Translated here from «La Gauche Communiste», No. 13, our party organ in the French language. We have retained the introduction, which deals with the Klaus Barbie trial. It is still just as relevant today though based on a particular contemporaneous events. The bourgeoisie is constantly seeking to portray nazism as the very anti-thesis of democracy; the merest whiff of nazism and «the experts» are rolled out onto to the current affairs programmes to give us a lesson in how lucky we are to have such a lovely Government. Even very recently there has been the case of a rightwing historian found rummaging through Goebbels diaries in the Russian archives, and then there was the recent «was he, wasn’t he» a nazi concentration camp commandant trial. And there are bound to be more. The analysis in the introduction below then serves to counter all those arguments for a democratic capitalism which are wheeled out on each of these tiresome and predictable occasions.
On the occasion of the trial of Klaus Barbie, about which the Mass media has been assaulting our ears recently, it is appropriate to republish an article that appeared in 1960 in our organ of the period, «Communist Program», no.11, («Programme Communiste») entitled: «Auschwitz or the Great alibi» («Auschwitz ou le grand alibi»).
There is no doubt that this is a quite extraordinary trial. Clearly we are witnessing our great Bourgeois nation putting Nazism on trial. It summons up the dead, the survivors, the torture and the horrors of this «apocalyptic» period, in order to wave the flag of Democracy! A Democracy which is Pure: in love with culture and with rights, and dignified far above the hideous, terrifying monstrosity which «was» nazism; That is, it is declaring openly to its poor, its unemployed, its wage-earners, to that part of the nation worst affected by the economic crisis and the «cleansing» measures of the ruling class, that democracy is still infinitely superior to Nazism; in short, if everybody remains nice and calm, one can come out of things without too many dead bodies! We have understood you well messieurs les Bourgeois. And yet your demonstration would have been very ordinary if you hadn’t delighted in certain additional subtleties to make us lose our bearings. There is in this society based on «rights», and on tons of texts, laws, decrees, and anti-laws to reverse the laws and decrees, a labyrinth of words and intrigue in which only lawyers know their way; the master jugglers might even be able to obtain, – according to Verges, counsel for the defence for the torturer Barbie – the liberation of their client from the French prisons! The unsophisticated electors, Jewish or not, would put a good countenance on it all!
Another subtlety of this trial, that certain dogmatic Marxist carcasses have had the misfortune to fall for, is that apparently it is still necessary to show, in response to certain «masters of polemics», that a vineleaf is clearly a vineleaf, that a «death» camp is clearly an extermination camp, that the concentration camps were not a collective hallucination of the Jewish people! And thus we have the desolate, morbid, even grotesque spectacle of an endless succession of poignant witnesses, heartbreaking opposite a serene Barbie, smiling, without remorse or regret, ever the victor, and who these last few days hasn’t even honoured this «wailing wall» with his presence.
It gets even better: the rightwing Bourgeois, to avoid desperately awkward contradictions, distinguishes between war crimes and crimes against humanity, with only crimes against humanity judged worthy enough to be weighed in the scales of Bourgeois justice, the others being consigned to oblivion… . The Bourgeois do the reckoning thus: on the one side there are the dead killed in the cause of war, through machine gun fire and torture, and on the other side those killed with an ideological aim, (extermination of a race in the aim of purification, for example), in short, «a gratuitous act» in their mercantile system; a death at Auschwitz has mere value for the moral democratic Bourgeois than a death from terror, starvation, or illness in the trenches of 1914–18, and is valued above a tortured Algerian or the tens of millions of civil and military victims who perished in that hecatomb of humanity – the first world war! It appears that when Bourgeois «rights» and morality need to be put in order, it merely depends on a bit of deft juggling.
Last but not least we have a subtlety which throws a little light on the «virtuous» souls of our good democrats, the nazi giantkillers. We find it in the latter’s response to Barbies defence: which opposed the nazi crimes denounced and condemned by the Bourgeois «right», to those not acknowledged, and not condemned by our sublime justice: like the numerous well known collaborations between France and Barbie, the massacres of Mi-Lay for which the USA is still answerable, the massacre of children at Deir Yassine by Israel, the «missing» in the Algerian war, the genocide of North American Indians, the treatment of blacks, etc.. Orthodox democracy replies that there is no difference between a war crime and a crime against humanity, and that it is against «tortures» because it defends the «rights of man». So, just like the pacifists, who denounce all wars wherever they may be, but when the chips are down are to be found rejoining the camp of the defenders of their threatened «fatherland» and defending their democratic privileges and wealth, we find the democrats characterising Nazism in this astounding rejoinder: Yes, the Algerian war was a horrible period…, but at least in France there was a chance to protest, to create a «commission, for the protection of liberties» (the dead Algerians must be turning in their graves) whereas nazism didn’t offer this opportunity! So what inconveniences our «progressive» intellectuals is not torture or horror, but being prevented from expressing themselves, even if their writings do change nothing, it is difficult to believe ones ears!
But there is more; according to them, the nazis brought back torture to Europe. This great German people, renowned as sensible, cultivated and philosophical, permitted a putrid abscess to appear within the heart of a democratic, evolved, civilised Europe that knew of torture only through hearsay from the coloured peoples, the colonies, from the old days (the massacres of proletarians in the last century – the Paris Commune etc., and those of the civil wars of the years 1820 and 1836, are forgotten). They thus find themselves have to face up to, even on their own democratic terrain, with an uncomfortable, thorny problem, insoluble using Bourgeois calculations. In the end, these people just can’t conceive that Democracy, the Bourgeois society founded on rights, could ever produce this systematic horror as a matter of course, from within itself, they can only see it as peripheral. No, it is a hiccup, a historical freak caused by a genetic defect in Germans, as with the Jews! The democrats hide their faces, refusing to recognise that nazism is one of their offspring – and not a bastard either! They refuse to recognise that horror, torture, and war existed before, during and after nazism in all democratic societies, and in all societies based on exploitation of man by man and in all class societies, and that with Capitalism, the horror is characterised at all levels by a hallucinatory and apocalyptic industrialism.
But what was the German nation hoping to achieve by exterminating the handicapped, homosexuals, gypsies, slaves, Communists and Jews, if it wasn’t simply because of the terrible economic crisis that had raged in Germany since the 20's? The article we are publishing below analyses this clearly. Let us then leave it to speak for itself.
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to «Auschwitz – the big alibi»
see also the article «Race and class», which should be read in conjunction of it.
The «German nation«, a classless abstraction, did not want to achieve anything – it was the German bourgeoisie that set this infernal event in motion in order to impose its class rule and its global goals. (sinistra.net)