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Little Eichmanns

From Wickepedia
Adolf Eichmann, typical German bureaucrat

"Little Eichmanns" is a term used to describe people whose actions, while on an individual scale may seem relatively harmless even to themselves, taken collectively create destructive and immoral systems in which they are actually complicit. The name comes from Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi bureaucrat who helped to orchestrate the Holocaust, but claimed that he did so without feeling anything about his actions, merely following the orders given to him.

The use of "Eichmann" as an archetype stems from Hannah Arendt's notion of the "banality of evil".[1] According to Arendt in her 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem, Eichmann relied on propaganda rather than thinking for himself, and carried out Nazi goals mostly to advance his career, appearing at his trial to have an ordinary and common personality while displaying neither guilt nor hatred. She suggested that this most strikingly discredits the idea that the Nazi war criminals were manifestly psychopathic and fundamentally different from ordinary people.[1][2][3]

The idea that Eichmann — or, indeed, the majority of Nazis or of those working in such regimes — actually fit this concept has been criticized by those who contend that Eichmann and the majority of Nazis were in fact deeply ideological and extremely anti-Semitic, with Eichmann in particular having been fixated on and obsessed with the Jews from a young age.[4] German political scientist Clemens Heni goes so far as to say the phrase "belittles the Holocaust".[5]

Barbara Mann wrote that the term was perhaps best known for its use by anarcho-primitivist writer John Zerzan in his essay Whose Unabomber? written in 1995, although it was already common in the 1960s,[6][7] as various prior examples are known.[8][9][10] It gained prominence in American political culture several years after the September 11, when a controversy ensued[11][12] over the 2003 book On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,[13] republishing a similarly titled essay Ward Churchill wrote shortly after the attacks.[14][15] In the essay, Churchill used the phrase to describe technocrats working at the World Trade Center:[16]

If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Larry Busk: Sleepwalker: Arendt, Thoughtlessness, and the Question of Little Eichmanns. In: Social Philosophy Today. 31. Jahrgang, 31. Juli 2015, doi:10.5840/socphiltoday201573023 ( [PDF; abgerufen am 23. Juni 2018]).
  2. Hannah Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem. Penguin Books, New York 1977.
  3. Umut Özkırımlı: On the Banality of Evil and 'Little Eichmanns'. [[wikipedia:Ahval|]], 31. Oktober 2017;.
  4. for example, see Gary J Jason: Are We All Little Eichmanns?; The Killing Compartments: The Mentality of Mass Murder, Author: Abram de Swann New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015, 332 pp. In: Philosophia. 44. Jahrgang, Nr. 1, 17. August 2015, doi:10.1007/s11406-016-9694-y (
  5. Clemens Heni: Secondary Anti-Semitism:From Hard-core to Soft-core Denial of the Shoah. In: Jewish Political Studies Review. 20. Jahrgang, Nr. 3/4, S. 82.
  6. Barbara Alice Mann: Wielding Words Like Weapons: Selected Essays in Indigenism, 1995–2005. Hrsg.: Ward Churchill. PM Press, 26. Februar 2017, And Then They Build Monuments to You.
  7. John Zerzan: Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilisation. Feral House, Los Angeles 2002, ISBN 978-0-922915-75-0, Whose Unabomber? ( (Memento des Originals vom 18. März 2009 im Internet Archive) – [1995]).
  8. John Dornberg: Schizophrenic Germany. MacMillan, 1961, S. 52.
  9. Anne Sexton: Live or Die. 1967, ISBN 978-0-395-08180-8, Live.. Reprinted and analyzed in: Rita Horváth: "Never Asking Why Build – Only Asking Which Tools": Confessional Poetry and the Construction of the Self (= Philosophiae Doctores. Band 36). Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2005, ISBN 978-963-05-8232-2, 'My Business Is Words': The Poetry of Anne Sexton, S. 117–118 ( [abgerufen am 5. August 2015]).
  10. Lewis Mumford: The Pentagon of Power: The Myth of the Machine, Vol. II. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, [[wikipedia:New York City|]] 1970, ISBN 978-0-15-163974-8, 279 (
  11. T.R. Reid: Professor Under Fire For 9/11 Comments: Free Speech Furor Roils Over Remarks. In: Washington Post. 5. Februar 2005;.
  12. Ward Churchill: Ward Churchill Statement. In: [[wikipedia:Daily Camera|]]. 1. Februar 2005, archiviert vom Original am 1. Juni 2013; abgerufen am 5. August 2015.
  13. Ward Churchill: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality. AK Press, 2003, ISBN 978-1-902593-79-1 (
  14. Robert L. Ivie: Academic freedom and antiwar dissent in a democratic idiom. In: College Literature. 33. Jahrgang, Nr. 4. Johns Hopkins University Press, S. 76–92, doi:10.1353/lit.2006.0055: “Churchill was made notorious for views he expressed on 9/11 about the culpability of Americans, including the victims of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, whom he labeled 'little Eichmanns' rather than innocent civilians. When this provocative label was brought into focus three years later, in the superheated context of a coordinated and persistent national assault on academic freedom by the politically ascendant right, it prompted a rebuke of Churchill in a formal resolution passed by the Colorado House of Representatives and a call by the state's governor for Churchill to resign his position as professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado. The attack on Churchill motivated in turn a university investigation that concluded Churchill was operating within his right of free speech but should be investigated further for related charges of plagiarism and misrepresentation of his Native-American ethnicity.”
  15. John Fritch, Catherine Helen Palczewski, Jennifer Farrell, Eric Short: Disingenuous controversy: responses to ward Churchill's 9/11 essay. In: Argumentation and Advocacy. 42. Jahrgang, Nr. 4, S. 190–205, doi:10.1080/00028533.2006.11821654.
  16. Ward Churchill: 'Some People Push Back': On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. In: Pockets of Resistance. 20. Jahrgang, September 2001 ( (Memento des Originals vom 16. April 2018 im Internet Archive) [abgerufen am 5. August 2015]).

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