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b_b  ·  1321 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: October 12th: What are you reading this week?

Not sure 'cool' is the word I'd use for it. Insightful, for sure, but cool...maybe not. It's a book about political theory. I can't really give a tl;dr version, because it's full of nuance and any attempt to cut it down to a few sentences would destroy what's so enlightening about it. I will, however, transcribe this passage, which I think captures the book's essence very well:

    It is tempting to imagine that a simple idea in the minds of a simple people decades past and thousands of miles away can explain a complex event. The notion that local east European antisemitism killed the Jews of eastern Europe confers upon others a sense of superiority akin to that the Nazis once felt. These people are quite primitive, we can allow ourselves to think. Not only does this account fail as an explanation of the Holocaust; its racism prevents us from considering the possibility that not only Germans and Jews but also local peoples were individual human agents with complex goals that were reflected in politics. When we fall into the trap of ethnicization and collective responsibility, we collude with Nazi and Soviet propagandists in the abolition of political thought and lifting of individual agency.

    What happened in the second half of 1941 was an accelerating campaign of murder that took a million Jewish lives and apparently convinced the German leadership that all Jews under their control could be eliminated. This calamity cannot be explained by stereotypes of passive or communist Jews, of orderly or preprogrammed Germans, or beastly or antisemitic locals, or indeed of any other cliche, no matter how powerful at the time, no matter how convenient today. This unprecedented mass murder would have been impossible without a special kind of politics.