Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Impure Manhattan : Pure Auschwitz

The German refiners' furnaces at Auschwitz ,Treblinka, Chelmno and at dozens of other death camps and concentration camps worked day and night, trying to burn off all the dross within the newly enlargened Third Reich, hoping to soon see only pure Aryan gold and silver.

I use terms from the Bible deliberately, because the Nazi ideas were hardly new or unique only to them - far from it.

Admittedly only one other Nazi client nation (Croatia) ran a similar 'gas and burn' purification-of-the-nation camp during WWII.

But before, during and after the war, many, many nations practised ethnic cleansing to purify their nation-states down to the gold and silver of one supposedly pure majority ethnic group cum 'race'.

Ethnic cleansing usually began with official discrimination against minorities in terms of education and employment opportunities but then moved on to deliberately planned murderous pogroms designed to frighten minorities to flee en masse outside the country, leaving most of their wealth and land to be divided as spoils among the ethnic majority.

Kicking out all minorities out might have worked back in the day when each little nation was a few hundred thousand people content with raising cattle and harvesting grain, but it hardly would ensure prosperity in an era of the globe-wide rapid exchange of new ideas and goods, brought upon by late 19th century modernization.

Little pure (pure as in group-think) Croatia was hardly going to be able to come up with all the skill sets and factories needed to make the way of life its envious members soon saw other more open economies enjoying.

Exclusion, the excluding of others' ideas and visions, was going to lead inevitably to mental stagnation and economic poverty.

Imperial exclusion only appeared to be the route to prosperity because it was a limited form of exclusion.

It excluded the top jobs to only the biggest ethnic groups running the overall imperial empire.

But those big ethnic groups represented a large nation with a large population and advanced technology, particularly military technology.

Their temporary prosperity came from their time-limited ability to enslave a much larger population of economic slaves from smaller or less advanced nations, before these slaves overthrew their imperial rulers.

But for the time being the whole empire tended to prosper, albeit unevenly, from a relatively free and wide exchange of ideas, cultures and resources : new school quasi-globalization within old school imperial empires.

In America, Manhattan's Upper East Side attempted to refine the 'boorish' taste of other Americans, but except for their foundation money fuelling eugenic study and anti-immigrant laws, one can hardly say they were murdering off America's dross to produce pure American gold along the Auschwitz plan.

After all, they might have tried to ram European opera down America's throat, but much of America liked polyglot Manhattan's black jazz and Jewish comics decidedly more.

Even after laws in 1924 and 1926 cut off most immigration, hundreds of thousands of outsiders still joined hundreds of thousands of insiders in flocking to Manhattan and the greater NYC area to seek out the various tastes and opportunities that only a highly 'impure' metropolitan centre could offer.

Among those insiders was Canadian Dr Henry Dawson - he loved living and working in and near 'impure' Manhattan --- and his efforts led to the production of the most of the world's wartime penicillin ('impure' natural penicillin as it happens) coming out of 'impure' Manhattan and environs.

His great rival, Dr Howard Florey, hated New York with a particular passion : too many Catholic Italians, Baptist Blacks and Jewish Jews.

He was always glad to retreat posthaste back to 'refined' Oxford University where he repeatedly tried and failed, along with the rest of the world's chemical establishment, to make 'gold and silver pure' synthetic penicillin.

But Dawson's dumb little impure fungus slimes proved far superior chemists to the best that the Aryan pure civilizations could think up.

In the end, Dawson's penicillin, 'Impure Manhattan', turned out to be the best possible life-affirming antidote to Auschwitz's death-dealing pure hate...

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