Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Poisonous books

Often, on the Franco-German Arte TV channel, an entire evening is devoted to a particular theme. Last night, a pair of excellent documentaries, aired for the first time, tackled the theme of two poisonous books: Hitler's notorious Mein Kampf and an abominable fake entitled Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was a good idea for Arte to deal with the two books, one after the other, because they can be thought of as complementary specimens of poisonous trash. In a nutshell: Hitler's opus was a terribly veridical document, in that it offered a precise account of all the horrors that were about to be enacted. But retrospectively, one has the impression that the world at large failed to take the book or its author seriously... otherwise, steps would have surely been taken to curb Hitler's demoniacal dreams. On the other hand, the ugly thing called the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is exactly the opposite of a veridical document, since this book is a mindless fable. Curiously, though, hordes of silly people would still appear to be taking it seriously.

Once upon a terrible time, Hitler's My Combat was indeed a best-seller. Up until 1945, some 12 million copies had been in circulation. Today, the heritage of this literary and societal muck is characterized by two disturbing observations. First, the book is banned in Germany, as if the authorities were afraid that Hitler's ravings might still stir up Fascist enthusiasm. Second, it would appear that this antiquated book still has a significant readership in a nation that would like to become a member of the European Union. I'm referring to Turkey.

Click the image to see what Wikipedia has to say about this extraordinary and obnoxious fake document, which develops the crazy idea that planetary Jewry has been conspiring to take control of the world. Indeed, the Protocols might be considered as the grandaddy of all the conspiracy theories of the 20th century, right down to all the rubbish that has circulated concerning the events of 9/11.

A recent article in the excellent New York Times [display] drew attention to the fact that Putin has been favoring the Russian Orthodox church as a kind of unique Christian faith, at the expense of all others, particularly Protestants. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm quite happy to see that Putin's state apparatus aims to create a nice official kind of old-fashioned religious phenomenon, starring primarily, if not uniquely, the Orthodox church. Why not? This quaint time-honored image of saintly Russia will be good for tourism and public relations, not to mention foreign affairs of a political kind, and might help us to forget about Stalin. But things get more disturbing when we learn that the new generation of Russian ecclesiastics would appear to believe in, and propagate, the anti-Semitic shit promulgated by the Protocols... once authored by a Russian faker named Matvei Golovinski [1865-1920]. The circle is ignominiously closed.

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