Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2003 10:37:30 -0700
To: •••@••.••• (hi list)
From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••>
Subject: CII HI - "They thought they were free"

by Milton Mayer
The University of Chicago Press

From the chapter, "But then it was too late" pages 169
to 172, 1966 edition.

"You see," my colleague went on, "one doesn't see
exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true.
Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but
only a little worse. You wait for the next and the
next. You wait for one great shocking occasion,
thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will
join with you in resisting somehow. You don't want to
act, or even talk, alone; you don't want to 'go out of
your way to make trouble.' Why not?---well, you are not
in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear
of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also
genuine uncertainty."

"Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead
of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in
the streets, in the general community, 'everyone' is
happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none.
You know, in France or Italy there would be slogans
against the government painted on walls and fences; in
Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is
not even this. In the university community, in your own
community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some
of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say?
They say, 'It's not so bad' or 'You're seeing things'
or 'You're an alarmist.'

"And you ARE an alarmist. You are saying that this must
lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the
beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you
don't know the end, and how do you know, or even
surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the
law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the
other, your colleagues pooh- pooh you as pessimistic or
even neurotic. You are left with your close friends,
who are, naturally, people who have always thought as
you have."

"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off
somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no
longer see as many as you did at meetings or
gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance
drops off in little organizations, and the
organizations themselves wither. Now, in small
gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you
are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from
the reality of things. This weakens your confidence
still further and serves as a further deterrent to---to
what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going
to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and
then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and
you wait."

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or
hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes.
That's the difficulty. If the last and worse act of the
whole regime had come immediately after the first and
smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been
sufficiently shocked---if, let us say, the gassing of
the Jews in '43 had come immediately after the 'German
Firm' stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in
'33. But of course this isn't the way it happens. In
between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of
them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to
be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse
than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step
B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D."

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were
ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden
of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor
incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a
baby, saying 'Jew swine,' collapses it all at once, and
you see that everything, everything, has changed and
changed completely under your nose. The world you live
in---your nation, your people--- is not the world you
were born in at all. The forms are all there, all
untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the
jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the
cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never
noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of
identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live
in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate
and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone
is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in
a system which rules without responsibilty even to God.
The system itself could not have intended this in the
beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was
compelled to go all the way."

"You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a
continuing process, a flow, not a succesion of acts and
events at all. It has flowed to a new level, carrying
you with it, without any effort on your part. On this
new level you live, you have been living more
comfortably everyday, with new morals, new principles.
You have accepted things you would not have accepted
five years ago, a year ago, things that your father,
even in Germany could not have imagined."

"Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what
you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what
you haven't done, (for that was all that was required
of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those
early meetings of your department in the University
when, if one had stood, others would have stood,
perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of
hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather
than that. You remember everything now, and your heart
breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair."


Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * PO Box 493 * Eugene, OR 97440 *
Please support our work.  *  Your donations are fully tax-deductible.




    For the movement, the relevant question is not, "Can we
    work through the political system?", but rather, "Is
    the political system one of the things that needs to be
    fundamentally transformed?"

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