The two nation groups principally responsible for the onset of the violence and destruction were Japan and Germany. A similarity between the cultural world-view of those two nations existed that is rarely discussed or mentioned. That is of the "Master Race" delusion shared by both many Germans and many Japanese. The German Nazis considered their sort of folks to be superior to all others and the Japanese militarists considered their brand of human animals to be the best of the bunch.
The Japanese version:
|We're superior to everyone else! (Hideki Tojo)|
|We're superior to everyone else! (Adolph Hitler)|
Obviously had those two groups been victorious, they might have had some things to argue about regarding their status of superiority. But, they weren't victorious and each moment creates more distance in time from their peculiar notions of a "Master race".
Or does it?
Well, actually no. This sort of psychopathic thinking continues today with groups associated with "white supremacy" notions. Thankfully these are 'fringe' groups and apparently attract a relatively small number of followers.
A much larger number of followers ascribe to another psychopathic notion, that of species supremacy. The "Master Species", if you will.
Indeed, if you look at the various "isms" associating with proclaiming and maintaining the 'superiority' of one group over another you find this theme over and over..."since I'm better to and superior to you, I should be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want and to treat beings that don't belong to my group any way I want. I can exploit them, torture them or kill them and be perfectly right and justified in doing so. My wants/needs should always come first in any situation." Elements similar to this are present in racism, sexism, ageism and on and on and on. "Me first and you...since you aren't like me...well...you get what I choose."
Speciesism is just a variant of this sad state of self-serving destructive silliness, this elevation of the human animal above all other animals is sometimes referred to as human exceptionalism. Somehow, because of how we are, we human animals have decided we are superior to all other animals and have the right to do to those 'lesser' beings whatever we want.
Whenever we see individual human animals thinking and behaving this way...we quickly recognize the danger and the pathology. Whenever we see groups of human animals thinking and behaving this way...we more slowly but eventually recognize the pathology and the danger. Apparently when the bulk of human animals think and behave this way...we have an enormously difficult time recognizing the pathology and danger. It's almost as if we are so immersed in it that we are unable to see it for what it is. Stupid, erroneous, foolish and destructive is what thinking this way is...but the victims of this monstrous insanity have no human voice... and the death and horror just rolls along...with little or no comment or recognition. Some object, some condemn but the numerical difference between the perpetrators or aiders and abettors and those who sound the alarm is 99 to 1.
It is curious how fairly easily we are able to identify thinking or behaving in an individual that is bizarre and dangerous...but disseminate the same strangeness to bunches of individuals...then somehow our perception and identification of dangerousness breaks down. Especially if we happen to belong to such a group.
If bizarre notions have been presented to us since birth their identification becomes more problematical. Other factors that may serve to disguise bizarreness and decrease our critical ability include the notions offering some reward for us or if the bizarre notions flatter us or if the bizarre notions elevate our status or if the bizarre notions give us reasons for our problems.
There are extensive writings on the causes of the "Final Solution" that Germany called their attempts to try to eradicate Jewish people and other people deemed "undesirable". There aren't nearly as many sources that examine the behavior of the Japanese prior to and during WWII. This isn't because they weren't destructive, but partially because here in the west we tend to focus on countries and groups participating in western 'civilization' and to be much more ignorant about groups using other 'civilization' traditions and worldviews. Another reason is that the Japanese did not engage in the systematic and bureaucratized and horrific imprisonment and slaughter of millions. Their violence and destruction was less systematized and pervasive when compared to the Germans...but who the hell knows what they would have done in the future had they not been defeated and what they did do was horrific enough.
Our behavior toward the other animals has and is often compared to the behavior of the Nazis toward the 'undesirables'. Numerous books are available that explore these similarities and here is a superlative photographic essay that expounds on this comparison.
Many of us are familiar with the quote from the Nobel prizewinner Isaac Bashevis Singer, who wrote: "In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka."
Others object to such comparisons. For instance Roberta Kalechofsky wrote: "....I objected to this use of the Holocaust... The agony of animals arises from different causes from those of the Holocaust. Human beings do not hate animals. They do not eat them because they hate them. They do not experiment on them because they hate them, they do not hunt them because they hate them. These were the motives for the Holocaust. Human beings have no ideological or theological conflict with animals."
What she writes may be true, but whether someone hates or someone is indifferent...the fact is if a being that is hated or a being that elicits indifference is a being that the hater or the indifferenter feels superior to, feels more powerful than, feels unconstrained by rules in terms of dealing with them...then the being hated and/or the being toward whom indifference is felt...is at tremendous risk of being horribly treated. Here, at this point, is where the Nazi mindset and the mindset of the average human animal converge...this notion of superiority...this "Master Race" mentality...this "Master Species" mentality.
These two photos of beings transported against their will to their places of death are too similar to be dismissed.
|An innocent being, condemned by those who say they are "superior".|
|Innocent beings, condemned by those who say they are "superior".|
I think Henry Beston expressed a truth about our fellow animals that rings and resonates with accuracy and clarity when he wrote "...They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."
We are citizens of Earth, as are all the other living beings. We are not superior, we are not inferior, they are not superior, they are not inferior...they are just trying to get by and they owe us nothing...we, however, owe them the right to be left alone to be themselves.
Living as an ethical vegan is a requirement in order to follow the path of leaving them alone...and of avoiding the superiority/inferiority delusion.