Nietzsche, Godfather of Fascism? On the Uses and Abuses of a Philosophy

By Jacob Golomb; Robert S. Wistrich | Go to book overview

5

Nietzsche and the Jews

Menahem Brinker

There is a considerable literature on the Nazi use, appropriation, and manipulation of Nietzsche's name, philosophy, and writings. Debates focused around this issue started even before the Nazis rose to power and are still continuing today. The Jewish theme as it figures in Nietzsche's thought is also mentioned in a large part of these discussions, yet in most cases it is marginalized by more dominant themes. Among them one can find Nietzsche's scorn for the idea of equality, his contempt for democracy, and his critique of the idea of progress and the Nazi slogans about a “degenerate” culture, the concepts of the “Overman,” and amor fati. After all, these were motifs that were central to the Nazis. The reason that the Jewish theme was relatively marginal in these discussions was that even those who looked for the links connecting Nietzsche to Nazi mentality knew very well that they could not be found in Nietzsche's utterances on the Jews. Even people who were almost completely ignorant of the true content of Nietzsche's philosophy had heard about his quarrel with Wagner and the Wagnerians. Nevertheless through the years of the Third Reich, echoes of Nietzsche's vocabulary could often be heard in Nazi attacks on the Jewish origins of all decadent “modern” ideologies such as liberalism, democracy, socialism, anarchism, and communism. This fact raises the question as to whether a writer who sees all modern political movements as the last masks of an intrinsic nihilism can truly be deemed an “apolitical thinker.” At any

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