desert – such is the creative activity of Fascism. Countries cleared of people and the human head cleared of thought – this is Hitler’s ideal.
It is not surprising that Fascism is attracting the dregs of humanity, people with a slovenly biography, sadists, mental freaks, traitors. The untalented painter Hitler, the untalented novelist Goebbles, the untalented dramatist Mussolini - is it not striking that at the head of Fascists States there are people who dreamed of artistic laurels and were denounced as mountebanks? Fascism attracts all renegades. Judas hanged himself out of sorrow. The Fascist Judases prefer to hang others. Mussolini appeased his spite by the killing of two former comrades – socialists. In France Hitler found two followers, two apostates - Laval and Doriot. Sexual perversion and, in the first place, sadism have become a stronghold of Fascism. The morphine addict Goering, the lecher Goebbles, the sadist Himmler,”Doctor” Ley, the specialist in seducing those underage, degenerates about whose whereabouts directors of prisons and hospitals should be arguing, found themselves in ministerial positions."

There is more, it was a long rant, but you get the idea…

18 Comments:

Anonymous robinhood said...

Hey.

7:15 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

hey robin good ta see ya..

7:58 PM  
Blogger Sgt Marks-a-lot said...

D. Was he from the USSR? Certainly many of the criticisms he has of fascism could also be placed at the feet of communism and today also corporatism.

There is something about concentrating power that brings out the worst in people. I have known many incredibly creative, powerful people who only want enough to get by. Natural leaders lead lightly, despots accumulate and crush everything beneath them.

I enjoyed reading this. God, I am so ignorant. Thanks for sharing.

8:39 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Yes he was the official organ of Russia's propaganda operations. He endured a lot of critism for merely surviving the reign of terror in the thirties. His writing in this capacity are of course to just this purpose and it was not his role to critize anyone but the Nazis. But he also wrote some novels which I have not read. The most salient points in this example, I think, are the ones about fascism's fascination with death...

4:55 AM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Everything old is new again.
Very good posting. Much of what he wrote so many years ago, is true today. I wonder why we allow it to keep happening? That old saying - those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it - is so true. That's why the attack on American intellectuals - get rid of the historians and thinkers, and one can control the populace. It's so disheartening to see that we haven't progressed much in the last 70 years. Sigh.

8:38 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

Thank you, What

That is precisely the purpose of my blog, to point these similarities...

8:53 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

Oh Yeah, Marks-O,

If you would like to read more Ehrenberg, I found "In One Newspaper" a collection of his essays or columns, at my local State University library. That is where I found the material for this post, from an essay called "About Hatred".

10:19 AM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

Duratti, dahlink, where are you? Is all okay?

8:50 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

Just busy what, check back tonight, it might be every second day for a while....

9:07 AM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

As long as I know you're okay, that's fine. If you are only going to post once a week, that's fine too. Just let us know, so we don't worry. Okay, I'm an older lady, so I worry about these things.

11:23 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

I gotta gig working on courthouse sites for my nephew who is a loan officer. But I have to keep with it to make money.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

Do what you need to do to keep food on the table and a roof over the head. I'm applying for a job as a clerk in a book store for cripes sake - after years of being a project manager on multi million dollar projects. We all come to a point where we have to do what is necessary in order to survive - screw the ego. Do think about going commercial with your art, it's terrific. As mentioned, your posting schedule doesn't matter. As long as your fans know you're okay. Best wishes, mon ami.

4:19 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

I never reached your level of success, a problem of focusing my attention to that which is important....
Keep in mind, if it isn't too forward, I draw animals too....
Yours, D.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Sgt Marks-a-lot said...

whattheh - You have me curious. What types of projects were you managing? Are you not doing that type of work because you need to care for your family, or for other reasons? No need to answer if you feel I am prying.

For the last decade I managed similar scope industrial plant expansions. I quit last summer but will soon go back to work as a consultant. If you feel like sharing I am interested.

We could converse in a more suitable forum if you have other suggestions.

D, I appreciate the company here.

Kindest, Marks-a-lot

9:19 PM  
Anonymous WhattheH said...

Marks, I don't mind sharing at all. I worked on Telecom projects - implementation of new networks. e.g. Frame relay technology, ATM (asychronous Transfer mode cell relay) and Virtual private networks for both residencial and corporate telecommunications needs domestic and cross border. But the industry has suffered in the past ten years by a lack of planning, huge losses (Worldcom etc) and has undergone an ongoing cycle of downsizing. I was one of the fortunate ones, and given a pension package along with ye olde president's wallet (with one penny in it). The pension is okay, but not enough to get by on, with two teenage children - one in university, the other at an Arts school and wants to go to a special Sound Engineering school in a years time. As I'm a sole parent, without financial assistance from the deadbeat, I need to get another job. I was offered a consultant's position, but it was in Australia for a year or more, and the kids didn't want to relocate. Any consultant's position in my line of work would involve travel, which is not viable at this time, so I'm trotting around applying at local businesses to supplement my income and try to help the kids out with their expenses. That's it in a nutshell. Good luck with your consultancy.
Durrati, thanks. When I get a bit more balanced, I just might take you up on that.

5:41 AM  
Blogger durrati said...

Marks-O,

I am just terribly proud that the two of you find my scribbling interesting.
Please keep coming back.

WTH,
Thank you, I'm attempting to get my mag write-up on my computer. As someone who holds (or doesn't hold) jobs as opposed to profession, I am perhaps too proud of it.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Sgt Marks-a-lot said...

whatthe - Thanks for sharing. A few years back I remember a Wall Street Journal report on US telecom infrastructure. I think that at that time, 3% of installed fiber optic cable was in use. Rather a stark demonstration of the market's efficient use of capital, eh?

More recent reports indicate that over time this will have been a wise investment (for the surviving companies that is). In 15 years the excess capacity will have been utilized assuming "normal patterns" of US economic growth.

Our future is so bright we need to wear shades.

Kind regards, Marks-a-lot

7:25 AM  
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1:01 AM  

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