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Der erste Tote ist es, der alle mit dem Gefühl der Bedrohtheit ansteckt. Die Bedeutung dieses ersten Toten für die Entfachung von Kriegen kann gar nicht überschätzt werden. Machthaber, die einen Krieg entfesseln wollen, wissen sehr wohl, daß sie einen ersten Toten herbeischaffen oder erfinden müssen. Es geht nicht so sehr um sein Gewicht innerhalb seiner Gruppe. Es kann sich um jemand handeln, der von keinem besonderen Einfluß ist, manchmal ist es sogar ein Unbekannter. Es kommt auf seinen Tod an, und sonst nichts; man muß glauben, daß der Feind die Verantwortung dafür trägt. Alle Gründe, die zu seiner Tötung geführt haben könnten, werden unterschlagen, bis auf den einen: er ist als Angehöriger der Gruppe, der man sich selber zurechnet, umgekommen.
It is the first death which infects everyone with the feeling of being threatened. It is impossible to over assess the role played by the first dead man in the kindling of wars. Rulers who want to unleash war know very well that they must procure or invent a first victim. It need not be anyone of particular importance, and can even be someone unknown. Nothing matters except his death; and it must be believed that the enemy is responsible for this. Every possible cause of his death is suppressed except one: his membership in the group to which one belongs oneself.
–Elias Canetti, Masse und Macht vol. 1, p. 152 (1960)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Average duration of a Japanese prime minister’s tenure since August 1993, in months:
Brain shrinkage has no effect on cognition.
An Indianapolis fertility doctor was accused of using his own sperm to artificially inseminate patients, and a Delaware man pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing his former psychiatrist.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”