Advertisement

“Good Nations” and “Bad Nations”: Critical Theory, Judgement and the Naturalisation of Memory

  • David M. Seymour
Article

Introduction

This essay investigates the connections between representations of the Holocaust within public memory and within critical theory. It argues that far from offering a critique of that memory, critical theory unwittingly replicates many of its assumptions. This replication appears through acceptance of the assumed distinction between the “good nations” of Western Europe and the “bad nations” of Eastern Europe; those nations who have been remembered as unwilling collaborators, and those deemed more willing, respectively.

The essay is organised in the following way. First, turning to the question of “public memory” of the Holocaust, I outline the distinctions within it between “West” and “East” Europe; between “good nations” and “bad nations”. Secondly, through discussing contemporary critical theoretical accounts of the Holocaust, I show how such accounts, far from challenging these elements of memory, reinforce them further. At the centre of this reinforcement is a marked...

Keywords

Critical Theory Body Politic Good Nation Mass Murder Mass Killing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. 1.
    Adorno, Theodor W. 1973. Negative Dialectics (trans: Ashton, E.B.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Agamben, G. 1998. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (trans: Daniel Heller-Roazen). Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Agamben, G. 2000. Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive (trans: Daniel Heller-Roazen) New York: Zone Books.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Agamben, G. 2005. State of Exception (trans: Kevin Attell) Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Arendt, H. 1964. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. New York: Viking Press.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bauman, Z. 1987. Legislators and Interpreters. Oxford: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bauman, Z. 1991. Modernity and the Holocaust. Oxford: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bauman, Z. 1991. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Browning, Christopher R. 1998. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Engel, D. 2009. On reconciling the histories of two chosen people. American History Review 114(4): 914–929.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fine, R. 2009. Fighting with phantoms: A contribution to the debate on antisemitism in Europe. Patterns of Prejudice 43(5): 459–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Fine, R., and Hirsh, D. The decision to commit a crime against humanity. In Rational Choice Theory: Resisting Colonization, ed. Archer, M., and Tritter, J. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Foucault, M. 2003. Society Must be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 19751976, ed. Mauro Bertani, and Alessandro Fontana (trans: David Macey). London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Goldhagen, Daniel J. 1997. Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. London: Abacus.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Habermas, J. 1998. The Inclusion of the Other: Studies in Political Theory, 105–106. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Judt, T. 2008. The problem of evil in Postwar Europe. New York Review of Books.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Laqueur, W. 2006. The Changing Face of Antisemitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lyotard, Jean-Francois. 1988. The Differend: Phrases in Dispute. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nagorski, A. 1994. Schindler’s list and the Polish Question. Foreign Affairs 73(4 Jul/Aug 1994): 152.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Rose, Paul Lawrence. 1993. German Question/Jewish Question: Revolutionary Antisemitism from Kant to Wagner. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Seymour, David M. 2007. Law, Antisemitism and the Holocaust. London: Glasshouse Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Snyder, T. 2010. What We Need to Know About the Holocaust. New York Review of Books.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Snyder, T. 2010. Bloodlands, London: The Bodley Head.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Zuroff, E. 2005. Eastern Europe: Anti-semitism in the wake of holocaust-related issues. Jewish Political Studies Review 17: 1–2.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law, Lancaster UniversityLancasterUK

Personalised recommendations