In a recent call to radical action, Chris Hedges cites a passage from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, referring to the moral necessity of retaining a sharp hunger for “perfect justice”, a hunger that may appear from the outside to resemble a kind of “sublime madness”. We tracked the passage to the final chapter in Niebuhr’s Moral Man and Immoral Society: a Study in Ethics and Politics, published in 1932. Excerpts, below.
The images are from Hannah Hoch; in that same year 1932, over in Deutschland, the Nazi Party classified the work of the sublimely mad artist as “degenerate”, forcing cancellation of a major retrospective. The following year saw the burning of the Reichstag, as well as the public burning of books written by designated “un-German” authors such as Walter Benjamin, Franz Kafka and Karl Kraus. On and on, the folk dancers danced, turning and turning, eternally. Of course, none of that could ever happen here; not now, not to us.