Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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saw nothing of their victims, tended to speak exclusively of professional skill and performance; those on fighter-bomber missions had glimpses of people below and tended to have at least a slight inclination to explain or rationalize what they did; those who flew helicopter gunships saw everything and could experience the fear, horror, questioning, and guilt that was felt by groundpersonnel.125

This psychological benefit for perpetrators is what makes the high technology of destruction compatible with genocide. The progress is terrifying in connection with present nuclear-weapons stockpiles. Alternating ideological antagonisms between the United States and the Soviet Union are accompanied by embrace of nuclear weapons, even worship of them, by both powers as ultimate sources of “security” and of life-sustaining “power.” This pattern of "nuclearism"126 combines morally blind technicism with awed genuflection before all-powerful objects that can do what in the past only God could do: destroy the world.

No wonder, then, that Americans now take to playing little war games with rifles or individual automatic weapons; or join “survivalists” groups who buy land in isolated places, take regular target practice, and stock up on canned goods in order to ready themselves for the nuclear holocaust. Operating here is deep and violent nostalgia for the days when a man need only master the simplest technology, to protect himself and his family, as opposed to the technological genocide that shadows us all.127

One reason perpetrators of genocide can enlist many people for their project is that “belief in the decisive role of technique has … passed from the philosophers into the culture at large."128 In connection with evolving Nazi ideas, Theweleit has spoken of “the fascination of the machine” in suggesting how one could “live … without having any feelings” and make one’s body into a “steel form.” That “steel form” enables one to kill promiscuously and without pain.129  
Genocidal Bureaucracy 
Bureaucracy makes possible the entire genocidal sequence: organization, continued function, and distancing, numbing, and doubling of perpetrators.

Bureaucracy helps render genocide unreal. It further diffuses the impact of murderous events that, to begin with, are difficult to believe. In this sense we may say that the bureaucracy deamplifies genocide: diminishes the emotional and intellectual tones associated with the killing, primarily for perpetrator but also for bystanders* and victims. Central to the process is the dampening of language, the use not only of euphemisms (“resettlement” or “deportation” for killing) but also of certain code terms (“special treatment,” for instance) that are specific enough in designating murderous acts to maintain bureaucratic efficiency, even to  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
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