Mass violence and the continuum of destruction: a study of C. P. Taylor’s Good

Hardie-Bick, James (2018) Mass violence and the continuum of destruction: a study of C. P. Taylor’s Good. In: The 19th International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law, 23 25 May 2018, Örebro University, Sweden.

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There are important studies that have directly focused on how, in times of conflict, it is possible for previously law abiding people to commit the most atrocious acts of cruelty and violence. The work of Erich Fromm (Escape from Freedom), Hannah Arendt (Eichmann in Jerusalem), Zygmunt Bauman (Modernity and the Holocaust) and Ernest Becker (Escape from Evil) have all contemplated the driving force of aggression and mass violence to further our understanding of how people are capable of engaging in extreme forms of cruelty and violence. Ervin Staub's (2007) research on the origins of genocide and group violence builds on these theoretical, philosophical and psychoanalytic insights to address the processes and conditions that lead to mass violence and genocide. This paper aims to build on this research by paying particular attention to Staub's work on 'the continuum of destruction'. To understand mass killing and genocide it is important to appreciate how even the smallest, and what may appear to be insignificant acts, can gradually incorporate individuals into an ideologically destructive system. To address these issues this paper discusses C.P Taylor's play Good. This provocative play examines how a seemingly 'good' and intelligent university professor can gradually become caught up in the workings of the Thiurd Reich. The play explores how the main character (Hadler), a devoted husband and loving father, becomes a member of the Nazi party and finally find himself working in Auschwitz. Taylor's important and powerful play highlights how 'initial acts that cause limited harm result in psychological changes that make further destructive actions possible' (Staub 2007:17). In additon to this I argue that the theatre is a powerful medium to explore these complex issues. The audience of Good find themselves confronted with the following question- 'What would you have done?'

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Research Centres and Groups: Crime Research Centre
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV6001 Criminology
Depositing User: James Hardie-Bick
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2018 12:07
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2018 09:50
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