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Nazismo e diritti degli animali

Nazism and the Right of Animals

Anno XXIII, n. 102, luglio-settembre 1988
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

The paper suggests that the experience of the genocide perpetrated by Nazism may be of decisive importance to those authors who have decided to approach the question of the non-human world ethically and theoretically. The experience was one of the utmost inhumanity and saw the need to assume a position in relation to death and the deliberate transformation of millions of men into resources for exploitation and raw materials for manipulation. For the first time in history, human beings were forced into the condition of non-humans and suffered all the different types of treatment non-humans do (they were transported in cattle wagons, they were explicitly intended to be killed, medical-scientific experiments were performed on them with the fastidious use of every part of their bodies). Indeed, in the final part of the genocide, Jews were discriminated on the basis of species rather than race. The fact that we see animals as our fellow creatures might derive obscurely from the experience of some common condition: in other words, from the discovery that animality itself is a condition rather than a fact of nature and that humanity too is a condition that has to be acknowledged and can never be guaranteed.
The consciousness that the forces of destruction are not outside us in members of other tribes but are actually at the centre of Western culture and civilization has dealt a mortal blow to the philosophy of progress and turned humanity into a single race. At this point, however, humanity—or rather, its moral vanguard—is beginning to feel uneasy about being a species in opposition to others. It is beginning to ponder upon whether its historical aptitude for the control and abuse of its own internal parts (i.e. other races), which culminated in the Nazi death camps, does not produce similarly mortal consequences in its relations with other species.