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Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Western Conception of Concentration Camps

The idea of concentration camps was conceived in Europe in the eighteenth century, the Age of Enlightenment, as a tool for indoctrinating the masses. The Enlightenment philosophers and politicians believed that by teaching the right kind of philosophy and by applying sufficient amount of coercion, it is possible to transform men into better beings who are motivated by reason, science, and logic, and who cannot be swayed by the irrational forces of religion, tradition, and monarchism. They thought that people could be herded into large correction facilities where they would be kept for as long as it would take to reeducate them for their own good. 

The first Concentration Camp in modern history was established in Paris by the Jacobins during the French Revolution which began in 1789. After taking control of Paris, the Jacobins locked the city, banned all religious and traditional gatherings, and they made arrangements for the masses to be indoctrinated in their way of thinking. To coerce the masses to accept the Jacobin ideas, they started having public executions. Guillotines were erected in major streets—the idea was that when people see the heads of the enemies of the revolution being chopped, they would surrender their heart and mind to the Jacobin movement. But this strategy didn’t work out. The Jacobin regime was overthrown in 1799, and Napoleon took over in 1804. 

The second large-scale use of concentration camps happened in the Soviet Union when the Bolsheviks, the inheritors of the Jacobin legacy, came to power. The Bolsheviks were inspired by the Western ideology of communism and they believed that human beings can be coerced to give up their religious and traditional beliefs and became communists. During the time of Stalin, the Gulags (the Russian name for concentration camps) were used on a massive scale to torture and indoctrinate the potential enemies of the state and make counterrevolution impossible by spreading terror in rest of the population. Millions perished in these Gulags. But sufficient number of people could not be transformed through the Gulags and the Soviet Union fell in 1991.

Most communist countries have made extensive use of concentration camps. In Mao’s China, large swaths of the country had been turned into concentration camps where millions were starved, tortured, and worked to death. The post-Mao China continues to operate a large number of concentration camps.

In the USA and Western Europe, the decline in civil liberties has been massive in the last fifteen years. These nations are now as totalitarian as China, but they continue to fondly believe that they are capitalistic and free. In the next five years their fake notion of being free and capitalistic will shatter under the weight of the contradictions and corruption in their political system, and then these nations will start herding the politically undesirable section of their population into concentration camps. The lockdowns, which have been a regular feature since the last year, are experiments to prepare people for a new way of life. Most people have accepted the lockdowns as the “new normal,” and they will accept the concentration camps as another new normal.

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