Just a brief preface in response to a question I was asked recently. Why am I so interested in the ideas of this atheist? Is it just because he returns to Christianity and sees some value in it to be plundered, like when new technology allows us to reopen a spent mine-shaft? Partly; I actually learn new stuff in these books, but also, the Church is much healthier when it is directly dealing with heresy. Why delight in being studiously ignored by our culture, preferably from the safe distance of a sub-culture? Shouldn’t we rejoice at being confronted with a new generation of heretics? We are experts again! We should return the compliment and engage with these heresiarchs in friendly competition now the previous generation of buffoonish atheists (Dawkins) are safely passe. An example: ever since the church fathers through to CS Lewis Christians wrote mainstream literary masterpieces to edify and explore the church. Pick up an old edition of Lewis and you’ll see the Times Literary Supplement review glowing on the dust-jacket. What happened?! What criminal neglect? Now we have a sub-culture that has adopted the style (of all of those it could have chosen) of the self-help paperback! The first person who decided to set up a Christian Publishing Co. should have got, as Zizek would say, at least five years in gulag.
So, today’s session. It was very good, very direct. He tackled what we do with Heidegger’s Nazism. Zizek criticised the idea that totalised Philosophies (absolutes) lead to Totalitarianism in politics; he pointed out that there is very little in Hitlerism or Stalinism that is absolute, they relied on spontaneous decisions in the moment. That is the Fuhrerprinzip, essentially. And he also attacked the idea that nothing can be taken from fascism without tainting what you put it into. In fact this relegates things like certainty, courage, national pride to the Nazis “Don’t give the Nazis all that, you lose too much”. In fact the Nazis were “not violent enough”, as in, they wasted many lives and committed many evil acts and after all that altered nothing at a fundamental level. They had a sham revolution and all the time supported the bourgeois system they said they despised. It took the defeat in 1945 to really ‘awaken’ the German volk. So what was Heidegger’s crime? He discovered many pearls, but he gave them to the pigs (nazis). What needs to be done with Heidegger is not retreat to his late work, which in it’s failure to return to politics is a negative form of fidelity to nazism (‘if not nazism, then nothing else will do for me…’) but rather reclaim pearls from his fascist political philosophy.
Controversial, but I like it. It really takes the steam out of Nazism and reveals its impotence.