This mindset is the root of things like the holocaust
Land 92 a lecturer in Continental Philosophy at Warwick University [Nick, “The thirst for annihilation Georges Bataille and virulent nihilism (an essay in atheistic religion”, Routledge, Print.]
Perhaps no one has betrayed life with the ardour he has, unless Bataille, or myself. Sade writes: Has an individual’s death ever had any influence upon the general mass? And after the loss of the greatest battle, what am I saying? after the obliteration of half the world—or, if one wishes, of the entire world— would the little number of survivors, should there be any, notice even the faintest difference in things? No, alas. Nor would Nature notice any either, and the stupid pride of man, who believes everything created for him, would be dashed indeed, after the total extinction of the human species, were it to be seen that nothing in Nature had changed, and that the star’s flight had not for that been retarded [S III 517]. This is a cold passage, lacking the resources of noxiousness with which his writings are usually so lavishly endowed. Its profound inhumanity is nevertheless beyond question. There is a particular scaling of death that is close to Sade, a numerical hypertrophy that tips orgy into massacre.Witnessing the unparalleled scenes of atrocitythat litter his stories one is horrified of course, but to recoil in horror is to succumb anxiously to an erotic attachment. Nor is this only a literary matter. However great the revulsion that can be felt in contact with a single corpse, especially when it is in an advanced state of decomposition, or marked with the traces of an ignoble extremity of agony (torture in particular), this is massively augmented—and not merely quantitatively—when one is confronted by heaps or mounds of corpses; the stacked remains of an ossuary, the human remnants from an extermination camp, piles of skulls, anonymous tangles of bodies in the Ugandan bush or at the edge of a Kampuchean paddy field. The corpse not as a lost person, but as a disintegrating clot in the depersonalized refuse of death. Sade’s writings are not without such images, but nor are the mass media of twentieth-century societies. It is only at the lip of such abysmal indignities, when bodies are vomited as faceless masses of Herakleitean dung, that one glimpses the filthy and senseless death one craves. Whatever the monstrosity of Sade, he does not point into Auschwitz; it is more true to suggest that he points out of it. Despite the peculiar desperation in our attempts to give a moral interpretation to the somatic shock induced by traces of the Nazi exterminations, our intellectual conscience remains offended by the sanctimonious inanities that ensue. We treat Hitler as a persuasive Satan, a figure that the church was unable to invent, in whom we vicariously live our evil (as if we were masturbating over a magazine). In the aggregate, our squalid separation from the victims gapes its stale complacency. Our lurch for innocence seals us against communion, and we are repulsed from the place where their fate is also ours, as if death itself has been soiled by their torments. That we are an ineliminably massacreable species of animal scarcely marks us. We engineer an apartheid of the dead. Partly this is due to the widespread dread of corpses, Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals prevalent in our societies. All of which elements are consigned by morality to the same howl-choked dungeon as desire, irresponsibility, and profound contact with the real. Our moral natures would complete the sanitization of the 1940s’ pogroms, contributing to the elimination of sprawling bodies, and of the problematic affects they provoke. We are even stupid enough to believe that between a KZ guard and a young Jew treading the edge of a death factory it is the latter who is most profoundly caged. The technical core of the final solution was not merely an apparatus for mass killings, but one that was also guided by the exigency of the utile disposal of corpses. We simplify out of anxiety when we conflate the mounds of emaciated bodies strewn about the camps at the point of their liberation—the bodies of those annihilated by epidemics during the collapse of the extermination system—with the reduced ash and shadows of those erased by the system in its smooth functioning. The uneliminated corpse is not a submissive element within this or any other ‘final solution’, but an impersonal resistance to it, a token of primordial community. The docility of the inert body is itself a fascist myth. The final solution is a myth and a fact; each of its traces being invested by complex libidinal forces. The lamp-shades made from human skin, the meticulously salvaged heaps of dentures and artificial limbs, the calm efficiency of the Nazi genocidebureaucrat: all are freely circulating tokens of powerful affect. None of these images is more extraordinarily wounding to our sense of cosmic order than the bars of soap made from the body fat of the exterminated, the transubstantiation of verminized flesh into an implement of hygiene; white, glistening, malleable, inert. The soporific words of the allied propaganda machinery, with their insistence on fascist filthiness, are paralysed in the throat. Here are purists; clean and dutiful men, and yet we would be more fastidious than they were?