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The Holocaust and the fulcrums of history

 
 
Deckard
 
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 03:58 am
The Holocaust occupies a place in history that is on par with and can be compared with the crucifixion of Christ and perhaps it is more important because it is so much closer to us in time. Someone called the life of Christ the "irresistible fulcrum of history"; the Holocaust is another such fulcrum. The parallels are many. Even the word "Holocaust" which is sometimes translated as "burnt offering" suggests a sacrifice as Christ is said to have been a sacrifice.

Another such fulcrum is the French Revolution. The Terror and the Guillotine might even have some hidden parallels with the more overt sacrificial connotations of the crucifixion and the Holocaust.

1776, 1848, The Paris Commune, 1914, 1917, Hiroshima/Nagaskai 1968 and 2001 (and many other dates both earlier and later) are major events but I would not call them fulcrums. They are turning points but they are somehow less profound.

Hiroshima/Nagasaki might better be called a fulcrum - there is some question as to whether it has been eclipsed by the importance of the Holocaust. Yet I think Hiroshima/Nagasaki doesn't have the same ideological/historical importance as the Holocaust, Christ and the French Revolution.

In this thread I want to make an attempt to establish what qualifies an event as a fulcrum of history. I'm not sure how well this distinction between a fulcrum and major events will be received. I'm just playing around with these labels and trying to wake up from the nightmare of history.

I am trying to figure out what the Holocaust means to me - because it means something to me - it means something very important to me and I want to be able to articulate it. I am not a Jew and yet the Holocaust has a profound meaning to me - a meaning as profound as the French Revolution and Christ and I realize now that I just can't dismiss the importance of Hiroshima/Nagasaki whether it be a true "fulcrum" or not... there is a double-fulcrum perhaps. I'm going to start my quest to better understand what the Holocaust means to me by making this post in Philosophy of History. I think it may be followed by posts in other subsections.

P.S. I'm adding the European Discovery of the New World (1492) to my list of the fulcrums of history. This fulcrum was again accompanied by a blood sacrifice. The Crusades may be another.
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jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 07:24 am
@Deckard,
Judging from the present, it does seem that certain "events" are historically axial; but the events so understood are often a matter of perspective and one's interpretation and understanding of history itself.

One might say that the decade surrounding WW2, for example, saw the use of technology and governmental organisation put to decidedly inhumane use: contemporaneous with the Holocaust was the use of fire-bombing and Stalin's extermination of millions of fellow Russians.

Other axial events (Jasper's phrase) seem to have taken longer. The Industrial Revolution (say arbitrarily, 1820-1920) and the fortunate reaction to is excesses dramatically changed the world (think of how the concept of time changed) both socially and physically.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 07:51 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;162098 wrote:
The Holocaust occupies a place in history that is on par with and can be compared with the crucifixion of Christ and perhaps it is more important because it is so much closer to us in time. Someone called the life of Christ the "irresistible fulcrum of history"; the Holocaust is another such fulcrum. The parallels are many. Even the word "Holocaust" which is sometimes translated as "burnt offering" suggests a sacrifice as Christ is said to have been a sacrifice.

Another such fulcrum is the French Revolution. The Terror and the Guillotine might even have some hidden parallels with the more overt sacrificial connotations of the crucifixion and the Holocaust.

1776, 1848, The Paris Commune, 1914, 1917, Hiroshima/Nagaskai 1968 and 2001 (and many other dates both earlier and later) are major events but I would not call them fulcrums. They are turning points but they are somehow less profound.

Hiroshima/Nagasaki might better be called a fulcrum - there is some question as to whether it has been eclipsed by the importance of the Holocaust. Yet I think Hiroshima/Nagasaki doesn't have the same ideological/historical importance as the Holocaust, Christ and the French Revolution.

In this thread I want to make an attempt to establish what qualifies an event as a fulcrum of history. I'm not sure how well this distinction between a fulcrum and major events will be received. I'm just playing around with these labels and trying to wake up from the nightmare of history.

I am trying to figure out what the Holocaust means to me - because it means something to me - it means something very important to me and I want to be able to articulate it. I am not a Jew and yet the Holocaust has a profound meaning to me - a meaning as profound as the French Revolution and Christ and I realize now that I just can't dismiss the importance of Hiroshima/Nagasaki whether it be a true "fulcrum" or not... there is a double-fulcrum perhaps. I'm going to start my quest to better understand what the Holocaust means to me by making this post in Philosophy of History. I think it may be followed by posts in other subsections.

P.S. I'm adding the European Discovery of the New World (1492) to my list of the fulcrums of history. This fulcrum was again accompanied by a blood sacrifice. The Crusades may be another.


If any event is an historical watershed (let's try a different metaphor) it is the rise of empirical science in the 15th and 16th centuries. Consider the difference between the world in all the many centuries that preceded the rise of science, and the world in the comparatively few centuries after the rise of science, and it is impossible not to see what I mean.
0 Replies
 
Dave Allen
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 02:21 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;162133 wrote:
One might say that the decade surrounding WW2, for example, saw the use of technology and governmental organisation put to decidedly inhumane use: contemporaneous with the Holocaust was the use of fire-bombing and Stalin's extermination of millions of fellow Russians.

Perhaps we could stick all such things under an umbrella of an unprecedented application of industrial processes to kill people, which seems to have reached an apex in the mid-twentieth century?

Like Ken I also think the rise of science is an important, dramatic and perhaps much underrated watershed.

I really don't know what the world would have been like without the invention of music along Pythagorian tonal models. It always seems a bit of a shame to me that whenever a discussion of these "moments of high historical drama" comes up the scrutiny tends to be put upon religious, political or military upheaval. My life would have been undoubtably impoverished without tonal music - so I'd choose the development of that as exemplified by Pythagorus as a particular watershed moment worthy of acknowledgement.

With the added bonus that is was an upheaval with little tragedy attached, afaict.

Castrato and (insert name of least favourite artists/genres that are always in the radio here) aside, of course.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 02:59 pm
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;162190 wrote:
Perhaps we could stick all such things under an umbrella of an unprecedented application of industrial processes to kill people, which seems to have reached an apex in the mid-twentieth century?

Like Ken I also think the rise of science is an important, dramatic and perhaps much underrated watershed.

I really don't know what the world would have been like without the invention of music along Pythagorian tonal models. It always seems a bit of a shame to me that whenever a discussion of these "moments of high historical drama" comes up the scrutiny tends to be put upon religious, political or military upheaval. My life would have been undoubtably impoverished without tonal music - so I'd choose the development of that as exemplified by Pythagorus as a particular watershed moment worthy of acknowledgement.

With the added bonus that is was an upheaval with little tragedy attached, afaict.

Castrato and (insert name of least favourite artists/genres that are always in the radio here) aside, of course.


Equal with the inception and rise of Christianity in the West, there is no more important occurrence than the inception and the rise of empirical science. All other happenings are dwarfed by those two.

There really isn't a singer named, "Castrato" is there? Well, nowadays, who knows. Any foul idiocy is possible.
Dave Allen
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 02:40 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;162199 wrote:
There really isn't a singer named, "Castrato" is there? Well, nowadays, who knows. Any foul idiocy is possible.

I hope not - I was meaning the practice of producing castrato singers in Italy. Which is thankfully a thing of the past.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 04:52 am
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;162325 wrote:
I hope not - I was meaning the practice of producing castrato singers in Italy. Which is thankfully a thing of the past.

Who knows what one will do for fame and fortune...O for the wings, the wings of a dove..

The holocaust another event when man proves his inhumanity. Its these times that we are reminded of our evil intentions, they scare us and remind us of our brutality.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 05:42 am
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;162325 wrote:
I hope not - I was meaning the practice of producing castrato singers in Italy. Which is thankfully a thing of the past.


Well, there certainly might be a Signor Castrato in Italy, and he might even be a singer, but let us fervently hope that Signor Castrato is ill-named. Even if he happens to be a falsetto.
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 12:30 pm
@kennethamy,
Fulcrum isn't the right word. Maybe its the symbolic power and impressiveness of these events that made me class them together.
0 Replies
 
 

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