Expedition and the Business of Addiction

“The stronger this faculty is, the more necessary it is for it to be combined with integrity and supreme wisdom, and if we bestow fluency of speech on persons devoid of those virtues, we shall not have made orators of them, but shall have put weapons into the hands of madmen”-Cicero, De Oratore III: xiv. 55.

* * * Geheime Reichssache (Secret Reich Business) Berlin, June 5, 1942

Changes for special vehicles now in service at Kulmhof (Chelmno) and for those now being built

Since December 1941, ninety-seven thousand have been processed [verarbeitet in German] by the three vehicles in service, with no major incidents. In the light of observations made so far, however, the following technical changes are needed:

[l.] The vans’ normal load is usually nine per square yard. In Saurer vehicles, which are very spacious, maximum use of space is impossible, not because of any possible overload, but because loading to full capacity would affect the vehicle’s stability. So reduction of the load space seems necessary. It must absolutely be reduced by a yard, in­ stead of trying to solve the problem, as hitherto, by reducing the number of pieces loaded. Besides, this extends the operating time, as the empty void must also be filled with carbon monoxide. On the other hand, if the load space is reduced, and the vehicle is packed solid, the operating time can be considerably shortened. The manufacturers told us during a discussion that reducing the size of the van’s rear would throw it badly off balance. The front axle, they claim, would be over­ loaded. In fact, the balance is automatically restored, because the merchandise aboard displays during the operation a natural tendency to rush to the rear doors, and is mainly found lying there at the end of the operation. So the front axle is not overloaded.

2.The lighting must be better protected than now. The lamps must be enclosed in a steel grid to prevent their being damaged. Lights could be eliminated, since they apparently are never used . However, it has been observed that when the doors are shut, the load always presses hard against them as soon as darkness sets in. This is because the load naturally rushes toward the light when darkness sets in, which makes closing the doors difficult. Also, because of the alarming nature of darkness, screaming always occurs when the doors are closed. It would therefore be useful to light the lamp before and during the first moments of the operation .

3.For easy cleaning of the vehicle , there must be a sealed drain in the middle of the floor. The drainage hole’s cover, eight to twelve inches in diameter, would be equipped with a slanting trap, so that fluid liquids can drain off during the operation. During cleaning, the drain can be used to evacuate large pieces of dirt.

The aforementioned technical changes are to be made to vehicles in service only when they come in for repairs. As for the ten vehicles ordered from Saurer, they must be equipped with all innovations and changes shown by use and experience to be necessary.

Submitted for decision to Gruppenleiter II D,

SS-Obersturmbannfiihrer Walter Rauff .

Signed: Just

Excerpts taken from The Ethic of Expediency by Steven B. Katz, College English, Volume 54, Number 3, March 1992, 255:

We have seen that Just’s memo is based purely on expediency; the memo itself is a technical instrument (like the vans themselves) for carrying out the organizational “task.” I have also already pointed out how in Aristotle’s conception of deliberative rhetoric, expediency seems to be the primary virtue. Deliberative rhetoric is expedient when it serves its end, that is, political persuasion. The test of success in Aristotelian rhetoric is in the persuasion of the audience (the so-called “audience criterion”). As “the art or faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion” (Rhetoric I. ii. 1355 b26), then, rhetoric could be considered a means to an end, an expedient, a techne.

Hitler takes the ethic of expediency underlying deliberative rhetoric to its logical extreme. For Hitler, propaganda, the truest form of “technical rhetoric,” replaced deliberative discourse as the preferred mode of communicating with the masses:

The function of propaganda does not lie in the scientific training of the individual, but in calling the masses’ attention to certain facts, processes, necessities, etc., whose significance is thus for the first time placed within their field of vision.

The whole art consists in doing this so skillfully that everyone will be convinced that the fact is real, the process necessary, the necessity correct, etc. (Mein Kampf, page 46)

Based on the ethic of expediency, rhetoric for Hitler was pure technique, de­signed not to encourage debate, but rather to indoctrinate: “all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan”; the reason, Hitler adds, is that “As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and the end entirely cancelled out.”

The ethic of expediency in extremis and combined with technology underlies the rhetoric of Just’s memo to the SS and the holocaust in general. But to some extent, technological (i.e., economic) expediency is the “moral” basis of many decisions/actions in our society that sometimes harm human welfare or imperil human life. A recent example would be the decision not to notify the public of the bomb threat to Pan Am Airlines to keep the airlines operating; in December 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York exploded over Locherbee, Scotland, killing all two hundred and seventy people on board. Ethically speaking, the difference is only one of degree, not kind. The decision not to notify the public was a “systems decision,” concerned more with the “efficient” operation of the transportation system than with the people the system is supposed to serve. In any highly bureaucratic, technological, capitalistic society, it is often the human being who must adapt to the system which has been developed to perform a specific function, and which is thus always necessarily geared toward the continuance of its own efficient operation.


Michel Foucault, French Philosopher:

‘Truth’ is to be understood as a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation and operation of statements.

‘Truth’ is linked in a circular relation with systems of power which produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which extend it. A ‘regime’ of truth.


In reference to the above literature on power, truth making, and expedition in our work, I would like to pose a few questions to readers:

  1. How can people redefine certain individuals as addicts? I believe this is a dehumanizing term, one filled with semantic technique that is designed to reduce humans to a single characteristic: weak-minded. Those with addictions are so much more than this simplistic term.
  2. Why are highly addictive drugs given out without an repercussions for the harm they do? I believe this expedites a system we all believe is based on scientific reason: life should never include pain of any kind, and we should trust the system engineers overseeing pharmaceutical science.
  3. What would change if addiction were not a crime? I believe those suffering would speak up and not run in fear: giving over one’s whole body to be controlled and monitored in locked facilities make people afraid to talk.
  4. What are the terms used by technical professionals concerning addiction? Disease, rehabilitation, patients, beds, treatment facilities, mental illness, and impulsivity.
  5. How much money is involved in making, incarcerating, and treating people with addictions? If addiction was completely gone tomorrow, our economy would plummet. Pharmaceutical companies, lawyers, law enforcers, prison guards, counseling center staff, in patient facility employees and investors, and anyone who makes a profit off making or controlling humans with addictions would be out of an income.
  6. Why are those with addictions so uninvolved in this system? I believe they would make sure they were not boxed without lights, were not transported without being the driver, were not defined by unfeeling scientists, and were not tattooed with a criminal record.
  7. Why do addiction treatment facilities advertise so heavily yet so exclusively? They are tied to profit. They are business-minded. So, their rhetoric must be designed to get people with insurance into their beds and paying their therapists.
  8. Do addiction businesses pay to lobby against pharmaceutical companies? I doubt it.
  9. Do addiction businesses donate to addiction charities? No, they typically don’t.
  10. Do you want to help humans suffering with addictions?

I believe we need to redefine ourselves, our loved ones, and the terms used to describe what is happening.

I refuse to say addiction is a diseasea disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance. I don’t have a simple term because the whole problem isn’t simple. We need to let people define themselves.

I believe we need to stop expediting how we deal with addiction. Expedition: useful for effecting a desired result; suited to the circumstances or the occasion; advantageous; convenient; based on or offering what is of use or advantage rather than what is right or just; guided by self-interest.

I believe we need to hear the voices of people battling addiction more than professionals. Addicts will tell us how it all began, what is keeping them down, how they really feel, and why they are turning to something besides other people to feel good. The professional community argues opinions based on observations, and only those with backing get published. This muddies the rhetoric being published. The addicts already know, but they are not published unless they are rich, famous, or somehow going to make someone a profit. We need to ask for, listen to, and value their opinions more often.

I believe all the rhetoric surrounding addiction is associated with power through humiliation. Humility toward the power of the addictive substance is quite different from walking naked through a crowd of onlookers. The whole “I am stronger than you, so do what I do” message needs to change to “I am the same as you in my humanness, but I really don’t understand how you must feel trying to fight this alone.” This should be followed by handing the person the power to cover their nakedness.

Do you agree?

Matt’s mom, Jane

I appreciate every comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s