Societies: A Complex Web – Cultural Memory, Progression and Narrative Manipulation

Wesley M.

We’re currently in December 2021, over 76 years since the end of World War II, and of fascism within Europe. In reality Europe’s struggle against fascism never ended, the false narrative that fascism was eradicated was entirely because of the Allies victory, which created the belief that the fascists were gone forever, and that genocide would never be allowed to happen again. In reality, this was a complete hogwash for the masses as several genocides have occurred since 1945, and neofascists returned by undermining the developed societal narrative of progression within their countries through creating a counterpoint for the criticism of said progressive ideals and policies.

Societal narratives are about portraying an acceptable viewpoint, primarily that of the elite. The Dirk Moses articles points this out through his criticism of contemporary Germany not engaging with existing racism and their colonialist history. He points out that by creating the narrative of progress as well as repentance for the Holocaust after WWII, the reunified Germany is able to ignore much of its unpleasant past by making the countries seem more moral. By forming this narrative, the German state has also allowed for a kind of limit are to be placed on comparing other levels of crime to that one particular event all throughout Europe; with the Holocaust serving as a kind of yardstick for level of inhumanity and brutal horror, with differing genocides that occurred since being deemed un-comparable by the international community due to the belief that it any comparison demeans the overall Holocaust repentance narrative (Israel has particularly used that belief to their advantage to deflect any criticisms of their policies regarding Palestinians). Sadly countries reckoning with its past would as Professor Jennifer Evans points out, undermine or completely destroy any created narrative if a full accounting of any country’s past ever truly took place.

Any societal narratives or myth that is constructed simply refers to manipulation and a narrative that will allow the citizenry to be able to sleep at night (all societies either want to believe they have the moral high ground or at the very least that they are working on their way towards morality, when the fact is that every society has skeleton in the closet somewhere within its past; some unacknowledged unpleasantness or horrific event).

Any narrative that is created within a society is manipulated by default because it never shows the society as a whole, rather it can only portray a limited perspective: there will always be facets of that society that are missing from that shown perspective, it is unavoidable (as anyone who has ever seen an archive: there are always stories that are left out, archivists have to pick and choose as they can’t fit everything within). Despite this unpleasant reality, all countries should reckon with all of their past not just some of it, in order to be able to create a better society for all of their citizens.

Bibliography:

Evans, Jennifer. “Ends and Beginnings.” The New Fascism Syllabus (blog), June 16, 2021. https://newfascismsyllabus.com/opinions/ends-and-beginnings/.

Moses, Dirk. “The German Catechism.” The New Fascism Syllabus (blog), May 23, 2021. http://newfascismsyllabus.com/opinions/the-catechism-debate/the-german-catechism/.

Moses, Dirk. “Dialectic of Vergangenheitsbewältigung.” The New Fascism Syllabus. The New    Fascism Syllabus (blog), June 15, 2021. http://newfascismsyllabus.com/opinions/dialectic-of-vergangenheitsbewaltigung/.

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