Finkelstein's background

Brad De Long delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU
Tue Aug 29 11:23:10 PDT 2000

>Brad De Long wrote:
>>But this variant of cheap relativism is not held by G, whose view
>>is that Nazi-era Germans were very different from us *and* *they*
>>*were* *bad*--*bad* *in* *every* *possible* *way*.
>Yes, we Americans are so saintly. Three million dead Indochinese?
>Just a little overzealous police action. A million dead Iraqis? The
>price is worth it, says our Secretary of State. Slavery and
>genocide? Ancient history, of no relevance to us. Because we're
>Americans, God's other chosen people.

I think you're talking to somebody else...

My view has been that Goldhagen's biggest flaw is his widening of the gap between the Nazi regime and other regimes. It's my view that if authority figures tell adolescent males with guns to shoot people, they shoot people--that you don't need a complicated and unique German *sonderweg* to explain this: it happens not just with Germans and Jews but with Americans and Vietnamese peasants, Communist cadres and kulaks, NKVD agents and old Bolsheviks or "wreckers," Hutus and Tutsis, Khmer Rouge and Cambodians who wear eyeglasses, and Yale students who think they control the magnitude of an electric shock administered to another human being.

Goldhagen's view of Nazi Germany as somehow special--rather than the most extreme example of a more general 20th century phenomenon of large scale genocide--seems to me to be the biggest flaw in _Hitler's Willing Executioners_, and the root of most of what is wrong with the book.

Brad DeLong

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