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Nietzsche the Anti-semite

The Siege: The Saga of Israel and Zionism by Conor Cruise O'Brien, pp 57-58:
... Nietzsche, through his work in replacing Christian (limited) anti-semitism with anti-Christian (unlimited) anti-semitism, played a large part in opening the way for the Nazis and the Holocaust.

I am well aware that that will seem to many people an extravagant, to some even outrageous, statement. The current[67] academic convention regarding Nietzsche is to treat Nazi admiration for this thinker as due to a misunderstanding. As far as anti-semitism is concerned, it can be shown that he condemned it, occasionally. Since the Second World War there has been a consensus for excluding him from the intellectual history of anti-semitism, in which, in fact, his role is decisive.

It is true that Nietzsche detested the vulgar (and Christian) anti-semitism of his own day, especially of his brother-in-law, Bernhard Foerster. It is also true that the main thrust of Nietzsche's writing was not directed against the Jews. It was directed against Christianity. But the way in which it was directed against Christianity made it far more dangerous to Jews than to Christians.

Anti-Christian anti-semitism in itself was nothing new. The most anti-Christian of the philosophes of the eighteenth century–Voltaire especially–were also anti-semitic, though not consistently so.[68] What was new in Nietzsche, however, was the ethical radicalism of his sustained onslaught on Christianity. The Enlightenment tradition, on the whole, had respected, and even to a great extent inculcated–throught its advocacy of tolerance–the Christian ethic, the Sermon on the Mount.

Nietzsch's message was that the Christian ethic was poison; its emphasis on mercy reversed the true Aryan values of fierceness; "pride, serverity, strength, hatred revenge." And the people responsible for this transvaluation of values (Umwertung des Wertes), the root of all evil, were the Jews.

In The Antichrist he writes about the Gospels:
One is among Jews–the first consideration to keep from losing the threat completely–Paul and Christ were little superlative Jews. ... One would no more associate with the first Christians than one would with Polish Jews–they both do not smell good. ... Pontius Pilate is the only figure in the New Testament who commands respect. To take a Jewish affair seriously–he does not persuade himself to do that. One Jews more or less–what does it matter?
Nietzsche's real complaint against the vulgar Christian anti-semites of his day was that they were not anti-semitic enough; that they did not realize that they were themselves carriers of that semitic infection, Christianity.[69] "The Jews," he wrote in The Antichrist, "have made mankind so thoroughly false that even today the Christian can feelanti-Jewish without realizing that he is himself the ultimate Jewish consequence."
I think this is convincing. And important. Does anyone disagree or know more about it?

Elliot Temple on August 30, 2013


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