Anti-Semitism Was No Sideshow to Martin Heidegger’s Thought

Martin Heidegger was one of the 20th century’s most important philosophers, and his ideas did much to shape existentialism and many other intellectual movements. He also was a member of the Nazi party and for a time an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler—facts that many scholars and thinkers long downplayed or overlooked, treating Heidegger’s political tendencies as separate from his core ideas or as simple cowardice in the face of external pressure. But the publication of his “black notebooks” over the past decade has shown that his commitment to Nazism, and to anti-Semitism, ran deep. Reviewing Richard Wolin’s book Heidegger in Ruins, Jeffrey Herf writes:

The depth of Heidegger’s anti-Semitism was frankly expressed in his many years of correspondence with his brother Fritz. In 1931, two years before Hitler came to power, Wolin tells us Heidegger wrote the following about Mein Kampf: “No one who is insightful will dispute the fact that, whereas often the rest of us remain lost in the dark, this is a man [Hitler] who is possessed of a sure and remarkable political instinct; . . . what is at stake is the redemption or destruction of Europe and Western Culture.” Until 2016, this document was omitted by those overseeing Heidegger’s collected works and correspondence.

As Heidegger scholars have demonstrated for many years, the philosopher placed the conventional political history of the Nazi regime into a grander narrative of “another Beginning” required to overcome a decline of “Being” since the Greeks. For Heidegger, Germany and the Germans occupied the exceptional status in that effort. The Jews, on the other hand, were “rootless” advocates of liberalism. “World Jewry,” a term used only by anti-Semites and made more famous by Nazi propaganda, was bereft of the redeeming depths of the Germans. Or, in Heideggerian terms: “The more primordial and original . . . future decisions and questions become, the more inaccessible they remain for this race [the Jews].”

He expressed these sentiments in the Black Notebooks written between 1939 and 1941—that is, during the years in which Hitler and Goebbels were denouncing “World Jewry” as “the Jewish enemy,” and first threatening then carrying out their extermination.

Heidegger believed that the Jews and their rootless rationalism were responsible for the arrival of modern technology, and he used that formulation to blame them for their own destruction.

Moreover, writes Herf, these ideas did not remain in the Ivory Tower: “A Heideggerian element can be found in Putin’s revanchist dictatorship and in Iran’s anti-Semitic theocracy.”

Read more at Quillette

More about: Anti-Semitism, Martin Heidegger, Nazism, Philosophy

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy