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66

Some People Can Even Sleep Through an Earthquake

2
terms
5
notes

we interrupt the scenes of German life to hear about the author's profoundly negative views on socialism, views that were clearly shaped (I would say, too much so) by the Soviet Union

Schneider, P. (None). Some People Can Even Sleep Through an Earthquake. In Schneider, P. The German Comedy: Scenes of Life After the Wall. , pp. 66-91

(adjective) gray or white with or as if with age / (adjective) extremely old; ancient

67

That hoary insult seems on its way to becoming a honorific.

referring to "anti-Communist"

—p.67 by Peter Schneider
notable
3 years, 1 month ago

That hoary insult seems on its way to becoming a honorific.

referring to "anti-Communist"

—p.67 by Peter Schneider
notable
3 years, 1 month ago

translated from the German compound noun "Nibelungentreue", expressing the concept of absolute, unquestioning, excessive and potentially disastrous loyalty; derived from the medieval chivalric ideal of loyalty as exemplified in the medieval German epic poem Nibelungenlied

70

The archaic ideal of Nibelung loyalty still counts more than the desire for knowledge.

—p.70 by Peter Schneider
uncertain
3 years, 1 month ago

The archaic ideal of Nibelung loyalty still counts more than the desire for knowledge.

—p.70 by Peter Schneider
uncertain
3 years, 1 month ago
72

West German leftists spared themselves the shock that French intellectuals felt on reading Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago; instead, they put their energies into an angry critique of French shortsightedness. They themselves, however, never really abandoned the discretion they had long practiced in describing Stalin's camps as a "mistake." When the word "crime" was finally uttered, they avoided the debate and sought refuge in equivocations: "Yes, but on the other hand ..." Ther referred to "the by no means insignificant crimes of Stalinism," or "the model Cuban revolution, despite its persecution of homosexuals," or "the by no means easy fate of dissidents." They managed to dodge every challenge to their worldview by pointing out that the Soviet Union was under siege, and by quoting Brecht: "The escape from capitalist barbarism may entail some barbarism of its own."

—p.72 by Peter Schneider 3 years, 1 month ago

West German leftists spared themselves the shock that French intellectuals felt on reading Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago; instead, they put their energies into an angry critique of French shortsightedness. They themselves, however, never really abandoned the discretion they had long practiced in describing Stalin's camps as a "mistake." When the word "crime" was finally uttered, they avoided the debate and sought refuge in equivocations: "Yes, but on the other hand ..." Ther referred to "the by no means insignificant crimes of Stalinism," or "the model Cuban revolution, despite its persecution of homosexuals," or "the by no means easy fate of dissidents." They managed to dodge every challenge to their worldview by pointing out that the Soviet Union was under siege, and by quoting Brecht: "The escape from capitalist barbarism may entail some barbarism of its own."

—p.72 by Peter Schneider 3 years, 1 month ago
77

I've already admitted the validity of such an argument: the failure of an experiment doesn't necessarily disprove its premises. You don't have to doubt Mozart because Igor Oistrakh plays him badly. But when every virtuoso makes the same piece sound bad, you have every right to suspect the composer. The flat assertion that present-day socialism in no way detracts from the theory ultimately amounts to intellectual shirking. It may be reassuring, but it only avoids the problem of deciding which components of the theory will sink with the wreck of socialism and which might still be salvaged.

[...] what if the catastrophic economic failure of socialism today were due not only to a lack of democracy but also the suppression of private ownership? That would certainly challenge a central piece of the doctrine. Doesn't it look as though events have proven our worst enemies correct? Doesn't it seem these days that history itself has judged the duel between socialism and capitalism, and declared capitalism the winner? And isn't this winner now commanding from the mount: Thou shalt have no other social system besides me!?

i don't really agree with his negativity but he makes some good points, worth thinking about

—p.77 by Peter Schneider 3 years, 1 month ago

I've already admitted the validity of such an argument: the failure of an experiment doesn't necessarily disprove its premises. You don't have to doubt Mozart because Igor Oistrakh plays him badly. But when every virtuoso makes the same piece sound bad, you have every right to suspect the composer. The flat assertion that present-day socialism in no way detracts from the theory ultimately amounts to intellectual shirking. It may be reassuring, but it only avoids the problem of deciding which components of the theory will sink with the wreck of socialism and which might still be salvaged.

[...] what if the catastrophic economic failure of socialism today were due not only to a lack of democracy but also the suppression of private ownership? That would certainly challenge a central piece of the doctrine. Doesn't it look as though events have proven our worst enemies correct? Doesn't it seem these days that history itself has judged the duel between socialism and capitalism, and declared capitalism the winner? And isn't this winner now commanding from the mount: Thou shalt have no other social system besides me!?

i don't really agree with his negativity but he makes some good points, worth thinking about

—p.77 by Peter Schneider 3 years, 1 month ago
79

Heroes prefer self-quotation to self-doubt. Their self-righteousness displaces productive curiosity about how and why they once thought differently, maybe even incorrectly. [...]

good quote. context: writers who change their mind and pretend they had felt the same way the whole time? I think? Not entirely sure. He spends the next few pages railing against Stephan Hermlin, whom he accuses of doing this

—p.79 by Peter Schneider 3 years, 1 month ago

Heroes prefer self-quotation to self-doubt. Their self-righteousness displaces productive curiosity about how and why they once thought differently, maybe even incorrectly. [...]

good quote. context: writers who change their mind and pretend they had felt the same way the whole time? I think? Not entirely sure. He spends the next few pages railing against Stephan Hermlin, whom he accuses of doing this

—p.79 by Peter Schneider 3 years, 1 month ago
88

Civic courage is not a valid means of evaluating literature: was Kafka the citizen a brave man? Was Goethe, Benn, or Brecht? When has a man like Schirrmacher ever shown any courage? Anyone who invokes this trait must expect to be challenged in turn. [...]

good quote, relevant to my kill-your-heroes post. the rest of this paragraph is about Christa Wolf, whom the author thinks should be reproached as a citizen but lauded as an artist

—p.88 by Peter Schneider 3 years, 1 month ago

Civic courage is not a valid means of evaluating literature: was Kafka the citizen a brave man? Was Goethe, Benn, or Brecht? When has a man like Schirrmacher ever shown any courage? Anyone who invokes this trait must expect to be challenged in turn. [...]

good quote, relevant to my kill-your-heroes post. the rest of this paragraph is about Christa Wolf, whom the author thinks should be reproached as a citizen but lauded as an artist

—p.88 by Peter Schneider 3 years, 1 month ago
90
  1. We probably cannot ascribe the failure of this massive seventy-year experiment in socialism exclusively to Stalinism and the lack of democracy. What has happened appears to refute the utopian notion that masses of people in the industrial age can work creatively over long periods of time for a loftier purpose than self-interest.

  2. Even after 300,000 years, it's still difficult to generalize about human nature. Evidently we must reject the idea that socially undesirable tendencies like egoism, greed for private property, exploitation, aggression, racial hatred, and nationalism can be attributed to the relations of production under capitalism and can therefore be eliminated by changing those relations. Such "flaws" are clearly as human as the sense of justice, the notion of solidarity, and the willingness to help others--though both "good" and "bad" qualities may be weakened or strengthened through socialization. Only a dictatorship could "prove" the thesis that socially undesirable qualities are not part of human nature, but the result of sabotage and infiltration by enemies and traitors.

  3. The doctrine of socialism is not scientific but utopian. "Scientific socialism" distinguishes itself from other doctrines of salvation by claiming to describe objective laws of history. It asserts that "scientific insight" alone--not faith--is needed to enter into the earthly paradise of communism. Yet it requires terror and dictatorship to support its so-called laws of history, to show how humankind has inexorably moved toward a socialist utopia.

  4. The socialist utopia is, without a doubt, a product of the contradictions of capitalism. The outrages of capitalism have not been resolved since Marx and Engels; in fact, they have worsened dramatically and on a global scale. Little is likely to remain of the "scientific" system called socialism, but of the anger and the criticism, the social and humanistic ideals that inspired Marx's revolutionary teachings, almost all.

  1. I don't agree with this out of principle, and I also don't see him offering him any evidence for this. You could equally well ascribe the failure to unchecked, brutal totalitarianism, which is what I would personally believe.

  2. Sure, this is true to some degree--it's not that capitalism itself has created these vices out of thin air. The more nuanced truth that I think he's missing is that while no social system can completely suppress or manufacture human nature, there are still social systems that are better than others. Specifically, capitalism is one that enhances and supports certain negative traits like greed and exploitation, while suppressing solidarity and (often) justice. A different social system--one not founded on the premise of controlling other human beings through the endless accumulation of capital--might still be imperfect, but it would still be better. This relates to my ideas on systems.

  3. Yeah I agree with this. Scientific insight has really nothing to do with it imo.

  4. It's true that the idea of socialism was born from of the idea of capitalism. I'm not sure what the rest of his point is here, though.

—p.90 by Peter Schneider 3 years, 1 month ago
  1. We probably cannot ascribe the failure of this massive seventy-year experiment in socialism exclusively to Stalinism and the lack of democracy. What has happened appears to refute the utopian notion that masses of people in the industrial age can work creatively over long periods of time for a loftier purpose than self-interest.

  2. Even after 300,000 years, it's still difficult to generalize about human nature. Evidently we must reject the idea that socially undesirable tendencies like egoism, greed for private property, exploitation, aggression, racial hatred, and nationalism can be attributed to the relations of production under capitalism and can therefore be eliminated by changing those relations. Such "flaws" are clearly as human as the sense of justice, the notion of solidarity, and the willingness to help others--though both "good" and "bad" qualities may be weakened or strengthened through socialization. Only a dictatorship could "prove" the thesis that socially undesirable qualities are not part of human nature, but the result of sabotage and infiltration by enemies and traitors.

  3. The doctrine of socialism is not scientific but utopian. "Scientific socialism" distinguishes itself from other doctrines of salvation by claiming to describe objective laws of history. It asserts that "scientific insight" alone--not faith--is needed to enter into the earthly paradise of communism. Yet it requires terror and dictatorship to support its so-called laws of history, to show how humankind has inexorably moved toward a socialist utopia.

  4. The socialist utopia is, without a doubt, a product of the contradictions of capitalism. The outrages of capitalism have not been resolved since Marx and Engels; in fact, they have worsened dramatically and on a global scale. Little is likely to remain of the "scientific" system called socialism, but of the anger and the criticism, the social and humanistic ideals that inspired Marx's revolutionary teachings, almost all.

  1. I don't agree with this out of principle, and I also don't see him offering him any evidence for this. You could equally well ascribe the failure to unchecked, brutal totalitarianism, which is what I would personally believe.

  2. Sure, this is true to some degree--it's not that capitalism itself has created these vices out of thin air. The more nuanced truth that I think he's missing is that while no social system can completely suppress or manufacture human nature, there are still social systems that are better than others. Specifically, capitalism is one that enhances and supports certain negative traits like greed and exploitation, while suppressing solidarity and (often) justice. A different social system--one not founded on the premise of controlling other human beings through the endless accumulation of capital--might still be imperfect, but it would still be better. This relates to my ideas on systems.

  3. Yeah I agree with this. Scientific insight has really nothing to do with it imo.

  4. It's true that the idea of socialism was born from of the idea of capitalism. I'm not sure what the rest of his point is here, though.

—p.90 by Peter Schneider 3 years, 1 month ago