Locke and Concentration Camps

Locke, of course, talked about the state of nature and the obligation of rulers to be beneficent trustees. The twentieth-century concentration/extermination camps were the antithesis of this ideal. No human event or tragedy so contradicts the major premises of John Locke. In the concentration camps, there was betrayal of the trust to take care of politically defined prisoners. Jews had a right to revolt out of sheer biological necessity to survive as a group.

In this state of lawless nature, there is no adjudicator of disputes except pure violence. In this kind of extreme situation, there is every right to kill the unjust ruler. In fact, it is a duty. The Nazis were criminals who committed genocide. Locke believed in proportionate punishment for criminals. But how do you avenge mass murder where eight thousand people a day were gassed at Auschwitz? The bonds between men defining common humanity as handed down by the Enlightenment broke down completely. Conscience apparently took a leave of absence.

Of course, the Nazis violated their trusteeship because they were iniquitous men. To have your human rights, you need power to fight unjust power because you cannot naturally claim an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness if enemies of mankind entertain nihilistic, destructive anti-values about life. In these extreme situations, to execute a judgment about your natural rights you need to be as violent as the perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Concentration camps are different from plantations and the slave trade because the Jews had no market or human value; the slave always had value for his labor power. Nonetheless, Africans were in a state of nature/war and had every right to kill their masters.

Again, the National Socialists were trustees who never had a social contract with the Jews but had power solely by the criminal use of force. This force manifested itself in the Final Solution because Jews were considered nonpersons, stateless sub-humans. This exemplified a biopolitically generated racism. The trustees became tyrants in a lawless state of nature in which they declared war on civilized mankind.

Of course, the Jews had the right to resist; they were exterminated because, friendless and without a territory, they could not mount a counterforce to neutralize the Nazi monopoly on the means of violence. It is inexplicable why the Nazis behaved so barbarically and the Jews so passively. There were no reasons of state served by biopolitically motivated mass murder. The genocide originated in the bad will of Hitler and the German people.

There were Righteous Gentiles who helped the Jews. We will use the example of Oskar Schindler, because he is so well known.

In general, these people were not religious and often did not have conventional moral codes. There is a will to power to impose their version of what they consider fair play in the chaos of war. In extreme situations, there are clear choices between good and evil, although most people opt to be indifferent to protect their own interests above all.

What factors motivate a person at great personal risk to help strangers in danger? There is enlightened selfishness in which you realize that a tyranny knowing no boundaries will consume all arbitrarily in the final analysis. Money can be a factor. So can moral sensibility when a righteous gentile feels outrage at blatant misconduct; your very manhood is at stake if you let plain evil triumph unchallenged.

Conscience plays a role, particularly through religious education in which you have absorbed the value of treating other people as you would have them treat you. There is a will to power in which individuals feel challenged to rise to the danger because they get a "rush" out of defying great odds in helping the helpless. So, a great ego is important. Too, these people tend to be unconventional and even may come from the criminal underworld. Above all, you need a capacity to empathize with others in being able to walk in their shoes. We call this compassion and moral behavior, indicating a highly developed sense of adulthood where your particular virtues are generalized to the world at large in an unbiased manner.

Abolitionists had a common profile with Righteous Gentiles. However, there was an ideological component in that the abolitionists were often concerned with nationalizing power and abolishing the institution of slavery legitimately by nullifying state power. They were not above using violence to achieve their ends. John Brown, in a sense, instigated the Civil War.


What is the racist profile?

There are several mechanisms to explain a racists' conduct: denial of their own shortcomings; projection of blame for society's problems on the weak others because they cannot accept personal responsibility for their own actions; rationalization of violent behavior to live with their own contradictions—blame the victim; repression of unpleasant thoughts and deeds to keep a good self-image; stereotyping the other as the epitome of evil to justify their own aggressive behaviors—dehumanizing and demonizing the helpless other; and the will to power to do evil for the sheer pleasure of it—sado-masochism. The behaviors of a racist are overdetermined insofar as several factors converge to explain irrational conduct.

What is the profile of the Righteous Gentile and abolitionist?

There is a will to power to create good out of chaos—a god complex; an element of enlightened selfishness occurs because self-interest dictates that in a tyranny all are at risk; conscience—people know right from wrong at heart; the capacity to empathize by walking in the shoes of others—see their humanity; gamesmanship—there is a "rush" entailed in defying the political order, even an evil one; and there is a messianic complex in which the individual enjoys being adulated as a superman/superwoman. Again, there is the mechanism of overdetermination insofar as several factors impinge upon an individual to activate his conduct.