Despite everything, isn't it very unlikely that those who have perfected and commercialized effective methods of chemical abortion are totally insensitive to the lessons of the past?

The phenomenon of damnatio memoriae, condemnation of memory, is characteristic of all the groups who have a bad conscience.

a) They erase the past above all because they are ashamed of it. Some old imperial powers still restrict their archives relative to their conquests. Some colonies, independent for a long time, have destroyed almost all of the documents relating to slavery.

But they erase the past also because they are afraid to risk illuminating the present and thus being able to judge it. This fear is particularly frequent among societies with a strong totalitarian design. Mao Tse-tung purged the history of Chinese culture because the Chinese of communist China would have already found there ample material for demystifying the ideology of the Great Leader. Knowledge of the past and its remembrance were rejected because they would have brought with them alarming realization. The reactivation of memory, by recalling history, is thus perceived as out of place, impertinent even, because it can brutally unmask the deceitful certitudes of a bad conscience.

b) In the case with which we are concerned, this reactivation could, for example, lead us to ask whether a new genocide is not about to unfold. This genocide would no longer have as victims those envisaged by historical Naziism; today it would be the immense multitude of poor people who would be targeted above all. A perspicacious observer, Dr Baulieu, affirms that "in accord with the World Health Organization, the Hoechst Company decided that in the countries of the Third World, which represent the real big markets, the pill [RU 486] would be sold at a much lower price or given away gratis."

c) In the case of the Hoechst laboratory which, together with Roussel-Uclaf, produced the RU 486 pill, fear of bringing up the past has been cleverly analyzed by the same Dr. Baulieu. In an interview granted to the Italian review L'Espresso, he noted that:

"It was precisely the directors of the American affiliate of Hoechst that poisoned the opinion of the German mother company. Hilger, its president, even as a Bavarian Catholic never had anything against the pill. But today he is afraid. And his fears are nourished by certain phantoms of the past. The Hoechst firm was founded after the war from the dismantlement of the I. C. Farben Co., the industrial giant that, among others, produced the gas for the Nazi extermination camps. Hilger is in terror of the idea that anti-abortion groups will let loose a campaign accusing Hoechst of continuing to kill as in the Hitler days"1.

If we understand this "terror" well, we understand less, on the other hand, the mental block that limits the perception of the firm's president.


  1. See the dossier of Carlo Galluci on "La pillola maldetta," L'Espresso (Rome, Oct. 20, 1991) 156-165, esp. 163.

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