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Nietzsche and Nazism: Postdoctoral Application

Nietzsche and Nazism: Postdoctoral Application



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Published by G.T.Roche

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Published by: G.T.Roche on Oct 25, 2008
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Postdoctoral Application
Dr. Geoffrey RocheApril 16
Project Title: ROME VS. ISRAELNietzsche and the Nazi Cultural Revolution
 1.2 Project Summary
Europe! Happy land where for so long a time the arts, sciences, and philosophy haveflourished; you whose wisdom and power seem destined to command the rest of theworld! Do you never tire of the false dreams invented by the impostors in order todeceive the brutish slaves of the Egyptians? [...] Leave to the stupid Hebrews, to thefrenzied imbeciles, and to the cowardly and degraded Asiatics these superstitionswhich are as vile as they are mad....”
Baron d’Holbach
 L’esprit du Judaïsme
“Philosophers have merely interpreted Nietzsche, and in different ways, but the Nazishave realized him.” The opinion is widespread…. is this right? What is it to ‘realize’a philosopher?
Martin Schwab,
 Nietzsche’s Nazi Affinities
The watchwords of the battle, written in characters which have remained legiblethroughout human history, read: “Rome vs. Israel, Israel vs. Rome.” No battle has been as momentous as this one.
Genealogy of Morals
At a conference with his generals in 1941, Hitler described the war with the Soviets as a
; as “
 Kampf zweiter Weltanschauungen gegeneinander.
” See Robert S. Wistrich
 Hitler and the Holocaust.
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001. p.104.
[Baron d’Holbach]
 L’Esprit du Judaïsme
examen raisonné de la loi de MOYSE, & de soninfluence sur la Religion Chrétienne
(‘Londres’ [probably false] 1750) p. 200-201. Quoted in Arthur Hertzberg
The French Enlightenment and the Jews
Martin Schwab Nietzsche’s “Nazi Affinities” (unpublished).
Friedrich Nietzsche
The Birth of Tragedy
the Genealogy of Morals
(in one volume) trans. FrancisGolffing (New York: Anchor Books, 1956) p.185.
2This project aims to contribute to, if not resolve, the ‘Nazism Question’ in Nietzschestudies (alternately, the ‘Nietzsche Question’ in Nazism studies). It is the view of theauthor that Nietzsche’s thought, if we are to critically engage with it
a philosophy,rather than a dogmatically defended credo, should really be considered as if it weretaken as a guide to moral conduct. As such, whether the Nazis (or other totalitariangroups) had taken Nietzschean principles to heart should be relevant to an appraisal(or condemnation) of Nietzsche’s ethics.
Aims and Significance
The project, as I envision it, will be to go beyond the standard assumptions andapproaches of critical Nietzsche studies. The existing literature on the Nietzsche- Nazism association is largely confined to a legalistic dialogue. That is, it is largelyconcerned with a straightforward condemnation or defense of Nietzsche’s work. Assuch, it is not so much a discussion of a question of ethics as a question of an author’s purported guilt or innocence. Further, this discussion rarely discusses the actualcontents of Nazi literature (or philosophers sympathetic to Nazism, such as MaxWundt and Erich Rothacker) or even acknowledges the existence of such an entity.
 (One recent anthology on the subject,
 Nietzsche, Godfather of Fascism?
edited byJacob Golomb and Robert S. Wistrich, is a case in point. It only mentions Hitler’swritings in passing, never quotes from them, and does not mention any other Nazitext. This is despite the fact that a number of Nazis were enthusiastic interpreters andreaders of Nietzsche, including head Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg and AlfredBaeumler, as well as non- Nazi fascists such as Mussolini. Nietzsche scholarship concerning this question remains incomplete on thisquestion until there is a critical inquiry into the Nazi
, from thehighest members (Hitler, Goebbels, Goering, Himmler, Rosenberg) to the variousacademics who were entrusted to interpret and disseminate Nazi ideology, down tothe institutional level. Two insightful papers are Greg Canada’s “Nietzsche and the
Max Weinreich
 Hitler’s Professors: The part of Scholarship in Germany’s crimes against the Jewish people.
 New Haven: Yale University Press/
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 1999, p.15.
3Third Reich,” and Martin Schwab’s “Nietzsche’s Nazi Affinities,” yet neither paper iscurrently published.
Discursive Formations: Culture, Morality, and Race in Germany 1800- 1945.
Rather than a focus, from the outset, of a purported causal connection between Nietzsche and Nazism (which can all too easily run into a hermeneutic tar-pit),The first part of the research would be a thorough textual and discursive analysis of  both the ideologies and movements that led to, fed into or inspired Nazism. Thisanalysis would take into consideration such philosophers as Fichte or Schelling,ideologues and theorists such as Count Joseph Gobineau (1816-1882), HoustonStewart Chamberlain (1885-1927), Wilhelm Marr, Richard Wagner, Charles Maurras(1868- 1952) Ernst Jünger or Oswald Spengler, and semi- secret cultic societies, suchas the Volkish movement and the Thule movement. (Nietzsche had strong, usuallynegative, opinions on many of the nationalistic and anti- Semitic groups, so the picture will be no doubt be complex by the time it is complete). I will also brieflydiscuss some of the central ideas in Nietzsche, with a clear Nazi resonance, that havea far older heritage, in particular the goals of eradicating Jewish- Christian moralityon the European continent, and of returning to the more rustic, life- affirmingmoralities of pre- Christian Europe. Baron D’Holbach, Claude- Adrien Helvétius andthe anonymous author of 
The Three Imposters
are some of the more extremeexponents of such proto- Nietzschean ideals, yet similar ideas are to be found in theworks of such ‘moderates’ as Jean- Jacques Rousseau.Of the texts associated with Nazism itself, and an analysis and retracing of the basic doctrines, value assumptions and underlying premises concerning State,Culture, Power, Gender, Strength, Health, Race, Socialism, Liberalism,
 the celebration of warfare and militarism, Democracy, and so on. That is, The Nietzsche- Nazism question will be answered only through approaching the
Greg Canada carefully notes the depth of the Nazi appropriation of Nietzsche, but nevertheless rejectsthe association, noting serious disaffinities between Nietzsche and Nazism. Schwab takes an extremelycautious approach, rejecting even Nietzsche’s call for the ‘destruction of the weak’ as being toocontingent. Instead, Schwab notes such fundamental similarities between Hitler and Nietzsche as theinsistence of the Will to Power, Value Naturalism, and notions of morally relevant gradients of Rank and Hierarchy as core values.

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