Anatomy of Collective Violence - When “Never Again” Happens Again and Again.

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Izabela SAKSON-SZAFRANSKA, University of Warsaw, Poland
The 20th century was marked by numerous acts of killing, such as crimes on a massive scale. For the most part, the perpetrators were't punished for their crimes. To add insult to injury, those acts were justified and rationalized by society. Genocide and others mass murders were deemed necessary for reasons of security, improvement of living conditions and other values defined by the existing social order. Towards the end of the 20th century mass violence was perpetrated in spite of the advent of human rights. The international community remained a passive observer at the sight of horror. It seems safe to assume that the present century will be no different.

Killing is nearly the very bottom of the moral evil. Is therefore surprising, the ease with which many passes to the agenda on contemporary conflicts, rolled by the Western countries. Wars, as such, should appear as paradigmatic evil, they're organized mass killing.

The Holocaust and other mass crimes weren't merely aberrations. Each time it was the new universe opening, whose boundaries were crossed. The pervasiveness of violence altering the surrounding universe is breaking cultural framework and exceeds the social taboo. After all the death of millions of people, no longer seems so impossible and terrible. Pretending that the most serious crimes were committed by barbarians’ - who's outside the universe of sanity and moral obligations -is in fact a simple way to repeat these crimes. People are prone to violence when they feel that to regulate certain social relationships imposing suffering or death is necessary, legitimate, etc. – it’s justified. Perpetrators not simply justify or rationalize their violent actions after the fact but usually reinterpret them (e.g. being a “patriot” motivated by “noble” motives). Emotions that guarantees the existence of social ties, can mobilize for collective acts of violence targeting "others".