Nazis and Nietzsche
During the latter parts of the Nineteenth Century, the German existentialist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote a great deal on his ideas of morality, values, and life. His writings were controversial, but they greatly affected European thought. It can be argued that Nietzschean philosophy was a contributing factor in the rise of what is considered our world's most awful empire, the Third Reich.
‹Such a stance is based on the fact that there are very similar currents in thought between the philosophy and the empire.
‹ For example, history will, one would hope, never forget the atrocity that was the Holocaust. The notion that a civilized nation could choose to hate one group so much, to the point of barbaric genocide, seems unconscionable to most. However, the anti-Semitism that prompted the Holocaust had a fairly long history in Europe as a whole. Nietzsche, though he wrote of rethinking or rejecting the values and beliefs of the society, held to a fierce anti-Semitic viewpoint. Nietzsche, in "Beyond Good and Evil," quotes Tacitus in saying that the Jews were born for slavery, and claims that Jews as a whole have inverted any and all proper values. Indeed, he seems to blame Judaism for what he would call the upside-down values of the world, saying:
‹ life on earth has acquired a novel and dangerous
‹ attraction for a couple of millenia: their prophets
‹ have fused `rich,' `godless,' `evil,' `violent,' and
‹ `sensual' into one and were the first to use the
‹ word `world' as an opprobrium. This inversion of
‹ values (which include using the word `poor' as
‹ synonymous with `holy' and `friend') constitutes the
‹ significance of the Jewish people: they mark the
‹ beginning of the slave rebellion in morals(1234).
‹The last comment implies that the Jews are responsible for the oppression of the "free spirits" of mankind, and with that sentence, Nietzsche certainly appears to hold a grudge. (There are cross-references to other potentially anti-Semitic passages, but they have been edited out of the Morgan text.)
‹ Coupled with this anti-Semitism is a definite sense of racialized thought. Nietzsche writes that his age is an age of disintegration that "mixes races indiscriminately"(1237). He says that such "human beings of late cultures and refracted lights will on the average be weaker human beings"(1237). He claims that the war that would exist in a person of mixed race, both biologically and culturally, would lead them to the safety and security of blind faith in a religion, or the values of the society. He therefore appears to conclude that only men of clean racial identity can be truly great, because they would have no internal conflicts. This view is rather illogical, for he assumes that a mixed race person has internal, biomechanical conflict, because of the assumption that the races are so truly...