Events in Germany in the last century have epitomized for us the deviancy of which a modern society is capable. It seems sometimes as if we feel we have put a period to evil at this scale, or as if the ocean and all the cultural difference it signifies isolates or immunizes us from the impulses behind a moral disaster of such proportions, or, again as though the severity of harm we know we do or permit is less grave intrinsically because it is so much exceeded in scale and ferocity by the events of the last century. Indeed, in some quarters it has been held that to suggest these events were not essentially unique is to minimize their gravity rather than to acknowledge that they tell us how very grave history can be.

Marilynne Robinson, ”Against Oligarchy”