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The truth is that Heidegger was a failed Nazi. Or more exactly, the Nazis were failed Heideggerians. They were supposed to come under his spiritual direction, and the Germans were supposed to become the pioneers of a great new human awakening, the children of Being... Who knows what that might actually have meant? It didn’t happen.

(About twenty years ago I heard this view of things expounded by Patrick Healy, the leading philosopher of Bewley’s cafe in Grafton Street in Dublin, before progress ground on and the cafe ceased to facilitate these idle pursuits.)

As a general rule, the decontamination campaign put the spotlight on the Jewish question. But one does find broader issues looming behind.

According to Jürgen Kaube (FAZ 12/3/2014), what Heidegger wrote about Jews proves he was anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism, though, could not have been central to his thinking, since the mentions of Jews are so few and far between. Kaube then says a certain amount of what has already been said here. Far from being a thoroughgoing Nazi, Heidegger had an essentially private, eccentric notion of Nazism, or what Nazism should be. In his public statements in 1933-4 he ignored the issue of race, even when warned by higher-ups that the racial doctrine was not an optional extra. By 1938 he saw clearly that the Nazis were hostile to his own social vision. Looking back on his famous “Rector’s address” at Freiburg University (1933), he thought: my mistake was to suppose that an institution (i.e. the university) could have Awareness. But he expressed no guilt feelings. Even if the university and the Nazis wouldn’t join him, he would be faithful to his thought.

“Later on he formulates a thought on similar lines: ‘Ruling means being King: out of such Being to act royally.’ Not just administering through bureaucratic authorities, which is all there is nowadays. So then, totally free in his opinions, he philosophises together an idea for himself, lives in a receding reality, and withdraws as ruler into his invented kingdom, where for want of fellow- inhabitants he enjoys the dubious privilege of autocratic rule.”

The intense hostility in Kaube’s paragraph is striking. And one has to pinch oneself and remember: this is being said about a philosopher living in Germany in 1938... and 1939, 1940, 1941! A time when the ruling thoughts were the thoughts of Hitler and Goebbels. The philosopher was resolved to be master in his own mind: he would not let Hitler/Goebbels give the orders there. One might perhaps have expected - a little sympathy? But Kaube has none. The clear implication in this piece of writing is that it would have been better if Heidegger had been a conventional Nazi.

Why, then, was Heidegger worse than a Nazi?

Kaube is fighting against something within himself and in such cases, of course, one doesn’t fight fair. He quotes the most desperate passages on the possible destruction of the earth, and how that would be a cleansing of Being, as if they typified the whole. “A Manicheanism of Being”, as Trawny puts it. But the Manichean death-wish is not Heidegger’s typical mood. (To people who don’t themselves know those four-o’clock-in-the-moming thoughts, they’re not easy to explain.)

We’re getting a bit closer when we come to Albion: 

“There is one enemy above all: the English. They are actually a whole enemy conglomerate: ‘The bourgeois-christian form of English ‘Bolshevism’ is the most dangerous’. After all, they invented the machine, democracy and utilitarianism, which ends up in pragmatism.”

With the English we come to technology and an outrageous Heideggerian aphorism.

“A remark he makes several times is: ‘Technology is the Historiography of Nature’, which means that technology in Nature operates just as destructively as historiography in History and is equally inadequate to its object.”

Now that's the great obscenity! There it is! Kaube is a devotee of modem demo-technocracy. For that system he is one of the guardians. And at the same time he has some intuition which tells him this frightful thinker might actually be right. (Which is why he ends his polemic by saying: it is hard to know who might read these badly-written writings! We need to talk about Heidegger, but these writings need not be read!)