[INDOLOGY] Hitler and MLBD

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Tue May 20 11:29:27 EDT 2014


It has been said by me and others that the central argument here is that
MLBD as an Indological publisher owned by Jains has no good justification
for publishing *Mein Kampf*.  MK is not an Indological work (and indology
is MLBD's main  business identity) and it is a work that promotes cruelty
(MLBD is owned by a pious Jain family).


Robert, I do not agree with most of your points.

It is indeed true that Bavaria generally discourages the publication of MK
nationally and internationally, although there are exceptions and
borderline cases, like Israel.  These exceptions do not represent the main
policy of the Bavarian govt.  The critical edition is a special case, with
special imperatives and bracketting (Horizont) and it is controversial.  It
is not suitable for making the general case about the policies of the
Bavarian govt., which are clear enough.  The internal controversy precisely
shows how uncomfortable the Bavarian govt. is about publishing this work,
even the crit. ed.  As we also know, other signs of Nazism are criminal
offences in Germany (SS runes, Hakenkreuz, salutes, slogans, holocaust
denial aimed at incitement, etc.; *Strafgezetzbuch* para 86a, apparently).

The commercialism argument scarcely warrants a reply.  Should MLBD also
sell heroin or pornography because they could make a profit?  Ethics are
involved.

Consistency: you exactly invert the truth.  If the Indian Penal Code can be
used to prevent the publication of relatively harmless academic books, then
let it also be used for its original purpose, to prevent the publication of
genuine hate literature.  Let the law of the land be used to do some
good.
As for freedom of speech, yes that is a good argument.  However, MK is
widely available in India already, and I am not arguing with other
publishers, only with MLBD (Indology argument).

Effectiveness: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for
good men to do nothing." -- Edmund Burke

The fact that Hitler is popular in some quarters in India does not absolve
those of us who know the horrors about Hitler and Nazism in European
history from opposing such views.  Especially as they are often based on
almost complete ignorance.  In my experience, when I have conversations
with friends in India about the European experiences during the two World
Wars, they are often horrified and had no idea beforehand about the
Holocaust and other facts.

Superfluousness: Yes the book is not on the front page of MLBD's website
today.  But they are apparently still selling Mein Kampf, together with a
DVD of a film.  It seems that they have changed the edition that they are
selling, or at least the covers illustration.  I am not yet sure about the
meaning of this change.

There is nothing "unfair" in protesting to MLBD about their decision to
publish MK.  Why unfair?  Why should one keep silent in the face of a bad
act, under the name of fairness?    "Discriminatory"?  How?  Because we
haven't written to every publisher?  Why should we?  I have written to MLBD
because they publish some of my books and because I work with them and know
(and like) them and because they are a major presence in Indological
publishing.  "Ideologically ineffective"?  I don't think so.  It is not
ideologically ineffective to make an argument against something that one
considers bad.  It would be ineffective to do nothing.  "Not Indological?"
Well, that's point, isn't it?   Why should an Indological publisher promote
Mein Kampf?  Or do you mean that we shouldn't discuss this issue because it
isn't Indological?  "Publicitywise counter-productive"?  We don't yet know,
do we?  MLBD has removed the advertisement from their website's front page
already, within 24 hours.  Maybe they will feel moved to stop selling the
book altogether?  The future will tell.  "Superfluous anyway"?   You want
MLBD to sell Mein Kampf?

Sincerely,
Dominik


On Tue, May 20, 2014 at 3:50 PM, Robert Zydenbos
<zydenbos at uni-muenchen.de>wrote:

> A view on this not really Indological matter from an Indologist in Munich,
> Bavaria (the historical starting place, which is why I regularly deal with
> such questions; again in class, last Monday).
>
> (Situation in Germany:) It is not true that the Government of Bavaria
> “refuses to allow any copying or printing of the book in Germany” (sorry,
> Dominik, but the statement in your open letter is not quite accurate). In
> fact, the Bavarian government has subsidized a new, historically critical
> edition of the book by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte with an amount of
> half a million euros. In spite of support from many German Jews for this
> idea (
> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/12/german-jews-want-mein-kam_n_257937.html),
> the present chief minister of Bavaria suddenly announced, a few months ago,
> the stopping of a further subsidizing, apparently because of protests from
> certain other Jewish groups (which I consider foolish: both the protests as
> well as the interruption of the subsidy, and this stop has been criticized
> by oppositional left-wing political parties in the Bavarian parliament),
> but the editing work continues. For the latest details, see
> http://www.br.de/nachrichten/mein-kampf-hitler-100.html
>
> (Prohibition through exercise of copyright:) The Bavarian government has
> been quite selective in exercising its copyright to prohibit new editions
> of the book elsewhere. E.g., nothing has been undertaken against several
> editions in Israel (see
> https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mein_Kampf#Aktuelle_Rechtslage).
>
> (Availability and how to deal with it:) “Mein Kampf” is freely available
> anyway, as has already been amply pointed out in this thread. The critical
> edition (see above; also an edition for schools is planned) is meant to
> counterbalance the surge of new editions that unavoidably will appear from
> 2015 onwards (
> http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/der-kampf-um-mein-kampf.724.de.html?dram:article_id=99882).
> If MLBD brings out an integral edition of the book (not historically
> critical, but at least complete; does it have an explanatory preface? Has
> anybody seen it?), then readers can judge for themselves just how dull and
> crazy it is. (How many of the prudishly politically correct critics in this
> thread have actually read it? I stopped reading it – precisely because most
> of it is dull, and the rest is crazy in a not entertaining way.) This
> craziness may not be so visible if, in an uncontrolled manner, mere
> excerpts are published, which is not what MLBD has / had in mind.
> Furthermore, MLBD explicitly speaks / spoke of the author on its website as
> “evil”, thus explicitly not endorsing the contents of the book (did anybody
> here see that? Or were we too busy being outraged?).
>
> (Commercialism:) MLBD is a commercial publisher and evidently has stopped
> being a purely academically Indological publisher at least for some time
> now (if ever they have been one). Already for years they have been bringing
> out books on all sorts of topics, many of which, in my view, are rather
> trashy. Is it really fair to be intercontinentally critical of them while
> their commercial competitors, like Jaico, are making money with it? Like
> Amazon and Barnes and Noble sell it? (
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mein_Kampf#Online_availability)
>
> (Consistency:) If the overseas academic community cries out against the
> banning of books in India (Doniger, Ramanujan) in the name of freedom of
> expression, it looks odd that such people demand a ban on this old book for
> reasons which hardly any Indian understands (cf. for an illustration
> Veeranarayana Pandurangi’s characteristic post in this thread, last Sunday).
>
> (Effectiveness of protest:) Hitler’s book has already been popular in
> India for a long time, apparently esp. among Hindu nationalists (see
> “Hitler als «Management-Guru» in Indien” -
> http://www.20min.ch/ausland/news/story/29880511). It seems that India
> demands the right to make every mistake the West has made, from
> environmental destruction, turbo capitalism, nuclear armaments, to reading
> warped books. A mere loud condemnation of (just another) edition of
> Hitler’s book coming from the West is likely to be seen as yet another bit
> of neo-colonial holier-than-thou moralizing. What effectively is being said
> is ‘Americans and Israelis should read the book, but it is too dangerous
> for you foolish Indians to have it’, and I do not think that any Indian
> wants to hear that. Banning a book has never stopped the spread of
> nefarious ideas anyway (only better books, open discussion and explanation
> do that), and if we make a fuss, it may only mean additional publicity for
> something that we do not want to see popularized.
>
> (Superfluousness:) For whatever reason, MLBD has apparently already taken
> down the offer from its website www.mlbd.com as of today (May 20, 2014).
> This may mean that this entire discussion, the open letter etc. are
> superfluous. (Or it may mean that only the online advertising has stopped,
> but not the production and sale. I do not know.)
>
> Because I believe protests to MLBD in this matter are unfair,
> discriminatory, ideologically ineffective, not Indological, at worst
> publicitywise counter-productive, and perhaps superfluous anyway, I will
> not sign the public petition.
>
> Robert Zydenbos
>
> --
> Prof. Dr. Robert J. Zydenbos
> Institut für Indologie und Tibetologie
> Department für Asienstudien
> Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU)
>
>
>
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