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Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination – Sam Keen.

August 17, 2015

FOTE 2I used to have a series of cartoons that the Nazis used to whip up prejudice against Jews. I used them as part of a scheme of work at Key Stage 4 about prejudice. They used the stock stereotypes e.g. long, hooked noses, fat well-fed and badly dressed business men etc. The use of stereotyped conceptions of Jews as lecherous old men seducing young Aryan women, of dirty Jewish butchers, unscrupulous Jewish lawyers, hard-hearted Jewish landlords, rich Jewish business men and their wives ignoring the poverty around them, all combined to create a hate-filled image of Jews. In one of these comic books, after providing such “evidence” of the despicable nature of Jews, three conclusions were provided: kicking their children out of German schools, prohibiting them from using public facilities, like parks, and then expelling them from the country. Those “reasonable” consequences that Nazis should create for Jews foreshadowed the more sinister ones of putting them all in ghettoes, then transporting them to concentration camps, and finally enacting the “final solution” of attempting mass genocide of the entire Jewish population.

Similar cartoons have been produced by racists such as the BNP, EDL and homophobes. Jack Chick tracts also do this.

FOTE 3 This book has 322 propaganda posters, biased cartoons, and hate-filled images that have appeared in print and on the screen to justify war and hatred of the enemy in a variety of historical contexts.

They prey on fear of ‘stranger danger’ and dehumanise the enemy so that his/her obliteration is seen as a good thing. The Nazis, for example, talked of vermin behind the skirting boards.

Our current government dehumanises refugees, using words like ‘swamped’ and ‘marauding’ and is outraged that BCC 1 did a Songs of Praise’ that showed them as humans with backstories and interviewed Christians seeking to treat them as human beings

The “archetypes of the hostile imagination” are divided into groups such as “The Enemy as Stranger,” “The Enemy as Aggressor,” as “Barbarian,” “Criminal,” “Tortured,” “Enemy of God,” “Rapist,” “Death,” “Worthy Opponent,” etc.

He then goes on to discuss the psychology of enmity and its future and believe that education and something akin to the United Nations (“effective world government and international law”) is our only solution.

Pacifists love this book. People who thi they are ‘sane’ and ‘normal’ say that it is starry-eyed nonsense that ‘threatens civilisation as we know it.’

FOTE Quotations:

We do in fact love or hate our enemies to the same degree that we love or hate ourselves. In the image of the enemy we will find the mirror in which we may see our own faces most clearly.

In the beginning we create the enemy. Before the weapon comes the image. We think others to death and then invent the battle-axe or the ballistic missiles with which to actually kill them. Propaganda precedes technology.

Consensual paranoia — the pathology of the normal person who is a member of a war-justifying society — forms the template from which all the images of the enemy are created. By studying the logic of paranoia, we can see why certain archetypes of the enemy must necessarily recur, no matter what the historical circumstances.

To Create An Enemy

Start with an empty canvas
Sketch in broad outline the forms of
men, women, and children.

Dip into the well of your own
disowned darkness
with a wide brush and
stain the strangers with the sinister hue
of the shadow.

Trace onto the face of the enemy the greed,
hatred, carelessness you dare not claim as
your own.

Obscure the sweet individuality of each face.

Erase all hints of the myriad loves, hopes,
fears that play through the kaleidoscope of
every finite heart.

Twist the smile until it forms the downward
arc of cruelty.

Strip flesh from bone until only the
abstract skeleton of death remains.

Exaggerate each feature until man is
metamorphasized into beast, vermin, insect.

Fill in the background with malignant
figures from ancient nightmares – devils
demons, myrmidons of evil.

When your icon of the enemy is complete
you will be able to kill without guilt,
slaughter without shame.

The thing you destroy will have become
merely an enemy of God, an impediment
to the sacred dialectic of history.

“limbolike category, to which we may assign any threat about which we do not wish to think clearly”

“a life predicated on being obedient and taking orders is a very comfortable life indeed. Living in such a way reduces to a minimum one’s need to think.”

“If there is one thing that the tragic wars of our time have taught us it is that the enemy has a ritual role to play by means of which evil is redeemed. All wars are conducted as ‘holy’ wars in the double sense then—as revelation of fate, a testing of divine favor, and as a means of purging evil from the world.”

“The problem seems to lie not in our reason or our technology, but in the hardness of our hearts. Generation after generation, we find excuses to hate and dehumanize each other, and we always justify ourselves with the most mature-sounding political rhetoric. And we refuse to admit the obvious. We human beings are Homo hostilis, the hostile species, the enemy-taking animal. We are driven to fabricate an enemy as a scapegoat to bear the burden of our denied enmity. From the unconscious residue of our hostility, we create a target; from our private demons, we conjure up a public enemy. And, perhaps, more than anything else, the wars we engage in are compulsive rituals, shadow dramas in which we continually try to kill those parts of ourselves we deny and despise.”

“War is always reactionary, a drama in which two or more parties, who feel themselves powerless to do anything except respond to the aggressive initiative of the other, seek to demonstrate their superior potency.”

If some incarnation of evil as unambiguous as Hitler appeared again, I would have no moral qualms about killing the enemy. But in the modern world of moral murkiness, I prefer to keep my hands as clean of enemy blood as possible.

Any depth understanding of the social function of war leads to the conclusion that it was the “good” Germans who created the social ecology that nurtured the Nazis.

It is not difficult to see the roots of the Nazi sadism in the normal methods of German child rearing. I recently did seminars in Germany and found that almost every one in my group had been beaten as a child.

Our enemies make nerve gas. So will we.
They squander their wealth on armaments. So will we.
They spy on their own citizens. So will we.
They prevent their people from knowing what they do. So will we.
We will not let our enemies impose their evil ways on us. We’ll do it for them.

“The first rule for discovering the treasure hidden in images of the enemy is this: Listen to what the enemy says about you, and you will learn the truth you have repressed. To come to greater self-understanding, borrowing the eyes of the alien, see yourself from afar. Let the familiar become strange and the strange familiar — the two rules of creativity. Look with suspicion on the rhetoric of your nation and listen with compassion to the reasons of the enemy . . . Repent. Change perspectives. Give your eye (your I) a vacation. Try on a different head. Turn your paranoia inside out; practice metanoia.”

“Unless we discover civility and create new institutions to tame our greed and gentle our anger, every advance in technology will bring us nearer to barbarism and cosmocide.”

“Our best hope for remaining human, and remaining alive for the generations it will require to convert our disposition toward hostility to a disposition toward kindness, is to devote the full energy of our imagination and will to finding a way to live in relative harmony with our neighbors. For the time being, it is good enough if we can manage to avoid unnecessary battles and to place limits on the weapons with which we keep each other hostage to terror. And when we must fight, it must not be as holy warriors but as deeply repentant men and women who are caught in the tragic conflicts of history that we have not yet had the vision, the will or the courage to change.”

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