Nietzsche's Jewish problem : Between Anti-Semitism and by Holub, Robert C.; Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm

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By Holub, Robert C.; Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm

For greater than a century, Nietzsche's perspectives approximately Jews and Judaism were topic to numerous polemics. The Nazis infamously formed the thinker as their anti-Semitic precursor, whereas long ago thirty years the pendulum has swung within the other way. The more and more renowned view at the present time is that Nietzsche used to be not just thoroughly freed from racist developments but in addition was once a principled adversary of anti-Jewish concept. Nietzsche's Jewish challenge offers a definitive reappraisal of the debate, taking the total old, highbrow, and biographical context under consideration. As Robert Holub indicates, a cautious attention of the entire proof from Nietzsche's released and unpublished writings and letters finds that he harbored anti-Jewish prejudices all through his life.

Nietzsche's Jewish challenge demonstrates how this is often so regardless of the obvious paradox of the philosopher's well-documented competition to the crude political anti-Semitism of the Germany of his day. As Holub explains, Nietzsche's "anti-anti-Semitism" used to be prompted extra by way of distaste for vulgar nationalism than by way of any objection to anti-Jewish prejudice.

A richly particular account of an argument that is going to the guts of Nietzsche's popularity and reception, Nietzsche's Jewish challenge will fascinate someone attracted to philosophy, highbrow heritage, or the historical past of anti-Semitism.

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Example text

Bartels thus denounces Nietzsche’s passivity in the face of the Jewish threat to German sovereignty, and in closing he cites a longer passage from The Birth of Tragedy (1872), composed at a time when Nietzsche had not yet succumbed to his unfortunate turn against his own people. 21 Subsequent völkisch commentators invented various strategies to overcome the obvious failings Bartels detected in Nietzsche’s writings. Particularly in the Weimar period Nietzsche increasingly provided a fascination The Rise and Fall of Nietzschean Anti-­S emitism • 9 for the racist right wing as he became associated with thematic complexes recognizable in retrospect as protofascist.

As we have seen, Nietzsche had undergone a transformation from anti-­anti-­Semite to anti-­Semite during the first four and a half decades of the twentieth century, but we should recognize that not everyone considered him a racist at the close of the Second World War. Many enthusiastic readers regarded his views on Jews and Judaism to be of relatively little importance for an understanding of his work and were unconcerned with Elisabeth and her alleged manipulations. The members of the Frankfurt School, for example, continued to admire Nietzsche while in exile in the United States, and although the scholars most closely associated with the Institute of Social Research were themselves Jewish, and although several prominent members wrote or conducted research on topics related to racism, anti-­Semitism, or authoritarian views, they continued to hold Nietzsche in high regard, ignoring entirely the racially informed reception history sketched above.

But certainly Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth, although she was no longer an anti-­Semite and never became a National Socialist, welcomed contributions, monetary and otherwise, from diverse ideological perspectives, including a generous gift from Mussolini;26 and her mother’s family, the Oehlers, who were integrated into management positions, leaned further to the right and eventually became active party members. In addition, the board of directors for the Archives, while pluralist, especially in the early years of the Weimar Republic, contained several right-­wing appointees, including Spengler, who joined the board in 1923.

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