Friday, July 18, 2014

Imperial Legacy

The model of Germania, the planned capital of Hitler's Thousand-Year Reich, sits under a sheet in the basement of the Western imagination, waiting to be unveiled again. We think we've immunized ourselves against this evil. We watch hour after hour of TV shows about the Nazis. We might even read a book or two about them. How could we ever be as wicked as they? But even as we maintain this blithe naivete, our ignorance grows, as does our potential for evil.

Let's walk the streets of the unconscious and trace the outline of this city. Surely we'll find many blind alleys and dead ends haunted by monsters. How many virgins have been sacrificed to this Minotaur? The streets are paved with their bones. Their ghosts fill every silence with moaning, crying, wailing. They deliver warnings. Don't repeat their mistakes. Don't succumb to hubris. Remember: thou art mortal. You are just as capable of evil as anyone else. You are just as vulnerable to pride and arrogance, more so because of the power of your technology.

Why does Germania feel so familiar to me? This is the capital of my dreams, the wellspring whence my imagination sprang. The smooth walls of the edifices. The rigid geometry of the streets. It calls to me. But this is only a dream, a figment of madmen's fancy, the gleaming facade of our murderous heritage, the handsome face of evil, the impossibly perfect skin stretched over the bottomless pit of savagery.

Living in this city, you'd never know the horrors of its construction, the brutal enslavement of its builders, the cruel fate of its citizens. But this is our home. Our empire is also built on death, destruction and oppression. We are shielded from these truths by our sanitized environment. The pollution and exploitation necessary to maintain our lifestyle have been mostly outsourced to factories and sweatshops beyond our borders. The media politely refrain from troubling us with the true causes and costs of the conflicts fought by our military and our proxies. But all empires fall. Let's hope we leave more than a model of evil when we go.

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