Apathy & Atrocity

‘I said Susan Sontag’s principal gifts to our civilization were not that easily packaged, but were a brilliant, non-stop commentary on contemporary art practices and their effects on our emotions. She did get off one sound bite in an interview on television, which was to me a stunning sermon in and of itself. She was asked what she had learned from the Holocaust, and she said that 10 percent of any population is cruel, no matter what, and that 10 percent is merciful, no matter what, and that the remaining 80 percent could be moved in either direction.’

-Kurt Vonnegut

Quite often now I feel a greasy, slippery, queasy ghost of a feeling, like the ‘someone stepping over your grave’ saying is meant to impart. And this feeling, this feeling is about the people around me, the public, the people who are letting this happen, the people who historically would have been the ‘good Germans’. Stand in the street, look around at the people around you, what are they doing to be engaged in democracy and fight this criminal regime, mostly I fear they are doing nothing. They might read the odd newspaper or read/hear news, making them all prey to the manufacturing of neoliberal consent. Possibly the least aware people are the ones who do costume a lot of media thinking the BBC, The Times or Guardian and Channel Four, BBC Radio Four present to them an unvarnished truth. Or the weekly pantomimes of PMQ’s and BBCQT.

I don’t think people are ‘bad’ but that in such a highly sophisticated environment where ideological messaging appears on every surface, every device, every item of clothing even, most are not doing the due diligence to counter the power of hegemony. So the queasy pondering asks: who amongst these strangers passing me would stand up and say no to the others who would load us into cattle trucks and put us in camps? EXCEPT there will be no camps no mass solution, no obvious singular moment that it becomes obvious. We are killed in atomised neglect, each person’s means to live taken away via multiple bureaucratic tortures and we become hopeless, homeless, income less and lifeless. Bureaucratic tortures that incidentally are performed by humans with bills to pay, locked into a network of debt they must service, ‘a job’.

So not even a noticeable thing to oppose but a long drawn out process of democide that would require a lot of work by people to identify and oppose, so what hope the person in the street with their own worries and entertainments? Hmmm. Historically the atrocity has to happen before things can get better, which is not so great news for the targets of the atrocity.