Riding with spur and rein over our doubts

"We were a self-centred army without parade or gesture, devoted to freedom,
the second of man's creeds, a purpose so ravenous that it devoured all
our strength, a hope so transcendent that our earlier ambitions faded
in its glare.

As time went by our need to fight for the ideal increased to an
unquestioning possession, riding with spur and rein over our doubts.
Willy-nilly it became a faith. We had sold ourselves into its slavery,
manacled ourselves together in its chain-gang, bowed ourselves to serve
its holiness with all our good and ill content. The mentality of
ordinary human slaves is terrible--they have lost the world--and we had
surrendered, not body alone, but soul to the overmastering greed of
victory. By our own act we were drained of morality, of volition, of
responsibility, like dead leaves in the wind.

- T. E. Lawrence, Introduction, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

This observation from Lawrence's own experience fits neatly with the thesis of a recent book (Holocaust: A History by Debórah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt) which attempts to place the Holocaust within the social context of modern Europe. (Salon interview)

No comments: