Sociology after the Holocaust Author(s): Zygmunt Bauman Source: The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Dec.

, 1988), pp. 469-497 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The London School of Economics and Political Science Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/590497 Accessed: 22/09/2010 11:12
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ZygmuntBauman

Sociologyafterthe Holocaust*
ABSTRACT

of have so far failedto explorein full the consequences Sociologists the Holocaustfor the extant model of moderncivilizationand the logic of the civilizingprocess.While some attentionhas been paid selectedaspectsof the Holocaustby the application to illuminating of availablesociologicalconcepts,the possibilitythat the Holocaust experience demands a substantive re-thinkingof the concepts themselveshas not been seriouslyconsidered.Such an omissionis as as regrettable it is dangerous,in as far as the historicalstudy of the Holocausthas provedbeyondreasonabledoubt that the Nazigenocidewas a legitimateoutcomeof rationalbureauperpetrated craticculture.This fact suggeststhe need of importantcorrections of to our understanding the historicaltendencyof modernsociety, as it revealscertain potentialitiesof modernrationalitywhich are not visible, or not salient enough, under normal conditions.The one posthumousservicethe Holocaustcan renderis to serveas the laboratory in which those potentialities can be observed and investigated.Among the processeswhich the Holocaust brought into reliefand allowed to explore,the rarelydiscussedfunctionof the civilizing process as that of the social productionof moral indifference, and the social production of moral invisibility, close attention. deservesparticularly amongits now includesdeath campsand Muselmanner Civilization materialand spiritualproducts. SCM toAuschwitz, andJohn Roth,Approaches Rubenstein (Richard Press 1987, p. 324. Thereare two ways to belittle,misjudge,or shrugoff the significance of of of the Holocaustfor the theoryof civilization, modernity, modern
. * . .

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One way is to presentthe Holocaustas somethingwhichhappened to the Jews; as an event in the Jewish history. This makes the and sociologically Holocaust unique, comfortablyuncharacteristic,
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Zygmunt Bauman

inconsequential. The most common example of such a way is the presentation the Holocaustas the culminationpoint of Europeanof Christian antisemitism in itselfa uniquephenomenon nothingto with compareit with in the largeand dense inventory ethnicor religious of prejudices and aggressions. Among all other cases of collective antagonisms, antisemitism standsaloneforits unprecedented resilience, forits ideologicalintensity,forits supra-national supra-territorial and spread, for its unique mix of local and ecumenical sources and tributaries. as faras it is definedas, so to speak,the continuation In of antisemitism throughothermeans,the Holocaustappearsto be a 'one item set', a one-offepisode, which perhapssheds some light on the pathology of the society in which it occurred, but hardly adds anythingto our understanding this society'snormalstate. Less still of does it call for any significantrevisionof the orthodoxunderstanding of the historicaltendencyof modernity,of the civilizingprocess,the constitutivetopics of sociologicalinquiry. Anotherway - apparentlypointing in an opposite direction,yet leading in practice to the same destination - is to present the Holocaustas an extremecase of a wide and familiar categoryof social phenomena;a categorysurely loathsomeand repellent,yet one we can (and must) live with - becauseof its resilienceand ubiquity,but above all because modern society has been all along, is and will remainan organization designedto roll it back- if not to stamp out altogether.Thus the Holocaust is classified as another (however prominent) item in a wide class which embracesmany 'similar'cases of conIlict,or prejudice,or aggression.At worst, the Holocaust is referredto the primeval and culturally inextinguishable,'natural' predispositionof the human species - as in Lorenz's instinctual aggression ArthurKoestler'sfailureof the neo-cortex controlthe or to ancient,emotion-ridden part of the brain;las pre-socialand immune to cultural manipulation,factors responsiblefor the Holocaustare effectively removedfromthe area of sociologicalinterest.At best, the Holocaust is cast inside the most awesome and sinister, yet still theoretically assimilablecategoryof genocide;or, simply,dissolvedin the broad,all-too-familiar class of ethnic,culturalor racialhatredan oppression('AngelaDavis is transformed a Jewish housewifeen into route to Dachau; a cut in the food stamp programmebecomes an exercisein genocide;the Vietnameseboat peoplebecomethe hapless Jewish refugeesof the 1930s'9). Whichever the two ways is taken- the effectsare very much the of same. The Holocaustis shuntedinto the familiarstreamof history: when viewed in this fashion, and accompaniedwith the proper citation of other historical horrors (the religious crusades, the slaughter the Albigensianheretics,the Turkishdecimation the of of Armenians,and even the Britishinventionof concentration camps

methodsand concepts modernity by accumulated sociologyare fully adequateto handlethis challenge The . it becomes all too convenientto see the Holocaustas 'unique'.One way or the other.if any.Such sociologicalstudiesas have been has completedso far show beyondreasonabledoubt that theHolocaust is shape able in than stateof sociology sociology itspresent the to more sayabout and of to addto ourknowledge theHolocaust.Nothing. and by the hzstorians the the awesomeamountof workaccomplished and amongbothChristian Jewishtheologians.4 True to the well established principles of sociological practice. that this alarmingfact has faced (much less respondedto) by the sociologists. attention has beenvoiced by historiansand theologians. Hughes defines the problems as one of disclosing the peculiar factorswhichcouldbe sensiblyconnected of combination psycho-social tendenciesdisplayed (as the determinant)with peculiarbehavioural of by the 'dirtywork'perpetrators. to understand. Hughes The National Socialist Governmentof Germanycarriedout the most colossal piece of 'dirty work' in history on the Jews.pogroms and persecutionsof Jews in Christian Europe . dissentwith this complacent. yet fully logical consequence of ethnic and religioushatred. overallresult is theoreticalcomplacency. happened to justify a critiqueof that modelof modernsocietywhichhas servedso thorough and the pragmaticlegitimationof well as the theoreticalframework sociologicalpractice.no major revision of our social theory is really necessary.and so revealed as a uniquely horrifying.the bombis defused. has been perhaps most pertinently event called expressedby one of the profession'smost eminent representatives.afterall. not yet been the perceivesits task regarding The way the sociologicalprofession 'the Holocaust'. listinganotherset of factorswhich detract from the (expected. volumeof soul-searching to the Holocauststudies sociologists of the contribution professional seemsmarginaland negligible.3 Or the Holocaustis tracedbackto the only too familiarrecordof the hundreds of years of ghettos. with Whencompared has beenpaid to thesevoices by the sociologists. though not forthcoming)resistanceto .to 'explainit'. of Whatwe need is betterknowledge the signsof theirrise to power and betterways of keepingthem out of power. to 'makesenseof it'. really. our vision of does not requireanotherhardlook. attitude Thus far. legal discrimination.after Sociology theHolocaust 471 during the Boer War). The are such an occurrence ( 1) who are the crucialproblemsconcerning people who actually carry out such work and (2) what are the in circumstances which other 'good' people allow them to do it.self-congratulating Little.but normal. EverettC.

One thing which emergesfromthe experienceof the Holocaustintactand unscathedis the humanizing and/or rationalizing (the two concepts are used synonimically)impact of social organizationupon inhumandrives which rule the conduct of pre.that the fatal weaknessesof the orthodoxsociology have been inadvertently exposed in Fein's book. Propertiesof national communities.or anti-socialindividuals. It is preciselybecause of the impeccablesociologicalskill of the author.some other regularitiesare statisticallyconfirmed(like the correlation betweenthe absenceof solidarityand the likelihoodthat 'people would become detached from moral constraints'). intensity of local antisemitism.people may respondwithout regardto the possibility of injuring others'. Some hypothetical connectionsare shown to be non-existentor at least statistically invalid. of gainingin the and resulta certainamountof explanatory-predictive knowledge whichin the rationally organizedworldof ours.and in no way discredited activityof socialengineering. the presence of effective social regulationmakesuch disregard unlikely.It dissolvesonce the societymalfunctions. Without sapping the very foundationsof sociologicaldiscourse.which led to a temporary suspensionof the civilizational grip in which human behaviour is normally held.'dirty'effects. resultingcross-communal the solidarity.fromexpressing themselvesin actual behaviourand achievingtheir deleterious.472 Zygmunt Bauman such tendencieson the partof otherindividuals.She definedher taskas that of spelling out a number of psychological.so that correlations may be properly computed and checked for their relevance.Whatever moralinstinctis to be foundin humanconductis sociallyproduced.The lattertaskwill be presumably attainedthroughthe application the of samemodelof actionwhichhas madeour worldrationally organized.degrees of Jewish assimilationand accommodation. one cannot do anything else than Fein has done: conceive of the Holocaust as a unique.Helen Fein5 to has faithfully followedHughes'advice.6 By implication.ruledas it is by causallawsand statisticalprobabilities.will allow its holders to prevent the 'dirty' tendenciesfromcominginto existence. yet fully determined product of a particularconcatenationof social and psychological factors. an anomiccondition free 'In from social regulation.have all beenduly and correctlyindexed. By all orthodox standards. In what has been so far the most notable among the distinctly sociologicalcontributions the study of the Holocaust.ideologicaland structural variableswhich most strongly correlatewith percentagesof Jewish victims or survivorsinside various state-nationalentities of Nazidominated Europe. manipulable and 'controllable'. and the competencewith which they are put in operation. What we need is a bettertechnology forthe old .prominent it is as for pushingregulativeambitionsto the limits neverheardof before- . Fein producedan impressivepiece of research.The thrustof socialregulation and thus of moderncivilization.

educational. and class.Loyal to the preceptsof sociologicalwisdom.only to discoverthat there was none.thereby calling the bluff of 'social determinants'of moral behaviour. facts of modernity. 'normal' (who knows. one can be easily temptedto try the impasse:to proclaimthe Holocaust 'obvious'exit fromthe theoretical a 'paradigm'of modern civilization.Tec came closer than most sociologiststo the discoverythat the real point at issue is not what we. the sociologists. Tec tried hard to find the social determinantsof what by all standardsof the time was aberrant behaviour. In defianceof her own .who remainedmoral under immoral world conditions. its consequencesmust be carefully considered.In . sociological In anotherremarkable the Tec attemptedto explorethe oppositeside of the social spectrum: those people who did not allow the 'dirty work' to be rescuerswho dedicated their lives to the sufferingothers in the perpetrated.7In otherwords. Nechama studyof the Holocaust. .socialization pressures goingawryand hence unableto producethe neededvolumeof moral motivations)has been dashed. she put to the test all hypotheses which any respectable and knowledgeablesociologist would certainly include in the research project. the contributionof such determinantsexpresseditself in their failureto extinguishthe rescuers'urge to help others in their distress. correlations politicalallegiancefactorson the other denominational. of universalselfishness.One by one. While the necessityto ask this questionseems both a most urgent and a most ignobly neglected part of the Holocaust legacy. not a product.and our practice.They camefromall sectorsand to rescuebecausethis was their corners of 'social structure'.spontaneouslythey were able to strikeout against werewilling of the horrors theirtimes'. Havingprocessedthe ness and inbornsavagery facts of the Holocaust through the mill of that methodologywhich definesit as a scholarlydiscipline.It is only too easy to overreact to the apparent bankrupty of established sociological visions. had to drawthe hersociologically conclusion:'These rescuersacted in ways that were only permissible naturalto them .can say about the Holocaustbut.and Tec trainedreaders. the sociologists.expectations. what the Holocaust has to say about us.the rescuers nature.after Holocaust Sociology the 473 rampantselfishon of is the imposition moralconstraints theotherwise of the animalin man. rather.civilizing failingto subdueemotionaland violentdrives.perhapsalso common)product.If anything. Once the hope to contain the Holocaust experience in the theoreticalframeworkof malfunction(modernityincapable of suppressingthe essentially alien factors of irrationality. the orthodoxsociologycan only than by 'the deliver a message bound more by its presuppositions of the case': that the Holocaust was afailure.its 'historicaltendency'. its 'natural'. She computed between the readinessto help on one hand.

some pursuingcharitable lives.The partners continue to enjoy their marriage. having allegedlyelevatedthe historical and theoreticalsignificanceof the Holocaust. undoubtedly THE HOLOCAUST AS THE TEST OF MODERNITY intervieweda sample of A few years ago a journalist of Le Monde hijack victims.this view. In ideological a perversefashion.the findingwas.The most fascinating present. that the Both were possibilitieswhich the characterof the victims contained all along . indistinguishable heroes. him that episode.some leadingsimple.most of these helpersmight have continuedon their independentpaths. which was the mask? concluded questionwas wronglyput.however. however.while resourceful businessmen world'fell to pieces and did little except bewailingin advance of the their imminent perdition. None was 'truer'than the other. was the trueface. Ordinary saw their creatures. caring only for their own stomachs.unawareof the unprepossessing qualities any extraordinarycircumstances may still uncover in personsthey seemed to know so completely.each of these Januses was clearly And and capableof.likingwhat they knew. Yet the other was always aspectof this invisible.Most interviewees the divorcees they had never contemplateda divorce beforethe hijack.Theyweredormant actions.and in abundance.474 Bauman Zygmunt thisversion. conditionsfavoured it above the other.only they surfaced at different times and different The 'good' face seemed normalonly because normal circumstances.as the horrorsof genocide will have become virtually whichthe modernsocietydoes from indistinguishable othersufferings generatedaily. can only belittle its importance.The journalist asked himself a question: which of the two incarnations.he probed jointlythroughthe agonyof hostageexperience.often . he found an former abnormallyhigh incidenceof divorce among the couples who went Intrigued.the truth only superficially modernity formulaimposedby thosewho benefitfromthe 'big lie'.unobtrusive fromthose aroundthem. we The paragraph quoted beforefromNechamaTec's study ends with the followingobservation (W)ereit not for the Holocaust. daring be' selfish 'men displayeddisgustingcowardice. the Holocaustwould be promotedto the status of the truth of modernity (rather than recognized as a possibility the concealedby the contains) .'theireyes opened'. Much to his amazement.and 'they Duringthe horrifying good husbands'provedto in partners a new light'.thoughnormally venture. told for the reasonsof theirdecision.that were it not for the hijackers' will 'otherface'would probablyremainhiddenforever.

And so HenryFeingoldinsists that the episodeof the Holocaustwas indeeda new developmentin a long and on the whole blamelesshistory of modernsociety. began to consumeitself. which was it the originalhope of the Enlightenment.of individual readinessfor sacrifice.that is. or go out of business. the probability theirlater manifestation.a developmentwe had no way to expectand predict. the Holocaustwas not an antithesisof modern civilizationand everything(or so we like to think) it stands for. of likean appearance a new malignstrainof an allegedlytamedvirus The Final Solution marked the juncture where the European industrialsystem went awry.Those decisionswould have been made on rationalgrounds.And that the two faces are attached to the same body. more familiar. whether the slave labour operationsshould continue.authorityto determine laws were brokenand no crimes would have foundthat no natural against God and humanitywere committedin the Holocaust. expand.and the secondbeing an beinga yet-undisclosed already-realized and thus empiricallyaccessible.modeof the first) in a direct contact with our problem whatoughtto be Had Nazi Powerprevailed.that. We suspect (even if we refuseto admit it) that the Holocaustcould have merely uncoveredanother face of the same modern society whose other. John R. in short. more than a cancerousgrowth on the otherwise healthy body of the civilized society. It was by dint of that industrialsystemand the ethosattachedto it that Europewas able to dominatethe world as if the skills needed and deployed in the service of the world were qualitativelydifferentfromthose which securedthe domination . Often we stop just at the thresholdof the awesometruth. It would have been a question.after Sociology theHolocaust 475 One of the most powerfully(and convincingly)arguedconclusionsof the study was the impossibilityof'spotting in advance'the signs. is that the two faces can exist withouteach other no more than two sides of the coin.8 The unspoken terror permeating our collective memory of the Holocaust(and more than contingentlyrelatedto the overwhelming desirenot to lookthe memoryin its face) is the gnawingsuspicionthat the Holocaust could be more than an aberration. though.face we so admire. more than a deviation from otherwise straight path of progress. What we perhaps perfectlycomfortably fearmost. to decide.insteadof enhancinglife. or symptoms. Roth brings the issue of potentiality versus reality (the first mode of the second.outsidethe context of whichcalls theminto beingorjust 'wakesthemup'.or indicators.or of in cowardice face of adversity.

'normal'not in the sense of the familiar. was structurally different no from organized German society as a whole. its priorities.The brilliantly organized railroadgrid of modernEuropecarrieda new kindof raw material to the factories. the rawmaterialwas human beings and the end-productwas death.we cannotdeny Buchenwald a as casual aberrationof a Westernworld essentiallysane.In the gas chambers. What we witnessed was nothing less than a massive schemeof social engineering. which were produced by the advanced chemicalindustryof Germany. in the sense of beingfullyin keepingwith everything but we know about our civilization.the victims inhaled noxious gas generatedby prussic acid pellets.the experienceof the Holocaustwas new and unfamiliar). managersdesigned the system of bureaucracy that workedwith a zest and efficiencymore backwardnations would envy.with its visionof a profusion death. the very symbol of the modernfactorysystem.its immanentvision of the world .but Buchenwaldwas of our West as muchas Detroit'sRiverRouge. magisterial studyof the Holocaust's accomplishment The machineryof destruction.then. with its vision of universalmaterialabundance.We may of wish to deny the connection. pouredforthacrid smokeproducedby burninghumanflesh. Even the overall plan itself was a reflectionof the modernscientificspirit gone awry. explainedand accommodated to (on the contrary.and of the properways to pursue human happiness together with a perfect society.l° Let us also recallthe conclusionRaoulHilberghas reachedin the end of his unsurpassed.l i .and the applied technologyof the concentration camp. of one more specimen in a large class of phenomena long ago describedin full.all those many thingswhich renderedit possible. In the words of Stillmanand Pfaff (t)here is more than a wholly fortuituousconnectionbetweenthe applied technologyof the mass productionline.'9 The truthis that everythingabout the Holocaust.its guiding spirit.476 Zygmunt Bauman effectivity the Final Solution.was normal.It did so in the same manneras withothercargo. The machineryof destructionwas the organized community in one of its special roles. so many units per day marked carefully the manager's on production charts.The chimneys.And yet Feingoldis staringthe truth of in the face [Auschwitz]was also a mundaneextensionof the modernfactory system.Engineers designedthe crematoria.Ratherthan producing goods.

convened in 1978 by the Institutefor the Study of Contemporary Social Problems.I have searchedin vain the works of sociologists for statements expressing similar awarenessof the urgency of the task posited by the Holocaust.some of the best known of Weber's diagnoses of the tendenciesof modern society. It is an errorto imagine that civilizationand savage crueltyare antitheses. wars.'It bears'. . principleof efficiency. also a challengeto sociologyas a professionand a body of academicknowledge.scientificmentality. and exquisite music. Civilization means slavery. In the It Final Solution.perceivedor theorizedabout.Sociology the after Holocaust 477 RichardL. we cannot but admit that in our praiseof and materialprogressour civilizationhas broughtwe have sorelyunderestimatedits true potential. Richard L. among other things. have become far moreeffectivelyadministered than ever before. the industrialpotentialand technological know-how boasted by our civilization has scaled new heights in coping successfullywith a task of unprecedentedmagnitude.ip Hilbergis a historian.and death camps. was an advance.qua sociologists. rationalspirit.Rubensteinis a theologian. It also means medical hygiene. Rubenstein presented an imaginative attemptto re-read.could have been anticipated (by Weber himself and his readers). let us add. He founda positiveanswerto this question.like most other aspects of our world. exploitation.or at least so he suggested: thatin Weber'sexpositionof the modernbureaucracy. at least as a possibility. In our times the cruelties. elevated religious ideas.'3 During the symposium. the bulk of academic sociology looks more like a collectiveexercisein forgettingand eye-closing.relegationof values to the . . beautifulart. The worldof the death camps and the societyit engendersreveals the progressively intensifyingnight side ofJudeo-Christian civilization. I do not know of many occasions on which the sociologists.in the light of the Holocaustexperience.fromwhat Weberknew.And in the same Final Solution our society has disclosed to us its heretofore unsuspected capacity.confrontedpublicly the evidenceof the Holocaust.for evidence that the Holocaust presents. Taught to respect and admire technical efficiency good design. When measuredagainst the work done by the historiansor theologians. but of which Weberwas naturallyunaware. in a double sense.They have not and will not cease to exist. 'witnessto the advance of civilization'. Both creationand destruction inseparable are aspectsof what we call civilization. Rubensteinhas drawnwhat seems to me the ultimate lessonof the Holocaust.he wrote.One suchoccasion(thoughon a smallscale) was offeredby the symposium on Western Society after the Holocaust. Rubensteinwished to find out whetherthe things we know about.

Incensedby the possibleharmto Weber'smemory (a harm lurking.however detrimentalit may be for the . For example. except dimly.that. no horror perpetrated by the German medical profession or Germantechnocrats was inconsistentwith the view that valuesare inherentlysubjectiveand that science is intrinsically instrumental and value-free. This state of afEairs worryingnot only.unavailableto the classics. as a matterbetweentheJews and their haters (a 'privatization' which many a spokesmanof the State of to Israel. or admit the very suppositionthat our sad knowledge.we need not botherwith the challengeof the Holocaust in our daily professional practice. it is just that most other sociologistshave not been forcedto do so in such an outspokenway. And he went on.GuentherRoth is not the only sociologistwho wouldrallyto the defenceof the hallowedtruthsof ourjoint tradition at the expense of the adverse evidence. as it were. and not at all primarily.478 Zygmunt Bauman realm of subjectivityetc. as it were.therewas nothingin Weber'sideal typeswhichwouldnecessitate describing the activitiesof the Nazi state as excesses.With that.the Holocaustis at best offeredas a sad exampleof what an untamedinnate human aggressiveness may do. a person with such integrity could not anticipate charismatic a leaderlike Hitlerand a rationality thatof like the gas chambers.and approved of the working-class' voting rights. interests' area. the eminent Weberianscholar and a sociologistof high and deservedrepute. aware. loved the constitution. have succeeded we in all but forgetting or shelvingit awayinto the 'specialist it. In all probability.As a profession. By and large. There is just no sentence in his presentationthat I can accept'. reminding the gathering that Weber was a liberal. By implication. did not try to hide his displeasure:'My disagreementwith ProfessorRubensteinis total. no mechanismwas recordedcapable of excludingthe possibilityof Nazi excesses. GuentherRoth. worst. is for professionalreasons . moreover.has contributed morethan a minorsharel4). and then used as pretextto exhortthe virtues of tamingit throughan increasein the civilizingpressure another and flurryof expert problem-solving.If at all discussedin sociologicaltexts. fromwhere it stands no chance of reachingthe mainstream of the discipline.guidedby other than eschatological concerns. may enable us to find out in their insights things of which they themselvescould not be. in the very idea of 'anticipation' ) GuentherRoth flatly refused to consider the substanceof Rubenstein's argument. it is rememberedas a At privateexperience oftheJews. he rejectedthe chance of facing pointblank the 'other side' of perceptive visions bequeathed by the sociologicaltradition.

that. instead.defendsthis right.against people under its rule.and effortto accomplish.yet significant reliable. . now thoroughly researchedby the historians.or engage in genocidal massacres. a sociological such attributes The 'laboratory'.l5 no effective Auschwitzfromgenerating and to preventsuch possibilities principles As like catastrophes. are: historical meaning of the 'civilizing process'.lX The longerit is neglected. for all practicalpurposes. The anxiety can hardly abate in view of the fact that none of the societal conditions which made Auschwitz possible has truly disappeared.Like in the cases brieflydiscussed to at the beginningof this section. and hence are not empirically conditions. . in view of the author.in 'non-laboratory' and to treatthe Holocaustas a rare.it is all within the range of human possibility. then it can happen anywhere. and like it or not. and .the more enormousis the task of the rereadingthe sociologicaltradition.should be looked upon as. Holocausthas exposedand examined of our society as are not revealed. 'existencenow is more and more in recognizabfy accord with the principleswhich governedlife and have been undertaken measures that deathin Auschwitz.test of the hiddenpossibilitiesof modernsociety.It will now requirea collective.This paper'sambitiondoes not reach protracted.are in the most urgentneed of orthodoxy searching and critical review. on the contrary.after Sociology theHolocaust 479 cognitivepowersand societalrelevanceof sociology.In other words. of stage in the implementation the task. Auschwitzexpandsthe universeof consciousness no less than landingon the moon. I propose accessible.it is moreappropriate assumethat posthumousservice the Holocaust can renderis to provide an one into otherwise unnoticed 'otller aspects' of the societal insight principlesenshrinedby modernhistory.and the culturalrole of the valuebureaucratic free ideal of knowledge. Leo Kuper has recentlyfound out. the UN. Among the elements selected. the function of the criteriaof rationality.the right to commitgenocide.I proposethat. as an integral part of its sovereignty. the experience of the Holocaust.which has been heretofore beliedby the dominantorthodoxy. It beyonda very preliminary of the few elements of sociological is confinedto the 'taking stock' which. so to speak. The claim that criticalscrutinyof the receivedwisdomis necessary does not need the ridiculousassumptionthat the Holocaustrevealed 'the true essence' of moderncivilization. .What makesthis situationmuch more disturbingis the awarenessthat if it could happen on such a massive scale elsewhere. the sovereign territorialstate claims.

the human purposive. long ago ossifiedinto the commonsense of our era.cultivating.we do nothave as yet enough civilization.and.standsfast the modern'gardening' state. In view of this myth. and their ultimate results.Obviously.Moderncivilizationwas not the Holocaust's . Marx'sgrandprophecyof life and historycomingunderfull the human species once it is freed from the presently controlof debilitating parochialities. psychoanalytical promise to prise off and tame the animal in man.and weed poisoning. We certainly move in the right direction. unfinishedcivilizing The yetto be broughtto its conclusion. perhapswe do not move fast enough.it is that the preventionof similar hiccups of barbarism evidentlyrequiresstill moreof the civilizingefforts.There isnothingin this lesson to cast doubt on the future effectivity such of efforts.480 THE MEANING OF THE CIVILIZING PROCESS Zygmunt Bauman The etiologicalmyth we teach our studentsis the morally elevating story of humanityemergingfrom pre-socialbarbarity. the chorus of the whichassureus that human problemsare mattersof wrong experts and that right policies mean eliminationof problems. Weber'svision of rationalization as a movement toward achieving more for less effort.If the lessonof mass processis murderdoes teachus anything .its its rational criteriaof choice. above all. reason-guidedactivity) to contain the morbidnaturalpredilectionsof whateverhas been left of man. It arrived(in the by formidable shape Hobbes would certainly disown) in a factoryproduced vehicle. As its full picture emerges from historicalresearch. policies. wieldingweaponsonly the most advancedscience could supply.The to Hobbesian worid the Holocaust did not surfacefrom its too-shallow of grave. and following an itinerarydesigned by scientifically managed organization.the Holocaustcan only be understood the failureof as civilization (i. viewingthe society it rules as an object of designing.the Hobbesianworldhas not beenfully nature in chained. Elias'sportrayal recenthistoryas thatof eliminating of violence from daily life . and hardly everexposed. interpretation of the Holocaust an event which disclosedthe weaknessand fragility as humannature (of the abhorrence of murder. of guilty conscienceand of responsibility fear for immoral behaviour) when confrontedwith the matter-of-fact efficiencyof the most cherishedamong the productsof civilization: technology.and possibly more credible. resurrected the tumult of irrationalemotions.The myth is seldom challenged.In otherwords. its tendencyto subordinatethought and action the pragmaticsof economyand effectivity. disinclination of to violence. Behind the alliance.so does an alternative.e.as it is backedby a broadcoalitionwhich containssuch powerfulauthoritiesas the 'Whig view' of history as the victorious strugglebetweenreasonand superstition.This we call the 'civilizingprocess'.the Hobbesian problemhas not beenfullyresolved.

Sociology the after Holocaust 481 sufficient condition.as well as in factorylikeefficiency the killingcentres.for the minutiaeof for bureaucratic regulation.unity. reductionof frictionand of materialand personalcosts.discipline.l8 The department in the SS Headquarters in charge of the destruction European of Jews was officiallydesignatedas the Section of Administration Economy.l7 Just considerwhat was needed to makethe Holocaustuniqueamong the many mass murderswhich markedthe historicaladvanceof the humanspecies.and the compliancewith the law.speed. discretion. strict subordination. this vast bureaucratic apparatus showed concern for correct bureaucratic procedure. only in part and This can it be explainedby referenceto the notoriousNazi 'speechrules'.Industry'sinfluencewas felt in the greatemphasis upon accounting.the of giganticscale of the moral odium).and a notion of history-making . (the only sense which can be expressedin the language of bureaucracy). a degree much too high for comfort. Though engaged in mass murder on a gigantic scale.the partycontributed of to the entireapparatusan 'idealism'. the Holocaustwould be unthinkable. but also the organizational achievementof a bureaucratic society. it was. Like all other activities amenableto bureaucratic rationalization. it fits well the sober descriptionof modern administration offeredby Max Weber Precision. however.these are raisedto the optimumpoint . most certainly its necessary condition. was only partly a lie.Finally. the activitydid not differin any formalsense. was the It rational world of modern civilization which made the Holocaust thinkable. It was indeed the organized society in one of special roles. The Nazi mass murderof the EuropeanJewry was not only the technologicalachievementof an industrialsociety.Withoutit.and salvage. unambiguity knowledgeof the files.the To designation faithfullyreflectedthe organizational meaningof activity. continuity.penny-saving. designed to mislead both chance observers and the less resolute amongthe perpetrators. .a senseof'mission'. From the army the machinery destructionacquiredits militaryprecision.monitored and supervisedby 'ordinary'administrative and economicsections. The civil service infused the other hierarchies with its sure-footed planning and bureaucraticthoroughness. to be precise. fromall otherorganized activities designed. of and callousness. the nicetiesof precisedefinition. Exceptfor the moral repulsivenness its goal (or. .

.Schleuner's findings conceptsummarizes best 'functionalist' school in the Holocaust in recent (which of yearsrapidlygains historiography the of the strengthat the 'intentionalists'. The business primarily means a discharge of 'objective'dischargeof calculablerules and 'without business regardfor persons'. Hitler objectiveof set the Nazism:'to get rid all to the make oftheJews.emergeinch by the at each a different inch.l9 accordingto Zygmunt Bauman There nothing in this is descriptionwhich bureaucratic definitionof the Holocaustas warrantsquestioningthe truth a manifestation or eithera simpletravesty of of And yet the Holocaust a particularly monstrous formof cynicism. . possessed).482 the in strictly bureaucratic administration .e. new crises.. which single-cause a vision explanation ascribesto the genocidea of the Holocaust and a consistency never it motivational logic. becauseit remindsus (as not if we need such a how formal and ethically reminder) just blind is the efficiency.It did.2l . We to Karl owe Schleuner20 the physical extermination European concept of the twisted road to of Jewry:a road conceivedsingle vision in a of a mad monster. . is so crucial to our modern bureaucraticmode of understanding of rationalizationnot only. or impersonal. . The of the thrive in the light shed by the knowledge of bureaucratic Holocauston our rationalityis at its most realize extent to the dazzlingonce we which the very idea of outcome bureaucratic the Endlosung an of the was culture. maintaininga command and information.oncewe realize the availabilityof well developed unprecedented scale dependedon and firmly entrenched habits meticulousand of skills and precise division of smooth of flow labour. without of Jews' how this was to be achieved. ever destination. According to the functionalists' findings. offersabove all the Bureaucratization optimumpossibilityfor principle of specializing carryingthroughthe administrativefunctions purely objective according to considerations. territory but specifying of the Reichjudenfrei. significance Its bureaucraticpursuit of is not fully to extentthe what mass murderon expressedeither. clearand above i. rather. synchronized coordination of on yet those skills and habits autonomous complementary well actions: which best grow and atmosphere office. and the primarily. whichwas neither choice at the nor was a considered made start of the ideologically 'problem-solving process' by motivated pointing stage to leaders.and pressed shiftingin responseto forward with a 'we will cross once we come to it' that bridge the of the philosophy.who defend dominant in turn find it increasingly expense the once difEcultto thatis.

Central Poland. At first of the lfazi bureaucracysaw the conquest and appropriation the quasi-colonial territories as the dreamt of opportunity to fulfil seemed Fuhrer'scommandin full: Generalgouvernment to provide the dumpinggroundfor the Jewry still inhabitingthe lands sought-after destined for racial purity.given the enormousdistance.Ambitions by step.her farwhich into awaycolonycould be transformed theJewish principality failed to materializein Europe. ever moredistinctly. proved to be similarly ill-fated. it expandedinto the objectiveofjudenfrei on such a scale could not be satisfied by a Madagascar.the shapeof a the thousand-year the Europe. and newly expanded.Instead. depended on the alwaysjudged by the 'experts'fromthe point of view circumstances.22 The objective had to be implemented.Under the circumstances.with France defeated. everything went on exactly as Weber. Reich took up. what was.A jurisdiction) the numberofJews underGerman lfazi-dominatedEurope (rather than simply the 'reunited Reich') yet seemeda moreand moretangibleprospect. and physicalextermination chosen as the most feasible and effective means to the original.Gradually relentlessly. to Hitler'sobjective. before the conquest.When Austria was annexed.it would have resulted in a judenfrei were the other countriesmore hospitableto Jewish refugees. spelled out The 'politicalmaster'findshimselfin the positionof the 'dilettante' who stands opposite the 'expert'. facing the trained oflicial who standswithin the managementof administration'. Himmlerorderedto stop all further and Jewish emigration. goal of ajudenfrei German-ruled step couldnot but followthe process Almostimperceptibly) Germany Europe. end. however.however accessible. In the meantime)the size of the conquered continuedto grow. the recruitment trainingof Einsatazwas was gruppen set in motion.with his usual clarity.after Sociology theHolocaust 483 Once the objective had been set. But then the territoryunderNazi rule began to swell. To this. The rest was the matter of cooperationbetween . the of saddledwith the management the sectionof Germanbureaucracy objected:it had alreadyenoughtroublewith territories former-Polish policing its own local Jewry. of of feasibilityand costs of alternativeopportunities action. and the Britishlfavy presencein and territory.With all previouslytried solutions unable to keep pace with the fast growingproblem. Eichmann earned his first accolade for expediting and streamliningthe mass emigrationof the Austrian Jewry. And so Eichmann spent a full year workingon the Madagascarproject.A separatereservefor of GermanyprQper. The Madagascarproject)however. so highseas. how. the volumeof the necessaryship space. And so of emigration GermanJews was chosen first as the practicalsolution Germany. in was the futureiJewishprincipality' designatedaroundlKisko.

It was a legitimate residentin the house of modernity.mass murders.much less still.as they arose in the changingcircumstances. indeed instances not far removedfrom genocide. that modern bureaucracy mustresultin the Holocaust-style phenomena. the contrary.budgetbalancing. which have been perpetrated withoutmodernbureaucracy. skillsand technologies the it commands. . decrees appeared in 1942 prohibiting GermanJews from having pets.the matterof dull bureaucratic routine. This is not to suggest that the incidence of the Holocaust was determinedby modern bureaucracy the culture of instrumental or rationalityit epitomizes.I do suggest. The most shatteringof lessons deriving from the analysis of the 'twistedroad to Auschwitz'is that.in the last resort. of The 'FinalSolution' did not clashat any stagewith the rationalpursuitof efficient. The mere existenceof a corpusof Jewish expertscreateda certain bureaucratic momentum behind lfazi Jewish policy.pogroms. Even when deportationsand mass murderwere already under way. expertise demonstrated self-propelling its capacity. Once again. make To the pointsharperstill .We know of many massacres.it arose out of a genuinely On rationalconcern. designing proper technology and technical equipment. receivingthe Reichsport or badge!It did not requireordersfromabove. verypresence functionaries as The of charged with their specific tasks led to further initiatives and a continuousexpansion of original purposes. optimal goal-implementation.23 At no point of its long and tortuollsexecutiondid the Holocaust comein conflictwith the principles rationality. gettingtheirhaircut by Aryanbarbers.merelythe existenceof thejob itself.the choicewas an effectof the earnesteffortto find rationalsolutions to successive'problems'.of careful planning. budgeting.universalrule application. The Holocaust was not an irrationaloutflow of the not-yet-fullyeradicatedresidues of pre-modernbarbarity.its proclivityto expandand enrichthe targetwhich suppliedits raison d'etre. to ensurethat theJewish expertskept up the flow of discriminating measures. scientificprinciples its internalmanagement. was also affectedby the widelydescribed It bureaucratic tendencyto goal-displacement-an affliction normal as in all bureaucracies theirroutines.the choiceof physicalextermination the rightmeansto the taskof'gettingrid'of as the Jews was a productof routine bureaucratic procedures: meansends calculus. one who would not be at home in any other house. however. indeed. the of The Holocaust.and it was generatedby bureaucracy to its form true and purpose. clearlyunthinkable was withoutsuchbureaucracy.however.484 Zygmunt Bauman various departments of state bureaucracy. calculatingand mobilizingnecessaryresources: indeed.

indeed.bureaucraticform of institutionalization. . common sense of our modern.it does not differ significantlyfrom what sociology has been saying all along. from seldom questioned. and brought to its conclusion. and still less frequentlyassailed.that the bureaucratic to as as an objectof administration. And I also suggest that it was the spirit of instrumentalrationality. no less cynical. Eichmann's Dr Servatius. Neitherare they immanently Moralevaluationis somethingexternalto the actionitself. also immoral. the Holocaust-style solutions not only possible.as irrational.certainlyone of the most poignantof the centurynot at all short of strikingideas . but eminently 'reasonable'.thereis the commonsensical case fromits legitimateway of excludingEichmann's no sociologically app lcatlon.'mastered' and as 'remade'. a collectionof so many'problems' or and 'improved' be solved. The obvious messageof this statement. in general a gardento be designedand kept in the plannedshape by force (the gardeningposturedivides the vegetationinto 'culturedplants' to be was takencareof. What is so alarmingin the messageof Dr Servatiusis that . It brings home the that as long as truthwhichon the whole we preferto leave unspoken: truth in questionis acceptedas evident.once detached from the circumstancesunder which it was uttered. SOCIAL PRODUCTION OF MORAL INDIFFERENCE summarized pointedly counselin Jerusalem.is trivial:might does make right.but much more alarming:Eichmanndid nothingessentially fromthingsdone by thoseon the side of the winners. improper indeed. the actions they served. or.slowlyyet consistentlydeveloped.decidedby criteriaother than those which guide and shape the action itself. Dr Servatius's statementis shocking precisely for this reason. .after Sociology theHolocaust 485 that the rules of instrumentalrationalityare singularlyincapableof that thereis nothingin thoseruleswhich such phenomena: preventing disqualifiesthe Holocaust-stylemethods of'social engineering'as or.and increased the probabilityof their choice. and consideredin depersonalized. and the weeds to be exterminated). rational society. not so evident. and goes to the gallowsif one loses. have no intrinsicmoralvalue. culturewhich promptsto view society further. a legitimatetargetfor 'socialengineering'. .universal terms . the very atmospherein whichtheideaofthe Holocaustcouldbe conceived.as 'nature'to be 'controlled'. This relatedto the ability increasein probabilityis more than fortuitously to of modernbureaucracy coordinatethe actionsof great numbersof moralindividualsin the pursuitof any.ends. Eichmann committed acts for which one is his line of defense: if decorated one wins.Actions different immoral.I suggest. and its which had made modern. Yet there is also another message.

to look again. social miscreantsor otherwise morally defective sadists. There is little choice left. It is in these patternsthat we can of the in the times uncoverthe possibilityso dramaticallyrevealed Holocaust.at the allegedly fully understood. sieve. or at mosta few.and even more universal of knoweven that when.We knowalreadythat individuals legitimate theinstitutionsresponsiblefor the Holocaustwere in no that the Now we see sense pathologicalor abnormal. problem In the famousphraseof HannahArendt. The refutation Their by Kren drift present of historicalthinkinghas beenaptlysummedup Rappoport. would have easily or psychiatrictests ordinarilygiven to Americanarmy recruits KansasCity policemen. the animal astounding physical pity by which all normalmen are affectedin the presenceof most enlistedinto the organizations We suffering'. It is also theoretically of those when seen conjointly with the 'normality' particularly the whichcoordinated actionsof suchnormal structures organizational into an enterpriseof the genocide. individuals.24 people. was 'how to overcome. and clinicalcriteriano morethan 10 per cent of the SS By conventional general could be considered'abnormal'. hope to modernrationalaction. the interpret Holocaustas an outragecommittedby madmen.however puzzling.forinstance. men.therewas usuallyonly one. SS men not otherswere for their intense outburstsof sadistic cruelty. by historical researchis today all but final. in failed to find any confirmation the facts of the case.25 knowthat people neither directly involved in the business of mass murder were fanatical.the mostdifEcult with (and solved encountered which the initiatorsof the Endlosung success. established our new but therefore.as it were).This observationfits the of the in most trend of testimony by survivors indicating that known camps. .The alwaysdecentpersons. We the scene of and the Einsatzgruppen other units similarly close to . . . of That most of the perpetrators the genocidewere normal dense. psychiatric will who freelyflow throughany known. with the eyes sharpenedby normal patterns of knowledge. Our judgment is that the overwhelmingmajorityof SS the passed all leadersas well as rank and file. .is morally disturbing.but theirbehaviourwas at least considered by comprehensible the prisoners. sociological did whoseactionsthey institutionalized not deviateeitherfrom people standards of normality.486 Bauman Zygmunt to It is common knowledge by now that the initial attempts born criminals.members againsttakinglife.We can assume that abnormallysadistic nor abnormally to the they shared in the well-nigh instinctual human aversion inhibition afflictionof physical suffering.

it would appear)on organizational routine. .ideologically over-zealousindividuals.Any memberof the OrderPolice could be a guard at a ghetto or on a train. In other words. on individual not zeal.yet disciplined strictlycoordinated of and bureaucracy.the latterwouldbe in all probability dysfunctional regardingthe organizational capacityto act. ideological not dedication. We was know that the very nature of administrativeplanning. concern with maintaining mental sanity and upholding moralstandardsof his many subordinates engageddaily in inhuman activity. . Every lawyer in the Reich Security Main Office was presumed to be suitable for leadershipin the mobile killing units. and in all likelihood genuine. base animalinstincts. were censoredand penalized.that 'unrealistic fool'.In Hilberg'swords. of the jurisdictional structureand of the budgetarysystem precludedthe specialselectionand special trainingof personnel. SS dissociateditselffromsuch the 'emotional' types as Streicher. Loyaltyto the gory task was to be . all necessaryoperationswere accomplishedwith whateverpersonnel were at hand.And then it was not at all clear whether the killing instincts can be relied upon to surface in all those thousands of ordinaryclerks and professionals who. .he also expressedpride that. both sanity and moralityemergedunscathedfrom the test.and much effortwas made to keep the whole task in a businesslike and strictly impersonalframework.Sociology theHolocaust after 487 actualkillingswere enlisted.could lead (at least in principle) in to trial and conviction. unlike those following orders and perpetrated an organizedfashion. becauseof the sheer scale of the enterprise. a multitude of vengeful and murderousindividualswould not matchthe effectivity a small.a derivativeof the loyalty to the organization.on discipline.and was indeed.Killings induced by desire or pleasure. To quote Arendtagain.bar or discharge all particularly keen.On morethanone occasionHimmlerexpressed deep.We know that individualinitiativeswere discouraged.specialcare was takento weed out. like ordinarymurderor manslaughter. by its 'objectivity' (Sachlichkeit).26 The SS leaderscounted (rightly. emotionally charged. Personalgains. and personalmotives in general. The 'overcoming animal pity' could not be soughtand attained of throughreleaseof other. and also from certain'Teutonic-Germanic Partybigwigs'who behavedas though they were clad in horns and pelts'.must have been involved at various stages of the operation. every finance expertto the Economic-Administrative Main Officewas considered a naturalchoice for service in a death camp. in his belief. The Germanperpetrator not a specialkindof German.

more precisely . disciplineis substitutedfor moral responsibility.as they conformto his command). In organizationalideology. to put the devotion to the welfare to the organization.With the third condition we will deal separately. The discomfortwhich the practising such virtuesmay cause on occasion. in its turn. 'external'influences.'This kind of behaviourmeans.as the honourof the civil sevant:'The honour of the civil servantis vestedin his abilityto executeconscientiously the orderof superiorauthorities. readiness for such an extremekind of self-sacrifice articulatedas a moralvirtue.and thus denial of the authority of private conscience.such interestsas do not overlapwith the task of the organization). during the . Among these other.infering with the spirit of dedicationand hence markedfor suppressionand extinction.above all other devotions and commitments. however.is counterbalanced of by the superior's insistence that he and he alone bears the responsibility his subordinates' for actions (as long. and the victimsof the violenceare dehumanized of (by ideological definitions and indoctrinations).personalviews and preferences the most prominent. The first principlemost obviouslyrelevantto our queryis that of organizationaldiscipline. The selfless observanceof that moral virtue is then represented. The first two.488 Zygmunt Bauman And so . of Kelman.29Through honour.how these ordinaryGermanswere transformed the into Germanperpetrators mass crime?In the opinion of HerbertC.which.This holds even if the orderseemswrongto him and if. singlyor together: violence the is authorized official orders coming from the legally entitled (by quarters). cannot but mean readiness to obliterate one'sown separateidentityand sacrifice one'sown interests (by definition. is as the moralvirtue destinedto put paid to all other moraldemands.When pressed to explain.exactly as if the orderagreedwith his own conviction. despite the civil servant'sremonstrances. Weber completedhis descriptionof the civil servant's honour with emphasizing strongly the 'exclusive personalresponsibility' the leader. in Weber'sfamouswords. The delegitimation of all but inner-organizational rules as the source and guaranteeof propriety. for a civil servant.28moral inhibitions against violent atrocities tend to be erodedonce threeconditionsare met. of course.'moral disciplineand self-denialin the highest sense'.indeed.They have been spelledout repeatedlyin those principles of rational action which have been given universal applicationby the most representative institutionsof modernsociety. authorityinsists on the the order.the demand to obey commandsof the superiorsto the exclusionof all other stimuli for action. sound remarkably familiar.actionsare routinized rule-governed (by practicesand exact specification roles).as definedin the commandsof the superiors. 'a responsibility cannotand of he must not reject or transfer'. are The ideal of discipline points towards total identificationwith the organization. become now the highest moral virtue.

the bureaucratsof the SS was part of the design. Cooperationof the The victims' of victimswith perpetrators a pogromis inconceivable.a crucialconditionof its success. of implementation the task of their destruction. why he did not resign from the commandof the of Einsatzsgruppewhose actions he.including tion transformed its victims.a worryhe could safely leave to those who commandedhim to act. This astonishingeffectof successfullyextendingthe rules of bureaucratic conduct. .by their Jewish victims.into an integralpart of the chain of command. . German supervisorsturned to Jewish money. will be practisedby his own superiorstowards himself.after SociologW theHolocaust 489 Nurembergtrial. First.he would have let his men to be 'wrongly accused'. .30 everythinginto gold. were moralor my immoral. complete with the delegitimation of alternative loyaltiesand moral motivesin general. yet often with dedication verging on selfabandonment. The genocide was a composite process: as Hilberg observed.and thingsdoneon German orders. as a person.an area subject to the strictly disciplinary rules and freed from moral judgement. This is the technical superiorityof a purposefullydesigned. cooperationwith indeed. SS administraIf Midas'stouch transformed everythingwhichhad come into its orbit. . disapprovedwere he to Ohlendorfinvoked precisely this sense of responsibility: exposethe deeds of his unit in orderto obtain releasefromthe duties he said he resented . I do not think I am in position to judge the responsibilityof a statesman.or police. or to judge whetherhis measures.it includedthings done by the Germans. I surrendered moralconscienceto the fact I was a soldier. .Obviously. rationally organized mass murderover riotous outbursts of killing orgy.and thereforea cog in a relativelylow positionof a great machine. A large component of the entire process depended on Jewish participation the simple acts of individualsas well as organized activity in councils . .upon the intendedvictims of and thereby deploying their skills and labour in the bureaucracy.and the councils councilsfor information. . . providedthem with these means every day of the week.labour. this absolved him from the worry about the moral evaluationof his actions.bureaucracy) in a twofoldway.sinisteror benign. the externalsetting of the ghetto life was so designedthat all actions of its leadersand inhabitantscould not but to remainobjectively'functional) Germanpurposes. .was achieved(much as in mundaneactivityof everyother.Ohlendorfexpectedthat the same paternalistic he responsibility observedtowards'his men'.

into murderers consciouscollaborators the murdering or in process.evenJewish incorruptiof bility could be a tool of Germanadministration. and in which the rationaldecisioninvariably agreeswith the 'managerial design'.still had a choice between a 'quick and painless' death. the moral characterof action is either invisibleor purposefully concealed.3' As a matterof fact.presented a welcome sight after days spent in overcrowded. on which the victimshad of no control. .Those who alreadyknew the truth and entertainedno illusions. . because those who remained behind would reason that it was necessaryto sacrificethe few in orderto save the many.particularcare was takenthat at everystage of the road the victims should be put in a situation of choice.490 Zygmunt Bauman Everything that was designedto maintainits [Ghetto]viabilitywas simultaneously promotinga Germangoal . and one precededby extra sufferingsreservedfor the insubordinate. to which criteriaof rationalaction apply. The gas chambers. as the moralaspectsof actionsare not immediately obviousor are deliberately prevbnted fromdiscovery and discussion. Second. filthy cattle carriages.The experience the Holocausthoweverbringsinto reliefanothersocial of mechanism. In other words. Jewish efficiencyin allocating space or in distributingrations was an extension of Germaneffectiveness.a social production conductcontrary the of to the innate moral inhibitions.capable of transforming individuals who are not 'moraldegenerates'in none of the 'normal'senses. . The Germanswere notablysuccessfulin deportingJewsby stages.The struggleover moralissuesnevertakesplace. SOCIAL PRODUCTION OF MORAL INVISIBILITY So far we have tried to reconstruct the social mechanism of 'overcoming animalpity'. one with a much more sinisterpotentialof involvinga much wider numberof people into the perpetration the genocide of who neverin the processfaceconsciouslyeitherdifficultmoralchoices or the need to stifle inner resistanceof conscience. Jewish rigorin taxationor labourutilization was a reinforcement Germanstringency. temptingly dubbed 'bathrooms'.Hence not only the externalarticulations the ghetto setting. also the rationalfaculties of the 'functionaries' that extensionweredeployedforthe elicitation of of behaviourmotivatedby loyalty and cooperation with the bureaucraticallydefinedends.were manipulated as to transform ghettoas a whole so the into an extensionof the murdering machine. even those alreadydeportedwere left with the opportunityto deploy their rationality to the very end.

.such knowledge their minds. Africanchildren'is equally universally. A fewyearsagoJohn Lachssingledout the mediationof action (the for of phenomenon one's action being performed one by someoneelse.Whatamazesus is . to think how is it possible that the 'fall in commodity of welcomedas good newswhile 'starvation prices'may be universally and sincerely. on the other hand. Little moralopprobrium morethannecessity to the naturalhumanproclivityto avoidworrying required and thus to abstainfromexaminingthe wholelengthof the causal chain up to its furthest links. (W)e shall crueltyof at not be surprised the immenseand largelyunintentional men of good will . with his actions.The 'middleman' shieldsoffthe outcomesof inconsequential the actors' sight. who 'stands between me and my action.They could destroya whole people by sitting at their desk.whileat the same time honestly bewailingthe massacresvisited upon each other by Ethiopiansand or Eritreans. . in the remoterecessessof bustle. . . Most bureaucrats composed memoranda. drew up blueprints. talked on the telephone. The man who has actuallydone them. will always view them as someoneelse's and himself as but the blamelessinstrumentof an alien will . The remarkablething is that we are not unable to recognize wrongacts or grossinjusticeswhenwe see them. the person on whose behalf they are done. actionfrom The result is that there are many acts no one consciously For appropriates. makingit impossiblefor me to experienceit directly')as one of the most salient and seminal featuresof modernsociety. and participatedin conferences. . they he only verballyor in the imagination: will not claim them as exist his own since he never lived though them. with a multitudeof minute acts and space between the two packed actors. Causal connectionsbetweentheir actions and the mass was attached murderwere diflicultto spot. by an intermediateman.lamented.even the bestof Withoutfirsthand acquaintance of humansmoves in a moralvacuum:the abstractrecognition evil is neithera reliableguide nor an adequatemotive .it is helpfulto thinkof the of workers an armamentplant who rejoicein the 'stayof execution'of theirfactorythanksto new big orders. To understand how that astoundingmoral blindnesswas possible. or did not fireriflesatJewishchildren pourgas intogas chambers . There is a long with the distancebetweenintentionsand practicalaccomplishments. 491 [ofgenocide] (i)t mustbe keptin mindthat mostofthe participants . at best. .32 Werethey awareof the ultimateproductof theirostensiblyinnocuous wouldstay. .after Sociology theHolocaust To quote Hilbergagain.

of Other murder techniqueswere thereforesought . the link betweenthe carnageand totally innocentacts. to design ever more devastatingspecimensof nuclearwarheads. This is why the administrators genocidefoundthe methodprimitive inefficient.an incommensurability which easily defies comprehensiongrounded in commonsensical experience).it was exceedinglydifficultfor the shootersto overlook the connection between shooting and killing.It is therefore possibleto be a pilot deliveringthe bomb to Hiroshimaor to Dresden. while the occasions for moral scrutiny and consciousmoral choice becomeincreasinglyrare. .is likely to remaina purely theoreticalnotion (the tendency enormouslyhelped by the mere discrepancyof scale betweenthe result and its immeditecause. . like pullinga trigger.Though effortswere made to keep the weaponsat a longestpossibledistancefromthe ditchesinto which the murdered were to fall . or pressing a button on the computerkeyboard. up victims were brought in front of machine guns and killed at a point-blank range. through their remote effects. With mostof the of of sociallysignificant actionsmediatedby a long chainof complexcausal and functional dependencies. With this effectof the invisibilityof victimsin mind. contributed causing midery. important an factoralso in infamous Milgram's experiments). or switching on the electric current. arguably.it quashes the moral significanceof the act and thereby preemptsall conflict between personalstandardsof moral decency and immorality the socialconsequences the act. to excel in the duties assigned at the guided missiles base.such as would opticallyseparate the killersfromtheirvictims. it is perhapseasier to understandthe successiveimprovements the in technology the Holocaust.and all this withoutdetractingfromone's moral integrityand coming anywherenear moral collapse (invisibilityof victimswas.34With killing 'at a distance'. It is difficultto acceptthatoftenthereis no person and no groupthat plannedor causedit all. You could never go wrong if you killed people at long range with sophisticated weapons'. As Philip Caputo observed.The searchwas successful. A similareffect(and on a still moreimpressive scale) is achievedby rendering victimsthemselves the psychologically invisible. It is even moredifficult to see how our own actions.492 Zygmunt Bauman how they could have come about when each of us did none but harmlessacts . latterof gas the .33 to The increasein the physicaland/or psychicdistancebetweenthe act and its consequences achievesmore than the suspensionof moral inhibition.war ethos 'seemsto be a matterof distanceand technology.At the Einsatzgruppen the rounded of stage.then stationary chambers. led to the and invention firstthe mobile. has been This certainly most decisive among the factors responsible for the escalation of human costs in modern warfare. moral dilemmas recede from sight. of and as well as dangerousto the morale the perpetrators.

On the other side of the boundary.the typhus-warning . and the distancingof the unsightlyor morallyrepellingoutcomesof actionto the point of renderingthem invisibleto the actor.to exclude the Jews fromthe universeof obligationit was only necessaryto deprive in themof the membership the Germannationand state community. Once the objectiveofjudenfrei Europe. after Sociology theHolocaust 493 the most perfectthe Nazis had time to invent. This was the method of making the very of humanity the victimsinvisible. moralpreceptsdo not bind.36 European of To induce the cooperation(or just inaction or indifference) nonmore was needed.Helen Fein'sconceptof the universe of obligation ('the circle of people with reciprocalobligations to protecteach other whose bonds arise fromtheir relationto a deity of goes a long way towardsilluminating sacredsource of authority'35) the socio-psychologicalfactors which stand behind the awesome of effectivity this method.weremost excelledin a third amongthem. . but perfected to an unprecedentedlength.one needsmerelyto evict them fromthe universeof obligation. had reasons to fear and resent their claims to the Germany monopolyof human virtue.the evictionof theJews from turnedinto the goal ofjudenfrei the Germannation had to be supplantedby theirtotal dehumanization. as measuredby one superior and uncontestedvalue of the rights of Germanhood. In anotherof Hilberg'spoignantphrases.* * * . of'Jews and lice'.the fate of Jewry was sealed. Within the Nazi vision of the world. . which they did not invent either. Yet the Nazis particularly prominent method. the changein Hence Frank'sfavouriteconjunction of rhetoricexpressedin the transplanting the 'Jewishquestion'from the context of racial self-defenceinto the linguisticuniverseof 'selfposterson the cleansing'and 'politicalhygiene'. To renderthe humanityof victimsinvisible. (w)henin the earlydays of 1933the firstcivil servantwrotethe first definitionof'non-Aryan' into a civil serviceordinance. by forthe nationswhich. and moralevaluationsare meaningless. success of the Holocaustwas due in The technical-administrative part to the skilfulutilizationof'moral sleepingpills' made available by modern bureaucracy and modern technology. Strippingthe Jews of their GermanEuropeans.even if they likedthe ideaspromoted the new rulersof Europe. was evidentlynot enough Germanhood. The natural lnvlslbllty ot causa connectlonsln a comp ex system ot lnteractlon. sufficientfor the GermanSS. * .reducedthe roleof the killer to that of the 'sanitationofficer'asked to empty a sackfulof in chemicals'throughan apperture the roofof a building 'disinfecting the interiorof which he was not promptedto visit. * .The 'universeof obligation'designatesthe outer limits of the social territoryinside which moralquestionsmay be asked at all with any sense.

had been long ago as acknowledged a constitutivefeatureof moderncivilization. which in turn safeguard in of conditions socialpeaceand individualsecuritypoorlydefended a .however. Focusing on one process. and in particular the tendency to subordinateuse of violence to rationalcalculus.it falsely suggeststheir fortuitousand transitorynature. it draws an arbitrary dividing line between norm and abnormality. as a system of institutions which cooperate and complement each other in the imposition of a normativeorder and the rule of law. the suppressionof irrationaland essentiallyantisocialdrives. . and delegitimize ethical motivationsof social action. a process of divesting the use and the of deployment violencefrommoralcalculus.494 Bauman Zygmunt for of of walls the ghettos. first and foremost.it certainlylooks one-sided. among other things. simultaneouslyconcealing the striking resonance between most prominentof their attributes and the normative assumptionsof modernity. I proposethat the majorlessonof the Holocaust.and of emancipating of ethical normsor moral desiderataof rationalityfrom interference inhibitions.Weber'selucidation the conditions and the mechanism of rationalization reveals these lzec . whereit is used solely to guardthe perimeters What blendsthe communityand conditionsof socialorder).and its constantpotential. national twocentrepointsinto one is the vision of the civilizedsocietyas.the outcomes as must be recognized legitimate phenomena Holocaust-style tendency. a moral force. As the promotion of rationality to the exclusion of alternative criteria of action.and finallythe commissioning the chemicals fWur thelast act fromthe DeutscheGesellschaft Schadlingsbekampung Company.By delegitimizing some of the resilient aspects of civilization. exprobate.it forecloses discussion important scrutiny facet or historical of no less crucial tendencies. pre-clvl This vision is not necessarily misleading. .While it opens for the trendsof recenthistory. We need to take stock of the evidence that the civilizing processis.In other words.as its twocentrepoints.destructivepotentialof the civilizingprocess. In the light of the Holocaust. and the gradual yet relentlesseliminationof violence from social life (more precisely: concentrationof violence under of of control the state.one that sociology can ignoreonly at its peril. it divertsattentionfromthe permanence of the alternative.a GermanFumigation MORALCONSEQUENCES OF THE CIVILIZING PROCESS Thesharedsociologicalimageryof the civilizingprocessentails.so as to include latter'stendencyto demote. settlng. of the civilizing of Readagainwith the benefitof hindsight. * * . is the necessityto expandthe theoretical model of the civilizing process.

inadmissibility ethical problematics any of in other form but that of communally-sustained ideology and thus heterogenous to the sociological (scientific.This general accomplishmentof rationalizingtendency has been codifiedand institutionalized. And it also revealsits capacityof generating of the Holocaust-like solutionwhile pursuing.yet thus far underratedconnections.Sociology theHolocaust after 495 important. indeed. modern not in bureaucracy. Nature and styleof sociologyhas been attunedto the selEsame modernsociety it theorisedand investigated.or.sociology did not morethan partakein the scientificculture.rational action.functionat the same time as powerfulfactors in isolating the end-orientated.reciprocal respect etc.as binding rulesof own discourse. the fundamentalcondition of its success as an instrumentof rational coordination action. Any revisionof the theoryof civilizingprocessalong the suggested lines would involve by necessitya change in sociologyitself.as. And so the sociology promoted.its daily problem-solving activity. the same principles of rational action it visualizedas constitutiveof its object.solidarity. revealedsome of its less advertized aspectswhen the issueof production disposalof and corpsesin Auschwitzhad been articulatedas a 'medicalproblem'. it revealsthe silencingof moralityas its majorconcern.as its own criteria of propriety. and thus renderingit immuneto the constraining impact of the postulates of mutual assistance. Littell'swarningsof the credibility crisisof the modernuniversity: What kind of a medical school trained a Mengele and his associates? What departments anthropology of prepared staffof the Strasbourg University's'Instituteof AncestralHeredity'?37 Not to wonder for whom this particular bell tolls.We see more clearly that the conditions of the rational conduct of business .It is not easy to dismiss FranklinM.sociology has been engaged since its birth in a mimetic relationshipwith its object.or betweenprivateincomeand public purse. In observingsuch principlesin its professional practice. Self-imposed moral silence of science has.Subjected to the same retrospectivere-reading. after all. from interchange with processes ruled by other (by definition irrational)norms. rather.As partand parcel of the rationalizing process. sanitized roomsof bureaucratic office.like the notoriousseparationbetween the household and the enterprise. It also promoted. Phraseslike 'the sanctity of human life' or 'moralduty' sounded as alien in a sociology seminar as they do in the smoke-free.that culturecannotescapea secondlook. unexpectedly. to avoid the .in an impeccablyrational fashion.with the imageryof that objectwhich it constructed acceptedas the frame and for its own discourse. rational) discourse. which are sustained in the practices of non-business formations.

Braceand New 2. Comp. of 9.Social Problems. York. On Ag.Holmes & Jews. . 7.How Canwe Commit Unthe 3. 2. 193. Cunning L. 240).38 Zygmunt Bauman University Leeds of NOTES * This is an early version of the thatsocietyinsists'(as it does with other Introduction Modernity the to and Holocaust.Hutchinson1978. of New York. the New to spareone'sown'.249). almostany length to avoid admittingto 11. humannaturefor the explanation the p.in Annals AAPSS.p. of ky Amongmanywritingswhich attemptto and Daniel Landes (eds). rigorously monitored and restrained' 1.Behaviour.ThePolitics Hysteria.1980. Boulder. prehensive survey of theoriesof human 4. WendyStellarFlory FreePress 1979. Feingold. Helen Fein. Krenand LeonRappothinkable? IsraelW.Janus:A is the Holocaust?'.. 1989.Harcourt. .p. Richard Rubenstein.p. 'tendencyto get 1962. . 70. John K. Roth. Oxford University Press Press1986)explainsthe incidenceof the 1986. Westview the Darkness. 34. kinds of selfishness) that it must be PolityPress. Comp. The .496 Zygmunt Bauman temptation to shrug off these questions as of merely historical significance. 30.450. . Floryclaimsthatthe prevention Meier 1983. July of prejudice 'the most fundamental by and 1980. National Response JewishVicand goat'. needssearchno furtherthanColinGray'sanalysisof one the momentumbehind the contemporary nucleararms race: Necessarily.in Genocide. 'projectingthat we 5. 3-10drunkwith power'.p. GeorgeM. the pride that makes us ready to go to Harper& Row 1964.. 994. it is the physical unknowns that attract scientific attention) . intuitive all humandrives selfishness'. Highly motivated. 8.p. Business'.op. Feingold. EverettC.in 6. York. 'Holocaust antisemitismby ubiquitous prejudice. gression.pp. Accounting for can bearleast in ourselvesinto a scape. ('The Psychologyof Antisemitism'. port.or 'killingthe humanityof another timization during Holocaust. 399-400. Charny(Boulder.and considers such hypotheses as andDirtywork'. MichealCurtis (ed. 3. Konrad Lorenz. technologicallycompetentand adequately funded team of research scientists will inevitably producean endlessseriesof brandnew (or refined)weaponideas.vol. York.).Pfaff. p. NechamaTec. When LightPierced Contemporary World. Alex Grobman Up. 398.Genocide.cit. 'Good people nature. Holmes & Meier ) New minentplace. Holocaustby tenacity of antisemitism.The bookcontainsa com. of Holocaust.1. (p. Ibid. Antisemitism the in 7. The by Holocaust theCrisis Human and of Westview Press 1982 occupies a pro. Raoul Hilberg. of destructive effectsof prejudice requires 12. . TheDestrstionof ourselvesthat we were in the wrong' theEuropean New York. Los Angeles. the scientists and technologists on each side are 'racing'to diminish their own ignorance(the enemy is not Soviet technology.(p. Summer 'man is naturallyevil'. Critical Summing London. whichin its turnis explained 'theresult as 10. p. HenryL. Edmund Stillman and William of anotherhuman characteristics . Issues theHolocaust.'How Unique World 197 Arthur Koestler. Hughes. deploytheories immanentfaultiness of of The Simon Wiesenthal Center 1983.

p. Leo Kuper. of 34. Marrus. thus the Los AngelesTimesascribes to Begin 'the language of Hitler'.after Sociology theHolocaust 497 of History. 1036-8. 121. portantpoint:the killingof two-hundred. Arendt comments that he (and not necessarilyhe alone) travestiedKant's pp. p. and not of those of the six million' 25.'Puta18. Fein. Political categorical New Century. 229.Nuremberg (eds). op..... Western Universityof Roadto Suschwitz. Gerthand C. In the wordsof the formerforeign Illinois Press 1970.. The after Society theHolocaust.p. individualautonomy. Report theBanality Evil. indeed.New York. 126. Holt.Brighton. 17-18).p.cit.. Ibid.op.). 136). 15. Schleuner. Lucy Individual ModernSociety. the eyes of Palestinian at him fromunder the photosof Jewish 29. Having in HolocaustStudies'. Kren and Rappoport. Franklin Littell.VikingPress 1964. Issues 1973. 147. 450. 195. 215.but the law.July 1980. Race. 161. 143.Annals AAPSS. 1042.1011. 1024. p. op. Lyman H. Karl A. H. meansto implementthe set goal.. a productof rationalproblempp.Journal American another Arabslookingout Social 29. 21. statementsinvite responsein kind: and 27. of AAPSS. Genocide.everyfoe becomes in History. Marrus. ChristopherR. bombingwas to demonstrate 36. London. p. superiormilitarypower'.p. made this evidently true observation. 213.cit. p..op.op. Kelman.cit. Colin Gray. cit. S. 1981).op. Haven. 13. Browning. Comp. ledge & Kegan Paul 1970. Comp. the Holocaustwith other cases of mass like murder. 4.. p.it should support Usein theTwentieth 'act subordination: as if the bureaucratic Yale UniversityPress 1981.cit. QuotedafterRobertWolfe. 39. Gerthand Mills. Hannah Arendt.p. cit. surveyand partisan In hercomprehensive of 32..p. cit. Gerth and Mills.Arms thousandJapanese was conceived(and pp. 31. p. 30. Kren and Rappoport. Begin-style New York. op. 14. '. cit. that insteadof Its 16. London. misses an im38. 12-13. Responsibility the caust by the historians(TheHolocaust in HarvardUP. cit. p. Dawidowiczobjectsagainstequating Harvester1981.HerbertC. 41. Legters (ed. FromMax Weber.op. in Grobman& Landes. 29-61. Rout. solvingmentality. the wipingout of Hiroshima New York. Twisted WestviewPress 1983. of 17. 'The principle youractionwerethe sameas and Bureaucracy the Holocaust'. p. "Auschwitz" Eban continues: 'It is 22.. A Rumour War. executed) as a searched-foreffective . children marched into gas chambers Duringhis trial. so imperative.p. Eichmannin (quoted after Michael R.'Fundamentals by 'wasnot motivated a wish to wipeout of theJapanesepeople'(p. Curtis. p. 106. 148. Comp. 20. 1044. 24. 64.pp.AbbaEban.pp. Leo Kuper.it was. H. John Lachs. MichaelR.. op. Hilberg. theHistorians. Michael Jerusalem. Philip Caputo. America's 35.. Rinehart & Winston and Nagasaki: 'The purpose of the 1977.'WithMr. a "Nazi". while 28. op. op. Ibid. 'Is of on in A therea New Antisemitism?'. Hilberg. 450. 37.91.p.cit.EdwardAlexander ibid. The Soviet-American Dawidowicznevertheless SaxonHouse 1976. 26. 95.July 1980. Lexington. WrightMills tive Threat to National Security as a Annals Defencefor Genocide'. Harper 1978..'Violof journalistwritesabout ence withoutMoralRestraint'.cit. 40.cit.p. Eichmanninsistedthat he obeyed not just orders.TheHolocaust of minister Israel. that of the legislatoror of the law of the German land' (op. Hilberg. abouttimethatwe standon ourown feet 23. op. 214. University of New Beginand his cohorts. 19. 177-8). evaluationof the treatment the Holoof and 33. 58.the bombing M.pp. 69..pp.cit. Boulder. every blow becomes an England1987. ) in (comp. 232. Browning.

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