“Karma Is Not a Jest”

We may try to pretend, and rationalize, the German approach witnessed in the 20th Century and its impacts, both internally and externally, as something that is confined to Germany somehow and that the rest of humanity did not share responsibility for what occurred.  This however would be a false reading of history and thus, a misleading conclusion to draw from the experience.  The Germans, with their systematic and logical minds, took the concepts that underpinned their actions to extremes, but they did not invent these ideas.  They have shown us the falsity of these ideas in the very attempt to carry them out with a completeness and finality that was not easily visible to us previously.  Witness the genocidal actions of the Americans towards the First Nations people of the North American continent, the “smallpox blankets”, the decimation of the buffalo, and the driving of the First Nations’ people along a “trail of tears” to desolate and barren lands so that the Americans could fulfill their “manifest destiny”.  Witness the harsh subjugation of India by the British, or the use of opium to try to subjugate the Chinese by these same British empire-builders, or the Christian Crusades into the Middle East and the torture, rape and pillage that occurred as elements of those crusades, and the European/American exploitation of resources and the slave trade and its horrific impact on Africa and Africans as just a few examples in history that show the Germans were not a unique case without precedents.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The theory of inferior and decadent races was loudly proclaimed by other than German thinkers and has governed, with whatever assuaging scruples, the general practice of military domination and commercial exploitation of the weak by the strong;  all that Germany has done is to attempt to give it a wider extension and more rigorous execution and apply it to European as well as to Asiatic and African peoples.  Even the severity or brutality of her military methods or of her ways of colonial or internal political repression, taken at their worst, … was only a crystallising of certain recent tendencies towards the revival of ancient and mediaeval hardheartedness in the race.  The use and even the justification of massacre and atrocious cruelty in war on the ground of military exigency and in the course of commercial exploitation or in the repression of revolt and disorder has been quite recently witnessed in the other continents, to say nothing of certain outskirts of Europe.  From one point of view, it is well that terrible examples of the utmost logic of these things should be prominently forced on the attention of mankind; for by showing the evil stripped of all veils the choice between good and evil instead of a halting between the two will be forced on the human conscience.  Woe to the race if it blinds its conscience and buttresses up its animal egoism with the old justifications; for the gods have shown that Karma is not a jest.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 5, True and False Subjectivism, pg. 53

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