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Something to Kill and Die For
Richard A. Koenigsberg
Nations Have the Right to Kill
Nations Have the Right to Kill: Hitler, the Holocaust and War

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“Richard Koenigsberg is an intrepid generator and disseminator of novel ideas regarding the psychodynamics of human violence and destructiveness, ideas that are startling all the more for being self-evident once they have been absorbed.” —Ruth Stein, New York University, author of For Love of the Father
“The author confronts the taken-for-granted world of nationalism and political realism, and makes them suddenly seem utterly peculiar and bizarre.” —Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
“Koenigsberg’s is a message that anyone with an interest in changing the course of human history should internalize and reflect upon.” —Lee Hall, JD
In order to make ourselves feel powerful rather than pathetic—we human beings like to use words like “violence” or “aggression” in relationship to warfare—as if this institution expresses a healthy animal instinct.

However, the essence of war is contained in the photo below: men as abject victims. Kahn suggests that warfare expresses or conveys a metaphysical impulse: desire to imagine there is something “up above”—to die and kill for.

Kahn calls this thing “the sovereign”—the entity in the name of which dying and killing occurs. This entity may be given the name “king” or “emperor” “nation” or “the people.”

Viewing the dead, mutilated bodies (see below), we imagine there must have been some thing that generated all of the sound and fury.

But these men died for no thing. Oh, perhaps they died in the name of Italy, or for the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, or for Great Britain or for France: things that we call nations. We believe so deeply in the existence of these entities.

With religious belief waning before the First World War, there was a profound need for a substitute. World War I was a “family affair:” one proved one was a member of the family of nations by sending one’s own young men to be slaughtered.

Australians fought a useless battle at Gallipoli, one of the most useless battles I’ve ever read about. Nonetheless, Australia came into being based on this battle.

Did the young men die in vain? The Allies lost the battle, but this was beside the point. The men died to show they would give their lives for their nation and its people. They sacrificed their lives, and were resurrected as “Australia.”

“The enemy and the conscript suffer the same threat and burden of physical destruction for the sake of making present sovereign power.”
Does it matter to which country these bodies belong? As long as there are dead and mutilated bodies. The First World War was waged to prove the existence of countries. It is nearly impossible to imagine that such monumental death and destruction was waged in the name of no thing. The war must have been waged in the name of some thing.
First World War Battlefield

From Paul H. Kahn, Sacred Violence

“The battlefield is strewn with the disemboweled and beheaded, with severed limbs and broken bodies. All have died a terrible death in a display of sovereign power. Viewing the battlefield from a certain distance, it is not even clear who is the object of sacrifice: the enemy and the conscript suffer the same threat and burden of physical destruction for the sake of making present sovereign power.”