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Adolf Busemann, "Barbarization and Brutalization" (1956)

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There is a well-known, effective remedy against the dangers of dissipation in the phases of arousal (crisis years), though it is difficult to come by: supervision. What is gratifying about the report about the Wild West gang in Essen is that the parents have to pay several tens of thousands of DM in damages. From this, they will learn about the sorts of obligations that fathers and mothers of energetic boys have. What worries us more is what can be done about brutalization. What is brutalization?

While the term “barbarization” [Verwilderung] can be defined only by enlisting the concept of human community and its order in morality and law (compare, for example, “the wild animal” and the tame “domestic animal”), the term “brutalness” concerns the behavior towards other life (physical or emotional) and can be circumscribed as a lack of respect for the latter. [ . . . ]

What is to be done now? Only far-reaching, political measures should be considered. Criticism of the inhumanity of the Eastern dictatorship is vain hypocrisy and worse, namely lies and self-deceit, if we do not employ vigorous socio-political and socio-pedagogical activity to put an end to the process of barbarization and brutalization that springs from the abuse of democratic freedom. If this is not done, one day the freedom to become barbaric and brutalized will turn into harsh discipline, which, in abolishing these freedoms, also abolishes the freedom of thought and faith.

Source: Adolf Busemann, “Verwilderung und Verrohung” [“Barbarization and Brutalization”], Unsere Jugend (April 1956), pp. 159-68.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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