Speak, Memory

by Corey Robin on November 8, 2013

All that’s solid melts into air.

Schocken Verlag* was a German publishing house established in 1931 by Jewish department store owner Salman Shocken. In 1939 it was shut down by the Nazis. It slowly made its way to New York, where it eventually became Shocken Books. In 1987 Shocken was acquired by Random House. Eleven years later, Random House was acquired by Bertelsmann.

During World War II, Bertelsmann was the largest publisher of Nazi propaganda, including “The Christmas Book of the Hitler Youth.” It also made use of Jewish slave labor in Latvia and Lithuania.

Confronted about the company’s past in 2002, a Bertelsmann spokesman said, “The values of Bertelsmann then are irreconcilable with the company today. The company is now a global player in the media industry.”

Because the one thing the Nazis definitely were not were global players.

“Common sense tells us,” wrote Nabokov, “that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.”

*I learned of this history in the London Review of Books, and gleaned additional details from Wikipedia and the BBC.

{ 46 comments }

1

Jesús Couto Fandiño 11.08.13 at 5:01 pm

Thats the kind of thing that makes me think of Charles Stross “alien corporate hive-mind” remarks. Is like you are getting a mangled conversation between an human and and entity that is not and doesnt fully understand what is important or not ab0ut human life, via a pod-person employed as tongue by said alien mind.

2

godoggo 11.08.13 at 5:13 pm

3

Gerhard Stoltz Jr. 11.08.13 at 5:32 pm

“You can’t do this to me! I’m a star class copywriter in the Fowler Schocken advertising agency.”
Read the article in LRB and thought the name sounded familiar. Lo and behold, Pohl and Kornbluth had appropriated that name for their hilarious (and still relevant) “The Space Merchants” back in 1952.

As for making money on the Nazis the list is long and not too entertaining.
As for having to become a part of corporate entities with such pasts? Oh well, at least it’s not the BND.

Also, the difference in coverage of “The Kraus Project” in LRB and Harper’s was quite entertaining to behold.

4

kharris 11.08.13 at 6:55 pm

“The company is now a global player in the media industry.” This is the sentence that matters. The bit about how bad Bertelsmann feels about its Nazi-era behavior is for rubes.

When you see two sentences stuck together this way, making no sense but seeming to address the same issue, it’s a fair bet that one is window dressing. Typically, the touchie-feelie sentence is a nod to conventional feelings, while the statement about power is the one meant for the audience that really matters.

5

Dingbat 11.08.13 at 7:42 pm

“German business has Nazi past” is a dog-bites-man story. “What are you going to do about it that’s what I’d like to know,” in the words of Paul Simon.

6

In the sky 11.08.13 at 8:05 pm

Genuine question here, albeit somewhat off-topic.

Why is it fair game to toss the “Oh, they worked for the Nazis” line at modern day, seemingly repentant corporations, but very rude to make such remarks about the German people/society/government etc.?

7

Corey Robin 11.08.13 at 8:13 pm

Dingbat: It is a dog-bites-man story. That’s why that is not the story of this OP.

8

hix 11.08.13 at 8:43 pm

Is there a point beyond screaming Nazi to shut down Bertelsmann for doing nothing wrong?

9

Corey Robin 11.08.13 at 8:52 pm

“Is there a point beyond screaming Nazi to shut down Bertelsmann for doing nothing wrong?”

Perhaps you’d prefer if we dealt with the issue like this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptxkVhDYog8

By “doing nothing wrong” I assume you mean printing propaganda for the Nazis and the German army, and making use of slave labor?

10

Neville Morley 11.08.13 at 9:03 pm

One obvious reason for calling out companies on their Nazi past is the substantial possibility that their present-day prosperity may be founded to a significant degree on the profits of their activities in the Nazizeit, benefits from confiscated Jewish property, elimination of competition and use of forced labour included. ‘Repentence’ is all well and good; ‘compensation’ tends to be lower down the list. The vast majority of Germans and German politicians weren’t even alive then, let alone complicit, and yet the majority continue to be willing to accept a burden of guilt from the actions of their ancestors; glib assertions that all Germans are Nazis are thus basically obnoxious. The companies were, in a meaningful sense, both alive at the time and complicit.

11

Map Maker 11.08.13 at 9:29 pm

The company was shut down by the Nazis in 1944. It didn’t exist again until a family member started a new company with the same name in 1947 …

12

ZM 11.08.13 at 9:29 pm

“All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

“Confronted about the company’s past in 2002, a Bertelsmann spokesman said, “The values of Bertelsmann then are irreconcilable with the company today. The company is now a global player in the media industry.”
Because the one thing the Nazis definitely were not were global players.”

I think it’s interesting that you’re making a connection between what Marx would call capitalism, imperialism (the global drive of the Nazi’s in competition with the not as landlocked and earlier unified European imperial powers), and globalisation – and also drawing attention to the very evil crimes committed in the desire of the second, and to a different extent the third.

13

roy belmont 11.08.13 at 9:44 pm

Slave labor having been eradicated from the contemporary world right?
Except the awkward idea maybe of paying such shit wages that there’s no real substantive difference between having to feed your slaves minimal nutrition, and shelter them in shit conditions, or paying them just enough they can do that for themselves. But they aren’t slaves, because we’re paying them.
Burning Bangladeshi garment workers. Not slaves. Workers. Really completely different morally. Really.
FOXCONN suicidal workers, in the clean bright dormitories of 21c non-slavery workaround of exactly the same dynamic.
Nothing forgivable about Bertelsmann’s history, but it is a history, with different variables and victims, shared with an ungodly number of other corporate entities, who did, and are still doing, the same thing. Consuming the lives and well-being of people who can’t get away from the conditions without grave risk.
The only alternative to actual slavery is rebellion and beating and death, the only alternative to the modern version is refusal and hunger and death. The difference is only significant to the heartless.

14

In the sky 11.08.13 at 9:54 pm

The vast majority of Germans and German politicians weren’t even alive then, let alone complicit

Sure, but it’s fairly safe to say that nobody who works for the company today were neither alive nor complicit either.

The extent to which they, today, are benefiting from past crimes of the older generation of owners? My guess is small. It’s been two generations. Perhaps enough to warrant of scorn. Enough for the divergence between “oh they worked for the Nazis” and “Don’t mention the war”? I’d be surprised.

15

ZM 11.08.13 at 10:07 pm

“The difference is only significant to the heartless.” Um, I’m not sure if you’re writing in response to my comment before, or to another one up thread? If mine, I meant different, not excusable or anything close to that, if you’re pointing out that the extent and reach of globalisation is actually greater than imperialism and that therefore the evil crimes (some of which you note) while perhaps being of a different extent could not / ought not be considered in any way to be of a lesser extent – that’s a good point.

16

Corey Robin 11.08.13 at 10:07 pm

“The company was shut down by the Nazis in 1944. It didn’t exist again until a family member started a new company with the same name in 1947 …”

Under the Nazis, the company was run by Heinrich Mohn. This was the company that made use of Jewish slave labor and that served as the printing house and ideological organ of the Nazi regime. Heinrich also was an active supporter of the SS, making donations to them and to groups of concentration camp guards. In 1944, the Nazis shut it down b/c of a paper shortage. After the war, Heinrich persuaded his 26 year old son Reinhard to take over the business, which he did when it relaunched in 1947 under his leadership.

The point of this post was not to rehearse the details of Bertelsmann’s past (though apparently that needs rehearsing.) It was to point out the irony of a Jewish publishing house being forced to flee the Nazis only to be consumed, years later, by the very company that had served as the ideological house organ of the Nazis.

17

Dingbat 11.08.13 at 10:08 pm

I’m not sure what is the story here–and I’m trying.

I’m a historian by training: continuity and change are… well, they are. That’s something that I use to understand the world.

Can we add some air and fuel to the brief spark of light, though? I’ll put in a plug for an outfit (no affiliation other than a friend works there) that aims to confront the past and learn from it, working with children to reckon with the past. Check out Facing History and Ourselves.

Neville Morley’s comment #10 is sharp, “Repentance is all well and good; compensation tends to be lower down the list.” But given that this whole thing revolves around corporations outliving humans–would we have Bertelsmann compensating Schocken? The heirs of the Schocken family? Wha? The families of the Latvian Jews?

Truth and reconciliation may be the best we can do.

18

ZM 11.08.13 at 10:15 pm

“Truth and reconciliation may be the best we can do.”

In terms of converging global consumption etc (like the model of dealing with climate change would have it we need to do by sometime between 2040 and 2059) compensation is a good idea in my view.

19

mpowell 11.08.13 at 10:16 pm

There’s certainly irony there. I wouldn’t want to make any further claims though.

20

ZM 11.08.13 at 10:24 pm

I mean, sometime between 2040 and 2050, not 2059 sorry

21

novakant 11.08.13 at 11:17 pm

Actually Germany has been comparatively good at this compensation and reconciliation business – which is only right as it has caused terrible suffering as well. There is a certain irony to the US/UK lecturing others about these matters though.

22

Bloix 11.09.13 at 12:05 am

#16 – well, I’m glad that was your point. Because I was worried that you were making an elliptical argument that Jews = Israelis = Nazis.

23

Robert Halford 11.09.13 at 12:40 am

‘Repentence’ is all well and good; ‘compensation’ tends to be lower down the list. The vast majority of Germans and German politicians weren’t even alive then, let alone complicit, and yet the majority continue to be willing to accept a burden of guilt from the actions of their ancestors; glib assertions that all Germans are Nazis are thus basically obnoxious. The companies were, in a meaningful sense, both alive at the time and complicit.

The story of Bertelsmann in the Nazi era was the subject of an extensive, critical history, commissioned by the company itself, by Saul Friedlander from UCLA, that the company puts up on its own website (conclusion here). And, Bertelsmann has paid into the billion-dollar slave labor compensation fund. Of course, that the history was done at all wasn’t simply a gesture of corporate goodwill, but the company has (a) opened its archives and itself commissioned an independent historical review of its practices that is very critical of the corporation; (b) paid large amounts of money into a victim’s compensation fund. That’s certainly at the better end of corporations recognizing their responsibilities for participation in historical atrocities — it doesn’t make the point about buying Random House less ironic, I suppose, but Bertelsmann has pretty clearly been at the better end of whatever spectrum of reasonableness we might expect from corporations that were part of awful regimes.

24

Corey Robin 11.09.13 at 1:02 am

Bloix: “I was worried that you were making an elliptical argument that Jews = Israelis = Nazis.”

How in the world could you have gotten that from my post?

25

hix 11.09.13 at 1:12 am

Bertelsmann has done nothing wrong when they bought Randomhouse and by extension Shocken books. Just like they did nothing wrong issuing that press statement in response to the usual Nazi screems. Berstelsmann does lots of other wrong stuff today, not just in the past – they are pretty ugly neoliberals. And of course the company behaved immoral during the NSDAP dictatorship (big surprise). Its just that those points have nothing to do with each other and should not be linked in a post for cheap emotional outrage. So whats the accusation ? That they didnt put up a long defense nuanced enough press statement with 100 we are sorry in response to Nazi screams? That would have been dumb and pointless.

26

Robert Halford 11.09.13 at 2:10 am

Some other ironies:

1) Bertelsmann’s purchase of RH was in the late 90s, at a relatively high valuation for RH (the book publishing industry has, as everyone knows, since collapsed). If the owners of Shocken Books had gotten RH stock from the RH purchase of Shocken Books, they made out like bandits on the Bertlesmann purchase.

2) One of Shocken Books’ most valuable assets at the time of purchase was its control over the rights to the works of Kafka (along with other 20’s-30’s Jewish authors who wrote in German). They had control over these valuable copyrights because . . . Hitler ordered at some point in the 1930s that only Jewish publishers could have copyrights in Jewish works.

27

Corey Robin 11.09.13 at 4:42 am

Those are some other ironies! Particularly the second.

28

George Berger 11.09.13 at 6:10 am

When I left the Netherlands in January 2009, one could buy stuff online at bol.com . It was then, and probably still is, quite popular. The firm’s name is “Bertelsmann online.” I am now glad that I never bought a thing from them. I shall continue this policy.

29

Neville Morley 11.09.13 at 6:16 am

@Robert Halford #23: thanks for that; I should have made it clearer that I was talking in very general terms, rather than saying anything specific to Bertelsmann. Actually I was thinking mainly of Doktor Oetker, where the Nazi past was properly discussed only this year (see http://www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/2013-10/oetker-ns-drittes-reich).

@In the Sky #14: of course no one currently working for these companies was complicit or even alive – that’s entirely beside the point.

30

hix 11.09.13 at 1:03 pm

Dont buy at Bertelsmann, buy at Amazon instead and make the world a better place, since Bertelsmann did print Nazi prophaganda literature. Wtf? For things how far back in the past exactly should copmanies be boycotted?

31

Bloix 11.09.13 at 2:07 pm

“How in the world could you have gotten that from my post?”

From the epigram:

“All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

It seemed that you might be saying that the acquisition of Schocken revealed the reality of the relationship between Nazism and present-day Judaism.

Otherwise I couldn’t tell what you were saying. Just irony?

BTW, after moving to Palestine Salman Schocken bought the Haaretz newspaper, which is still majority-owned by family members and has been edited continuously by a Schocken since the mid-30’s. But the family sold 25% of the paper (since reduced to 20%) to another German publishing house with a Nazi past, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3292189,00.html

And when you get off the plane at Ben-Gurion Airport, the taxi you’ll ride in to your hotel will probably be a Mercedes.

32

bob mcmanus 11.09.13 at 2:51 pm

25: Some of us, ok maybe just me, do see ideological connections within classical liberalism, fascism, and neoliberalism and therefore continuity for Bertelsmann. To quote Terry Eagleton again

“as in the case of fascism, where a ruling sector of finance capitalism takes over
for its own purposes the prejudices and anxieties of the lower middle class. “

The lower middle class also have their hopes and dreams, which certainly can vary over historical time but often are connected with gaining just a little property of their own: a couple slaves, house with picket fence, lebensraum, 40 acres and a mule, a suburban split-level, marketable educational credentials, protected legal status, a nice IRA, a good insurance policy…a place of their own in the ownership society.

Capital always finds a way to extract the surplus from labour’s dreams.

33

Corey Robin 11.09.13 at 4:18 pm

Bloix: The point of the “all that’s solid” quote is that a series of financial exchanges (Random House buys Shocken, Bertelsmann buys Random House) have a way of liquidating history and memory. So much so that hardly anyone knows (I certainly didn’t) or blinks an eye at the fact that a Jewish publisher that was originally shut down and driven out by the Nazis is now owned by a German publisher that once provided ideological support for the Nazis and profited from their use of Jewish slave labor. That past has been completely subsumed under the abstractions of the market. The point seemed so obvious that I didn’t think I needed to spell it out. Given what I’ve written on this blog about Jews and Judaism (as opposed to Zionism, which is a different kettle of fish) I’m not sure how you could possibly think I was suggesting there was any kind of “relationship between Nazism and present-day Judaism.”

34

ZM 11.09.13 at 4:59 pm

“The point of the “all that’s solid” quote is that a series of financial exchanges have a way of liquidating history and memory”

But the quote seems more about how being involved in the structure of capitalism both transforms the conditions of man and the relations between different men – but at the same time, man, in taking up capitalism and doing away with or transgressing (making profane) the traditional holy bonds between and understandings of people – which at once were understandings and were also normative orderings of conditions and relations – means man must face or admit to the truth about the conditions of men, and the particular material sorts of relations between, I guess for Marx, classes of men.

If they don’t like to look in the mirror here, I am sure Marx’s advice would be to tell them to be communists instead of capitalists.

Financial exchanges and so forth are not actors, the people involved in making them are, as far as I can see, although that assumes at least a potential for agency which I guess could be disputable.

35

ZM 11.09.13 at 5:09 pm

Well, that reads very harshly upon reflection. I’m not really sure how to soften it really now, except in terms of admitting to my complicity also. maybe my reading of the quote is all wrong? Maybe that quote was not the best epigraph to orient us to the story you wanted to tell?

36

Zamfir 11.09.13 at 5:17 pm

@george berger, despite the name bol.com is not owned by Bertelsmann, but by Albert Heijn. I think there was a management buyout early on.

RTL on the other hand is owned by Bertelsmann.

37

Ed Herdman 11.09.13 at 10:31 pm

I have been thinking hard about this question lately after one of America’s own opportunities for reparations – after slavery – was discussed on the Diane Rehm show recently (you can find that here: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2013-10-31/moral-and-economic-costs-slavery )

It is curious to me how our common-sense feelings (which inform that American, and universal, value of separating “the sins of the fathers” from the children) inform very different feelings on the appropriateness of reparations when we move across time or generations. In some senses, individuals are a kind of reincarnation of their parents – especially in terms of continuing values and heritage. In other senses, we have strong common-sense notions that they are independent. We wouldn’t dream of imprisoning somebody for a murder committed without their knowledge or involvement.

Having one person return goods that they themselves stole is not controversial, and it’s also not controversial to restore actual goods stolen by a father, even though that inconveniences the blameless offspring. There’s also a pretty compelling account of the path from past injustices to current prosperity (referenced in the Rehm panel discussion, and seen elsewhere – I’ve also seen the headline of a recent study apparently holding that roughly 60% of a person’s chances are determined at the time of birth; or inherited).

The very problematic empirical and public policy aspects of attempting reparations aside, one thing I find curious here is how that prosperity continuing since the demise of slavery is shown as a continuation of the theft – even as it is explicitly stated that the form taken by the proceeds of slavery is in the offspring being educated, so we no longer have a concrete thing to grasp and restore to the aggrieved party, but a quantity of idea. The stolen item having been invested, the aggrieved party’s descendants have lost the returns of that investment – but is it correct to then say that a person who is educated should essentially trade places with a person who had an investment stolen, and that any returns from the investment of theft is forfeit? Do we seriously say that we should compromise on this, and just split the difference fifty-fifty? The concept of taking one person’s education and restoring it to another being both unjust and absurd, I am left wondering how reparations would actually work.

I think that this confusion isn’t necessarily unsolvable – rather I think the empirical, ethical, and policy complications of such an approach make direct reparations in all but the most direct cases inadvisable as a policy. It seems much preferable to simply use social science to attempt and study who is currently at disadvantage and target them for large social gains. I don’t think that giving money in an unfocused fashion, especially if it isn’t possible to specifically determine who should receive what and where the historical burden of responsibility actually lies (the empirical problems), makes for good public policy, and it also seems unhelpful if this obscures the obligations from common decency with the allure of a price tag. It certainly is easy to make many white people stop feeling brotherly sympathy for their fellow when you set American against American in this way, but income redistribution based on actual need is much easier to defend (and, if you’re an anti-government type, think of what motivates private giving at least).

38

Ed Herdman 11.09.13 at 10:38 pm

Oh, and before I get too wrapped up in the minutiae of public policy formation, I would like to add that I very much appreciated Corey Robin’s epigram. I think that we should take this not as dissolving shared responsibility, and we should not take it as a horrible thing that the language and thought of the modern German company appears, here, incapable of redefining the sloganeering of “global values.” If anything, perhaps the hold of ideas (which in this case are positive ones) has some small value in shining light on how it came to be that people in Germany understood the good in a few critical ways to be so different from how it is understood today.

I hope it goes without saying that to some extent we are simply unaware – and must be – of how far the past reaches into our lives at present, in much the same way that so many of our ancestors were completely oblivious to the workings of the universe (and as we arguably still are today).

39

ZM 11.10.13 at 2:32 am

@37 “Having one person return goods that they themselves stole is not controversial, and it’s also not controversial to restore actual goods stolen by a father, even though that inconveniences the blameless offspring”

“For I trace the beginnings of British foreign investment to the treasure which Drake stole from Spain in 1580. In that year he returned to England bringing with him the prodigious spoils of the Golden Hind. Queen Elizabeth was a considerable shareholder in the syndicate which had financed the expedition. Out of her share she paid off the whole of England’s foreign debt, balanced her Budget, and found herself with about £40,000 in hand. This she invested in the Levant Company –which prospered. Out of the profits of the Levant Company, the East India Company was founded; and the profits of this great enterprise were the foundation of England’s subsequent foreign investment. Now it happens that £40,ooo accumulating at 3f per cent compound interest approximately corresponds to the actual volume of England’s foreign investments at various dates, and would actually amount to-day to the total of £4,000,000,000 which I have already quoted as being what our foreign investments now are. Thus, every £1 which Drake brought home in 1580 has now become £100,000. Such is the power of compound interest!” Economic Possibilities forvOur Grandchildren 1930

40

Ed Herdman 11.10.13 at 6:45 pm

That’s a good example of the power of compound interest, but it doesn’t hook in with the moral intuitions or a moral argument we would need in order to do a back-claim.

Additionally, I think it’s simply naive to believe that all proceeds of plunder from ages past remained in a form that are actually traceable. But more than that, money gets reinvested, people’s own efforts cause new credit, and the entire idea that only the proceeds of theft are responsible for the growth of the English economy is simply laughable.

On top of that, there’s a strong question of why we should be motivated by one set of injustices or not another. We can point to key thefts over the years (plunder of Grecian marbles, theft of gold, silver, and other capital from South America, theft of land from Native Americans, deprivation of economic gains from slavery) but there are many others. I don’t argue that it “washes out” but likely it is too upsetting to established order, and also arguably many (if not most) people have in their family histories some source of profit by injustice.

41

ZM 11.10.13 at 7:16 pm

Thank you for your reply Ed Herdman.

No, Keynes didn’t make that moral argument or have that intuition before the war, sadly. I’ve an idea I’ve read somewhere he was a supporter of eugenics also.

But he recognised that foreign investment was often stolen, and that its benefits and profits accrued to later generations.

No, I’m not naive enough to think money plundered remains in the same form. for instance, people built grand buildings and palaces and museums and libraries etc with it I think probably all those hygenic improvements to European cities were made with it – it wouldn’t be practical exactly to did up plumbing and pipes, and take running water from those that benefit from invasion down the track and give it to those to whom the dis benefits of being invaded accrue and dwell in slums and so on, would it?

The English economy since it began to invade distant countries, I think Virginia was the first, is intricately bound up with its wrongdoings. Or there’s how they changed their neighbours and took their languages and dress from them, and put them to work, or sent them, pressed them to want to go, overseas to invaded countries. And so forth. If you think that it is possible to extricate the benefits of all this to other factors of growth in the British economy, be my guest but i doubt it can be demonstrated through evidence and maths myself.

Yes it would be upsetting to the established order and would drag skeletons from closets, but that is no reason, or a poor reason, to argue against reconciliation and reparations in my view.

42

Chris M 11.11.13 at 4:07 am

Considering that many, many corporations in Germany did work for the Nazi regime, you seem to be suggesting that the Allies should have just destroyed all of these corporations, and thus destroyed Germany’s economy altogether. That didn’t work so well after World War I.
Also, would you have preferred that all of the firm’s employees just re-convened under a different firm name? Or would you have preferred that they all remained unemployed and pennless for the rest of their lives? I’m having a hard time seeing what you consider the right thing to do.

43

Leo 11.11.13 at 10:32 am

Bertelsmann is now the majority owner (53%) of Penguin Random House. Would that they had named the merged company Random Penguin.

44

Ed Herdman 11.11.13 at 4:00 pm

@ ZM:

My major point, in all this, is not that you can ignore inequities. Rather I think the best route is through targeted engagement and improvements. Instead of trying to untangle historical accounts and try to weigh historical events we care about, and which we don’t, it is easier and makes for better policy to just target people (or even nations) that need help from those who can help. Of course, even this kind of liberal internationalism is under fire these days.

Targeted improvements also erase the nonsensical possibilities that you have wealth transfers going from the poor to the rich, or ambiguity about what to do in the case that an individual has mixed heritage between people perpetrating and suffering an injustice. I also think there is an ethical benefit here, in that we focus again on the things that are important – helping out the needy, being deferential to our fellow person – and not on something that is distorting (money as the healer of all wounds).

I think Chris M is right here – the logical end of the argument put forward by pro-reparations researchers like Dr. Richard F. America is that potentially the vast majority of an individual’s earnings are considered forfeit, because that money gets reinvested into education and the like. This is certainly a very strong, hard-core interpretation of the argument, though.

Now, in the case where something tangible is stolen and we can clearly trace that path – be it paintings (like the bunch of paintings found just recently in Germany) or a bank account – then those obviously need to be returned to the rightful owners.

45

ZM 11.11.13 at 5:45 pm

@Ed Herdman

I think you are right regarding not having a sole focus on money and objects of consumer desire.

I think though that if knowledge and education happen to be the *sole* proceeds of the crime down the track, which I do think would be rare, the person who has accrued the benefits can quite easily spend all their time sharing their knowledge by teaching the children of those to whom the disbenefits accrued, teaching adult education, publishing open access articles and so forth. Education is one of the oldest things to be shared.

46

dax 11.15.13 at 12:59 pm

“It is curious to me how our common-sense feelings (which inform that American, and universal, value of separating “the sins of the fathers” from the children) inform very different feelings on the appropriateness of reparations when we move across time or generations. “

Not to mention when we move away from one’s own country. Bad Nazis, bad Germans!

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