If you thought that author Sherman Alexie's views
on the Kindle were quintessential luddism, you haven't seen anything yet. Reader JonMontgo alerts us to a rather stunning opinion by novelist and poet Alan Kaufman who goes into full rant mode, calling Google Books and the Kindle to be the end result of Nazism
. It's hard to read this and not wonder if someone flipped a bit somewhere. He goes on and on, making wild cognitive leaps that have no basis in reality. The basic summary is that Nazis used "high tech" methods to more efficiently exterminate the Jews, and thus, pretty much any modern technology that hasn't been carefully reviewed to make sure it can only be used for good purposes, is a continuation of Nazi efforts. Furthermore, the Nazi's hated books, and thus, these new technologies are really designed to kill books, and claims that paper books are killing trees are simply propaganda from people trying to destroy books. Seriously. Here's just a bit:
Today's hi-tech propagandists tell us that the book is a tree-murdering, space-devouring, inferior form that society would be better off without. In its place, they want us to carry around the Uber-Kindle.
The hi-tech campaign to relocate books to Google and replace books with Kindles is, in its essence, a deportation of the literary culture to a kind of easily monitored concentration camp of ideas, where every examination of a text leaves behind a trail, a record, so that curiosity is also tinged with a sense of disquieting fear that some day someone in authority will know that one had read a particular book or essay. This death of intellectual privacy was also a dream of the Nazis. And when I hear the term Kindle, I think not of imaginations fired but of crematoria lit.
Now, to be sure, there are reasonable concerns about the electronic trail we leave in using technology. And there are concerns about who really "owns" the digital book you access, and how much control you have over it as well as how much data you send back. But comparing it to the Nazis and concentration camps? That goes way overboard. And yet, Kaufman hasn't just leapt off that board, he's done so gleefully, in great detail:
The Nazis often were, by their own lights, well-intentioned idealists working for a better tomorrow. And their instrument was modern technology, aspects of philosophical and aesthetic modernism and the old religious concept of supercession implicit in the Christian notion of progress. Jews were outmoded, useless, they said. Most high level Nazis, like Himmler or Heydrich or Eichmann, did not feel visceral hatred towards the Jew. Rather, they looked upon them coldly as something that simply needed to disappear so that the new life could get on its way. And the means by which they sought to do so was first through a propaganda campaign that portrayed Jews, in Wagnerian terms, as a drag on the visionary energies and bursting vigor of the new Aryan man, and then by the implementation of this decision to eliminate Jews through ever more sophisticated state corporate and scientific technological means. And yet, during the war crime trials at Nuremberg, while Nazi Jurisprudence was tried and hanged, Nazi technological attitudes were not put on trial.
The victorious Allies did not mandate that technology, which had been turned to such murderous ends, must pass an ethical standard review from an international body, like a UN of technology. No such body of decision came about. To the contrary, even while the war crime trials of Nazi chieftains were in session, American and Soviet governments were recruiting high-level Nazis to their intelligence services, military armaments industries, and space programs. So that, while in jurisprudence terms Nazi social and political values were delivered a blow, the Nazi fascination with technology merged seamlessly with that of their conquerors: us.
Normally, I would just call Godwin's Law
, and move on, but this is just beyond bizarre. Automatically assuming that all new high tech is a straight line from the Holocaust is just sickening and delusional beyond pretty much any level of standard luddism.