A Circular Letter from Richard Koenigsberg of the Library of Congress ‘Collective’ in New York, 31 January 2022
A very brief contribution directly below from Michael Roberts, a great anthropologist/scholar coming out of Asia. He’s the webmaster of Thuppahi’s Blog, which contains fascinating essays and articles as well as original, vivid photographs. Among the pieces you can read on his website:
FROM MICHAEL ROBERTS: “Both Nazi Germany and imperial Japan were prime instances of the “Law of Sacrifice.” The fascist Japanese regime of the 1930s and 1940s inculcate[d] in the minds of the people the idea that all the Japanese, but especially the soldiers-to-be, must sacrifice their lives for their country (Ohnuki-Tierney 2006; page xiii). “You are nothing, your nation is everything,” (Koenigsberg 2009; page 13).
This leads Modris Ecksteins to the conclusion that in Nazi thinking the individual was the nation. The nation had been telescoped into the dynamic individual (1989; page 195, emphasis his).
From Richard K: In totalitarianism, Michael, the body politic gets into the body of the individual. It’s a psychosomatic phenomenon. The concept of “obedience to authority” only scratches the surface. Obedience is based on the fact that the nation or omnipotent object is internalized into the self (I discussed this with Cadell Last’s group a few days ago). The individual cannot resist the body politic that has become part of the self. It comes to be contained within the fibre of the person’s being.
And it’s not simply the imposition of the will of the leaders (the “left-wing” denial of reality). The “subjects” are mesmerized. “I want you, I need you, I love you” (Elvis Presley). As you say, the object becomes the self, and the self becomes the object. NO SEPARATION.
NO SEPARATION is the key concept in totalitarianism: no separation between the individual and the nation or culture or symbolic. SYMBIOTIC ENTANGLEMENT. A wish fulfillment, however painful and destructive it turns out to be.
Not that different from the “mass media” that infiltrate and contaminates the self: day after day after day. People can’t turn away from it (the abuse). “It’s a family affair. Nobody wants to be left out” (Sly and the Family Stone).
The abused child that refuses to separate from his mother. Better red than dead. Better dead than separate
On Wed, Feb 9, 2022 at 9:35 AM Helga Vierich <email@example.com> wrote:
Dear Richard: I feel guilty for the number of times I did not open one of your newsletters now. That will not happen very often in the future! If there was ever a critical time when your ideas need to be discussed, it is now. Let’s see how this develops. Helga Vierich.
Helga: We’ll set up a ZOOM session soon to discuss the ideas. I’m anxious to receive your input and insights before I go “on the road.” I’m reviewing your publications today to get a better idea of your own approach. Best, Richard K.
On Sat, Feb 5, 2022 at 9:19 AM <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
FROM RICHARD KOENIGSBERG: WHERE WE ARE NOW AND WHERE WE ARE GOING.
- I’ve stopped writing for and sending out issues of the LSS Newsletter as of eight weeks ago (as some of you who have received them in the past may have noticed). There are 15,000 people on my mailing list. Approximately 1500-2000 open each Newsletter/email. This has been satisfying to me—knowing there is a substantial audience for my ideas. What more, I knew who was reading what I wrote (the iContact mailing system provides this data). Prominent scholars were opening each Newsletter, some as many as 10-15 times per issue. My ideas were getting out into the world. Numerous authors have read and cited the ideas in the Newsletters.
- A partial archive of the Newsletters that have been distributed appears here.These Newsletters include essays and papers written by myself, issues presenting information on my company, LIBRARY OF SOCIAL SCIENCE BOOK EXHIBITS (e. g., announcements of conference book exhibits to publishers, promotion of clients/publishers’ books, announcements of other relevant books and conferences, etc.
- In addition, I published papers, articles, essays and lectures by specially selected authors. There is an archive of LSS Newsletters (essays and papers) authored by people other than myself here.I chose to publish these authors because I considered them some of the finest, most insightful scholars in the world writing on the themes of collective forms of violence. I am particular grateful for the contributions of Brian Crim, Kelly Denton-Borhaug, Liah Greenfield, Nicoletta Gullace, Michael McKinley, Adam Henry, Myra Mendible, Michael Roberts, Murray Schwartz, Tuomas Tepora, David Walker and David Weddle (among others), and especially to the authors listed directly below, each of whom contributed a substantial number of pieces, many of them authored especially for LIBRARY OF SOCIAL SCIENCE
- I also am indebted to SCOTT ATRAN for his contributions that have been distributed through the LSS Newsletter. Many of you have received a substantial number of his important essays and papers in the past few years (unfortunately, we have not had the opportunity to update our archive).
- Approximately 2500 Newslettershave been published beginning January 16, 2008, continuing through November 21, 2021. So, the pieces have been going out for over 13 years. I appreciate the support of those of you who have been reading the Newsletter. Just knowing that a substantial number of people were reading the Newsletter was satisfying. In my mind, my radical, disturbing hypotheses were becoming less radical and disturbing– simply by virtue of the fact that people were becoming conversant with them.
- Now I’m shifting directions—working to make my ideas available to a general public. I am creating a series of presentations I will present through YouTube, as Podcasts creating by other institutions and organizations, as podcasts created by LSS, and as radio broadcasts. We have done these broadcasts sporadically over through the years (I’m creating a list of them, which I will soon distribute). But my primary focus has been writing and distributing the Newsletter…focusing on sending them to a specially selected list of the world’s most prominent authors. Now I’m going outward, away from the protection and support of these top scholars.
- However, I’ve not weaned myself entirely from the “instant” gratification of conveying my ideas to colleagues. From the 15,000 people on my mailing list, I’ve selected 270 of you. If you are receiving this missive, you are one of these people. I’m focusing now on developing my presentations for a video audience, but I do feel the need occasionally to share my thinking with you.
- There’s risk going out into the world. I’m unable to block from my mind the image of Jordan Peterson getting spit upon when he presented ideas that certain students at a University did not agree with. What an ugly world of discourse now exists (as compared with the ideal of a “community of scholars” that I grew up with—in academia and elsewhere.
- I created a YouTube video with the author and speaker Robert Samuels. He’s a college Professor. He told me that in his classrooms it was often controversial to present facts—because they might disturb the students or violate their belief systems. What a strange world of academia! And of course in public life, it has become acceptable to make things up.They call this “lying,” but the dynamic goes far beyond this. Even the term “gaslighting” do justice to what occurs. Part of the culture consists of the shameless presentation of delusions as reality. Ah well, as an early Reggae song declared. “That’s the breaks, that’s the breaks…those are the breaks.”
I’m also doing a series of ZOOM sessions to test out my ideas that will constitute the foundation of my presentations— and to receive feedback. I did one recently with the composer and actor, Stephen Michaels, and it was extremely satisfying. To get feedback and be interacting at the same time one is speaking is gratifying and productive. When I write Newsletters, the audience is too distant and feedback sparse.
A new world is being born, where ideas are presented directly to an audience, without a vast space between the creation of the ideas and their presentation, e. g., writing a paper for a journal, and then waiting one year before (a few) people read it. This does not mean TWITTER, instant gratification, no serious scholarship, minimal ideas—but it means creating a closer relationship between presenting or uttering ideas—and receiving a reaction to the ideas. This is the direction in which I’m now moving.
Best regards, Richard K.