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Our Debt to Stalingrad

BERKELEY – We are not newly created, innocent, rational, and reasonable beings. We are not created fresh in an unmarked Eden under a new sun. We are, instead, the products of hundreds of millions of years of myopic evolution, and thousands of years of unwritten and then recorded history. Our past has built up layer upon layer of instincts, propensities, habits of thought, patterns of interaction, and material resources.

On top of this historical foundation, we build our civilization. Were it not for our history, our labor would not just be in vain; it would be impossible.

And there are the crimes of human history. The horrible crimes. The unbelievable crimes. Our history grips us like a nightmare, for the crimes of the past scar the present and induce yet more crimes in the future.

And there are also the efforts to stop and undo the effects of past crimes.