Modernity and the Holocaust

Front Cover
Cornell University Press, 2000 - History - 267 pages
16 Reviews
A new afterword to this edition, "The Duty to RememberóBut What?" tackles difficult issues of guilt and innocence on the individual and societal levels. Zygmunt Bauman explores the silences found in debates about the Holocaust, and asks what the historical facts of the Holocaust tell us about the hidden capacities of present-day life. He finds great danger in such phenomena as the seductiveness of martyrdom; going to extremes in the name of safety; the insidious effects of tragic memory; and efficient, "scientific" implementation of the death penalty. Bauman writes, "Once the problem of the guilt of the Holocaust perpetrators has been by and large settled . . . the one big remaining question is the innocence of all the restónot the least the innocence of ourselves."Among the conditions that made the mass extermination of the Holocaust possible, according to Bauman, the most decisive factor was modernity itself. Bauman's provocative interpretation counters the tendency to reduce the Holocaust to an episode in Jewish history, or to one that cannot be repeated in the West precisely because of the progressive triumph of modern civilization. He demonstrates, rather, that we must understand the events of the Holocaust as deeply rooted in the very nature of modern society and in the central categories of modern social thought.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
7
4 stars
5
3 stars
4
2 stars
0
1 star
0

Bauman's writing style can be lengthy at times. - Goodreads
Insight into the Jewish persecution during WWII. - Goodreads
But, wow, the premise... - Goodreads

Review: Modernity and the Holocaust

User Review  - Beth - Goodreads

Kind of a tough read. But it really opened my eyes to the nature of society and humanity that I easily overlook or dismiss. I found much of it really relatable. Read full review

Review: Modernity and the Holocaust

User Review  - Sara Salem - Goodreads

Excellent book that shows the link between the Holocaust and the European Enlightenment. Bauman shows that the values and theories that emerged because of the Enlightenment are precisely what allowed ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction Sociology after the Holocaust
1
The Holocaust as the test of modernity
6
The meaning of the civilizing process
12
Social production of moral indifference
18
Social production of moral invisibility
24
Moral consequences of the civilizing process
27
Modernity Racism Extermination I
31
Some peculiarities of Jewish estrangement
33
Conclusions
111
Soliciting the Cooperation of the Victims
117
Sealing off the victims
122
The save what you can game
129
Individual rationality in the service of collective destruction
135
Rationality of selfpreservation
142
Conclusion
149
The Ethics of Obedience Reading Milgram
151

Jewish incongruity from Christendom to modernity
37
Astride the barricades
41
The prismatic group
42
Modern dimensions of incongruity
46
The nonnational nation
52
The modernity of racism
56
Modernity Racism Extermination II
61
From heterophobia to racism
62
Racism as a form of social engineering
66
From repellence to extermination
72
Looking ahead
77
The Uniqueness and Normality of the Holocaust
83
The problem
85
Genocide extraordinary
88
Peculiarity of modern genocide
93
Effects of the hierarchical and functional divisions of labour
98
Dehumanization of bureaucratic objects
102
The role of bureaucracy in the Holocaust
104
Bankruptcy of modern safeguards
107
Inhumanity as a function of social distance
155
Complicity after ones own act
157
Technology moralized
159
Freefloating responsibility
161
Pluralism of power and power of conscience
163
The social nature of evil
166
Towards a Sociological Theory of Morality
169
Society as a factory of morality
170
The challenge of the Holocaust
175
Presocietal sources of morality
179
Social proximity and moral responsibility
184
Social suppression of moral responsibility
188
Social production of distance
192
Final remarks
198
Afterthought Rationality and Shame
201
The European Amalfi Prize Lecture
208
Afterword to the 2000 Edition
222
Notes
251
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2000)

Zygmunt Bauman is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds.

Bibliographic information