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On Concentration Camps, from Maps of Meaning

Here's Jordan Peterson on concentration camps, from Maps of Meaning pg. 343-345:

The invention, establishment and perfection of the concentration camp, the efficient genocidal machine, might be regarded as the crowning achievement of human technological and cultural endeavor, motivated by resentment and loathing for life. Invented by the English, rendered efficient by the Germans, applied on a massive scale by the Soviets and the Chinese, revivified by the Balkan conflict - perfection of the factory whose sole product is death has required truly multinational enterprise. Such enterprise constitutes, perhaps, the prime accomplishment of the cooperative bureaucratization of hatred, cowardice and deceit. Tens of millions of innocent people have been dehumanized, enslaved and sacrificed in these efficient disassembly lines, in the course of the last century, to help their oppressors maintain pathological stability and consistency of moral presumption, enforced through terror, motivated by adherence to the lie.

The very name has an uncanny aspect: horrifying, ironical, allegorical. Camp - that is summer sun and holiday, satirical comedy and masquerade, military rule, obedience and efficiency; death camp - the very devil's idea of a joke, of comp; black humor and vacation paradise; the dystopian state induced in reality by diligent pursuit of fantastic ideal, ideological purity, statist heaven on earth. Concentration camp - that is concentration of people in arbitrary association, restriction of movement and thought to a particular area; concentration of the processes of human life, distillation, reduction to essence, forcing attention to, concentration on, the central values underlying human endeavor.

The extreme nature of camp conditions appears merely to augment tendencies for behavior always present, under normal conditions; appears merely to exaggerate the expression of possibilities innately characteristic of the human soul.

Camp incarceration, in the typical case, begins with the fall, with arrest: unexpected, unjust, arbitrary, implacable and terrifying. The prisoner-to-be starts his involuntary descent into the underworld with his historically determined defenses intact, firmly embedded in his cultural context, entrenched in his persona - identified with his job, his social status, his view of the present, his hopes for the future. The initial intrusion of fate into this self-deceptive security occurs at night. Arrest takes place without warning, in the early hours of the morning, when people are easily frightened, dazed and less likely to offer resistance, more willing to cooperate, in their fear and naive hope - afraid for the security of their nervously gathered family, standing helpless in their household, at the mercy of state authority, in its most contemptible and repressive incarnation.

Arrest means instantaneous depersonalization, isolation from family, friends and social position. This forcibly induced shift of context removes, by design, all concrete reminders of group identity, all hallmarks of social hierarchy, destroys all previous ideals, undermines all goal-directed activity - exposes essential human vulnerability and subjects it to ruthless exploitation. The arrested individual is brutally stripped of every reminder of previous identity, his predictable environment, his conditional hope - left bereft even of his clothes and hair. He is treated with utmost contempt and derision, regardless of his previous social status. This complete destruction of social context, of social identity, heightens the newly arrested individual's sense of self-consciousness, of nakedness and vulnerability. This leaves him unbearably anxious, tremendously uncertain, miserably subject to a new and uncertain world - or underworld.

Mole Poblano

Mole Poblano