Pierre Joris

First of all, an insistent reference to the West and to "Western
Civilization," a theme or lexicon whose careless manipulation has
often slid over into rather undemocratic theses, as we know now from
experience, especially when it is a question of a "decadence" of the
said Western Civilization. As soon as anyone talks about "decadence of
Western Civilization," I am on my guard. We know that this kind of
talk can sometimes (not always) lead to restorations or installations
of an authoritarian, even totalitarian order.
			Jacques Derrida, "Like the Sound of the Sea
Deep within a Shell: Paul de Man's War", Critical Inquiry(page 601)


	The American publication of Victor Farias' book Heidegger and
Fascism 1, though unlikely to cause the same kind of storm its orginal
French publication did two years previously, is nevertheless bound to
retable the question of Heidegger's political stance and engagement.
The recent polemic concerning the young Paul de Man's involvement with
fascism seems now to be fading, possibly suggesting a certain
lassitude among the intellectual community. It would be most
unfortunate if this caused the Farias book to slip by unnoticed. What
follows does not purport to be an exhaustive examination of the
questions announced in the title: the hypertrophied size of the
current literature concerning these problems would make such an
undertaking impossible in the limited context of this essay. Rather,
what I propose to do is to ex- amine the problem of Heidegger's
politics, with special reference to the University, in the light of
four books recently published in France2, while drawing on a number of
other essays, reviews and magazine articles published in that country
over the last two years3, as well as on some work concerning these
matters published in the US.  That time period has witnessed, in
relation to Heidegger, what the French call 'un scandale', triggered
by the publication of Farias' book. This scandal, rather than
remaining confined to the hallowed halls of the university and the
'specialists' in Heidegger studies, instantly became a major media
affair, turning Farias' book overnight into a controversial
best-seller. Ever since, an unceasing stream of articles, essays,
statements, rebuttals & "I-told-you-so's", instant books on the
subject and television appearances by the major tenors of the Parisian
intelligentsia, have kept the scandal simmering, if not on the boil.

	Except for Lacoue-Labarthe's essay, which had been in
elaboration for quite some time, and parts of which had appeared over
the last years (published by the University of Strasbourg, for
example), the books I am mainly concerned with were written in the
wake of the publication of Farias' vehement, not to say defamatory,
attack on Heidegger. I will therefore start with a brief summary of
the latter book, before moving on to Fédier's essay which
attempts a point for point rebuttal of Farias' positions from the
point of view of a strict heideggerian. Finally, I will turn to
Lacoue- Labarthe's seminal analysis of the politics of fascism, an
analysis which goes far beyond both Farias and Fédier's
positions and tries to come to terms with the question Adorno put: is
Heidegger's philosophy "fascist in its most intimate components"?
Lyotard's essay and the Ferry/Renaud analysis will be discussed at
relevant moments of the essay.

	Victor Farias' book, "Heidegger et le nazisme" claims to the
be both the most complete and most revelatory, in-depth
literary-historical analysis of Heidegger's political believes and
activities, especially of his relation to National-Socialism. Farias
sets himself up as an ex-student of Heidegger, and, as Hugo Ott notes
in the review4 we will discuss in more detail later on, Farias did
take part in the seminar on Heraklitus which Heidegger taught together
with Eugen Fink during the winter semester 1966/67 in Freiburg. But
this seems to be the only link to Heidegger: Farias graduated in 67 in
Freiburg under Gerhardt Schmidt (a student of Eugen Fink's) with a
thesis on Franz Brentano. The only other connection is Farias's claim
in interviews with media after the success of his book, that Heidegger
opposed a proposed translation of Being and Time into Spanish,
supposedly because he considered the latter an inferior language,
incapable of expressing his thought. Ott playfully suggests that this
"rejection" of Farias by Heidegger may have "traumatized" the young
Chilean philosopher - the motive for the Oedipian "crime"?

	Be that as it may, Heidegger et le Nazisme is certainly not a
disinterested or 'objective' study of the German philosopher. The
admittedly vast amount of informations and documents Farias has
gathered, are marshalled not with the aim of making a dispassionate
presentation of the facts, or of opening up a debate that has been
simmering away on the back burner for a long time5, but with the
avowed intention of serving as buttresses for Farias' main project,
which is best described as a savage attempt to demolish Heidegger's
thought by suggesting that fascism was the mainspring, both
intellectually and politically, of the philosopher's life-long
undertak- ing.

	Before going into a detailed analysis of the French reactions
to the Farias book, it may be useful to relate a more dispassionate
view from outside France. Hugo Ott, probably the best-known German
specialist in matters Heidegger (his biography of the philosopher,
Unterwegs zu einer Biographie, came out earlier this fall), reviewed
the Farias book for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung . He starts by
pointing out that, although the book first came out in France in late
1987 (originally written in German and Spanish, it is only after the
book's success in France that a German edition was projected6), the
manuscript must have been finished by 1985, as Farias does not make
use of material published in 1986, material that would have buttressed
his position, such as Karl Löwith's Mein Leben in Deutschland, or
the Erhart Kästner-Martin Heidegger correspondence, which gives a
detailed account of the origin, procedure and importance of the

	Ott then points out in which ways Farias' book adds to our
historical knowledge of the "Heidegger and National-Socialism"
question: the author did have access to archival material in the
German Democratic Republic, such as the proceedings of the Prussian
Ministry of Culture and of the Reich's Ministry for Science, Art and
"Volksbildung". These archives are essentially off-limits for West
German citizens, but accessible to foreigners. What can now be judged,
says Ott, is:

	"...was genau Heideggers 'politischer Auftrag' war, der mit
dem zweiten Berliner Ruf im Herbst 1933 verbunden war: nämlich
der Plan eine Reichsakademie zu schaffen unter der
Präsidentschaft Heideggers. Bisher wussten wir nur, dass er eine
"Preussische Dozentenakademie" leiten sollte, wir wussten auch, dass
die NS-internen Gegner Heideggers Jaensch (Heidegger's
langjähriger philosophischer Kollege in Marburg) und Krieck sich
vehement diesen Plänen widersetzten und das Amt Rosenberg

	But, says Ott, "these are already questions of detail", and
proceeds to discuss what is clearly the weakest point in the Farias
book, namely the latter's framing device: the claim that both the
beginning and the end of Heidegger's career stand in the shadow of
Abraham a Sancta Clara, a medieval Capuchin monk from
Kreenheinstetten, a village near Heidegger's birth place, Messkirch,
"a powerful preacher in Vienna, during the time of the wars against
the Turks". Abraham a Sancta Clara, a declared and vocal antisemite,
was indeed the subject of a (one-page7!) paper by the young theology
student Heidegger in 1910 (on the occasion of the inauguration of a
monument in his honor in Messkirch), and again in 1964 when Heidegger
gave a conference in the same city, entitled: "On Abraham a Sancta
Clara". But as Ott shows, the relationship is tenuous and Farias can
only make as much of it as he does by "freely associating - for all
its worth", i.e. by using a "methodisches Spezifikum" which, for the
historian at least, is more than dubious. It is indeed the weakest
point of the Farias book, suffering from the general shoddiness and
vagueness of Farias' thinking - "sobald es ans Deuten geht, wird es
bei Farias problematisch", ("as soon as Farias tries to interpret,
things become problematic"), as Ott puts it. It remains, how- ever,
that the Heidegger-Sancta Clara relationship could be worth
investigating by a more serious historiographer, if only because it
may give us a better insight into the cultural crucible from which
Heidegger emerged - and to which he kept returning.

	Ott then points out a couple obvious howlers Farias committed,
and which every other critic and reviewer, sympathetic of inimical to
Farias's thesis, has also noted: the (voluntary?) misinterpretation of
the word "Kapauner" ( the name used by the locals to refer to the
theology students in Konstanz, which Farias links to "Capuchin" monks,
enabling him to further link Heidegger with Sancta Clara, though the
word in fact refers to a capon), and the association of
"Sachsenhausen" in an old German saying ("War and peace are as closely
linked as Frankfurt and Sachsenhausen"), used by Abraham a Sancta
Clara and quoted by Heidegger in his 1964 Messkirch conference on the
Augustiner monk, with the concentration camp of the same name
(situated near Berlin) rather then with the Frankfurt suburb meant in
the saying.

	As far as the other main thesis - the SA thesis - of the
Farias book is concerned, one needs to withhold judgment for the time
being. Briefly, according to this thesis Heidegger, the
ultraconservatist "Blut und Boden" revolutionary, had always been and
remained a firm backer of Röhm's SA movement. It is when the SA
and Röhm were wiped out by Hitler and the SS, that Heidegger is
supposed to have gone into opposition: in that sense, Farias claims,
Heidegger was a life-long "heretical" National- Socialist ideologue
opposed to the SS usurpers whom he considered as betrayers of the real
National-Socialist doctrine. Thus his troubles with the regime after
1934 could be ascribed purely to this "heretical" position within the
movement itself.

	Much could be said for this thesis, and Farias of course tries
to milk it for all its worth, overstating his case in the
process. There simply is not enough accurate data available at this
point. The one utterance by Heidegger which seems to link him to the
SA comes in the posthumously published article "Das Rektorat 1933/34,"
in which he states that "by the spring of 1934 I was aware of the
consequences of my resignation [as rector]; I was totally clear about
them after 30 June of that year. Whoever accepted a position in the
administration of the university after that date had to know without
the shadow of a doubt with whom he was involved.8" That date (30 June
1934) is of course the date of "the night of the long knives" when
Hitler had his SS physically eliminate the SA and Röhm. However,
Heidegger's formulation is, to say the least, ambiguous: Is it the
lawless brutality of the massacre that reveals to him the criminal
nature of the regime, or is it the fact that the victims of the
massacre were Röhm and the SA, and that now it is the SS who ran
the "revolution"? At this point there does not seem to be a sure way
of deciding either way, and we may never know unless new evidence,
buttressing one side or the other of the argument, came to light,
possibly after the Heidegger archives become accessible, something
that will not happen until next century. Ott dismisses Farias' SA
theory and suggests that in fact towards the end of the rectorat
Heidegger was in conflict with the SA-students at the university,
though this, it would seem to me, does not necessarily disprove a
possible gut-al- legiance to Röhm's early SA ideology.

	Here is how Ott finally sums up his view of the Farias book:

Farias' Verdienst liegt in der Sammlung neuer Quellen und in ihrer
positivistischen Aufbereitung. Viele Fakten. Er gelangt jedoch rasch
an seine Grenzen, wo die Inter- pretation ansetzt, und vor allem, wo
der Zusammenhang von politischer Praxis und dem Denken Heideggers
erhellt werden müsste. Aber gerade das sollte man von einem
Philosophen erwarten. Ansatzweise ist der Versuch unternommen. Doch
überzeugen diese Ansätze nicht, z.B. das Bemühen, die
Schlageter-Rede vom Mai 1933 mit "Sein und Zeit" zu korrelieren.

	The German historiographer's cool evaluation is indeed a far
cry from the hysterical reception the book got in France. When it came
out in October 1987, the scandal was instant and ubiquitous: rather
than merely stirring up the intellectual and university communities,
it spread like wildfire, a conflagration fanned by the eagerness of
the media who took the scandal up for all it was worth, vide the daily
Libération and its front page headlines which read: HEIL
HEIDEGGER. In his review Ott jokes: "In France the sky has collapsed -
le ciel des philosophes. " Understandably so," he claims, because
"France's clocks work differently": While in Germany most of the facts
and even some of the details of the Farias book were well-known,
France had al- ways done its best to hide these facts from itself9.

	What does seem characteristically odd is the fact that the
backers and defenders of the Farias book can be, along the French
spectrum, more or less identified with the new right, via the
so-called Nouveaux Philosophes: Heidegger et le nazisme was prefaced
by Christian Jambet and the most spirited defense of the book was
Heidegger et les Modernes, published in Grasset's collection 'Figures'
directed by Bernard-Henri Lévy, and written by Luc Ferry and
Alain Renaut, who had made a fairly good-sized splash with an essay
called La Pensée 68, a virulent critique of and attack on
leftwing thought as it emerged in the sixties via Foucault, Lacan,
Derrida and Althusser. But it should be noted that the wide appeal of
this affair has deeper reasons than a mere 'querelle de chapelle'. In
late 1987 the French public was primed for this question: the
television showing of Claude Lanzman's film Shoa,10 the widely
publicized discussions that followed, and the long drawn-out trial,
constantly in the news, of the SS muderer Klaus Barbie, "the butcher
of Lyon," had certainly sensitized a good part of the
population. Rivalry among the intellectual community used this fact to
the hilt - for their own purposes, in most cases, i.e., the discussion
turned all too often into a 'R¸glement de comptes at Sorbonne

	 In an early response to the book Jacques Derrida observed:
"As far as the essential 'facts' are concerned, I haven't discovered
anything in this investigation that had not been known, and for a long
time, to those with a serious interest in Heidegger."11 This slightly
blasé stance was shared and echoed by many of the more moderate
French defenders of Heidegger (Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Michel
Deguy, for instance), while others, such as François
Fédier, Pierre Aubenque or Gérard Granel12, clearly go
overboard in a defense of Heidegger, or rather in attacks on Farias
verging more often than not on the hysterical. Rather than trying to
argue with Farias, their strategy is one of unrelenting, global and
abusive attack: Farias' work is seen as a "shameless falsification"
"animated by a desire to occult the truth"13; it is an "delirium of
interpretation", an "imposture", a "hodgepotch" of "insinuations"
which, were Heidegger alive today, would have landed the author "in a
court of law"14. The book is simply dismissed, in that most favorite
of French insults, as essentially a "stalinist trial"15: by claiming
to show that the author's intentions are biased, one can then simply
evacuate all the information he brings to his thesis. This is of
course to be expected from France, where Heidegger's reputation has
for a long time been that of an untouchable cult figure - a reputation
that goes back, and is due in great part, to the unremitting
proselytizing of Jean Baufret16 and François Fédier, the
former's heir as Heidegger's unconditional French champion.

	A closer look at François Fédier's response will
give us an insight into the methodology of the unconditional
Heideggerians. Ferry/Renaud call this "degree zero of interpretation",
"the pure and simple refusal to consider Heidegger's philosophy, if
not on the basis of, then at least in relation to17" his political
involvement. Fédier is in that sense the faithful disciple of
Jean Beaufret. As late as 1984 the latter dismissed any questioning of
Heidegger's politics by bringing up René Char's war-time record
as a resistant fighter and the fact that General Eisenhower had
thanked Char personally, to suggest, rather ludicrously, that none of
Heidegger's critics had been so honored!  He then claims that
"Heidegger never did anything that could motivate the allegations
leveled at him," that any political interpretation of his philosophy
is "a conspiracy of mediocre people in the name of mediocrity", ending
by lamely suggesting that, in his as well as in Char's mind, it is
"simply charitable not to go into any further details."18

	Fédier's essay in Le débat , intitled
"L'Intention de nuire", which one could translate as "With harmful
intentions", sets the tone. First off, he decries Farias, noting that
two German publishers refused to publish his book, and then goes on to
point out the same mistakes we have already seen when analyzing Ott's
review. Fédier, in contradistinction to Ott, insists on the
supposedly willed mistakes, suggesting that the whole of Farias' work
is simply a fabrication, an attempt to discredit Heidegger's
thought. He carefully avoids bringing up any of the new information
Farias' book uncovers, and stubbornly holds to the classical line19,
which admits that Heidegger made a mistake by accepting the rectorate;
that the mistake was heroic, in that Hei- degger thought he could
influence Nazi cultural policy for the better; that during the
rectorate he behaved with dignity - "forbidding as far as he could all
acts of barbary such as anti-semitic autodafés"; and that
Heidegger realized his mistake quickly, ending his involvement with
national-socialism when he gave up the post in February 1934.
Fédier clearly felt that this article was not enough, and, in
the late spring of 1988, brought out a book-length denunciation of
Farias, Heidegger: anatomie d'un scandale.

	This book does not convince any more than the article in Le
Débat and is essentially a restatement of the Beaufret line of
defense. Faced with Farias' facts, Fédier's method is no less
cavalier than the former's. The basic line of defense consists in
pitching the Farias allegations against Heidegger's own statements
concerning his involvement with the nazis, especially the article "Das
Rektorat 1933-1934" (in Fédier's own translation). And to
triumphantly conclude that Farias must be making it up, given that
Heidegger has a different version of the facts, and that Heidegger's
word has to be taken at face value. That the work of Ott and others
has shown that "Das Rektorat 1933-1934" is a clear attempt by
Heidegger to whitewash himself, both by omission and distortion of the
known facts, is not mentioned by Fédier who, as France's main
orthodox heideggerian, can or should not be ignorant of the findings
of German heideggerian historiography.

	A further objection to Heidegger: anatomie d'un scandale are
basic mistaken allegations and suggestions. Fédier claims for
example that Farias' bad faith is shown by the fact that he always
gives the German "Volk" as "peuple aryen". I found only three such
occasions: on page 136, and twice on page 175, and in all cases
"aryen" is put between brackets. Aside from the fact that this may be
due primarily to Farias' French translators (the original manuscript
is in German and Spanish), there is no question that the translation
of "Volk" presents problems, and the French word "peuple" does not
give the very loaded connotations the word had in Germany in the
1930s. In fact, there had already been a long and heated debate around
the translation of that word and its adjectival form "völkisch"
in France in the 1960s, with Fédier arguing against any
political overtones in the word, attacking Jean-Pierre Faye's
contention that the word holds connotations that could validly suggest
translations such as "popular", "populist". "national" and even
"racial"20. Fédier himself has given what one can only call
sanitized French translations of certain of Heidegger's texts, among
them the famous Rektorat Rede.  "Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen
Universität", ("The Self-affirmation of the German University")
becomes in Fédier's pseudo-heideggerian French
"L'Université allemande envers et contre tout elle-même"
- a transparent attempt to de-politicize and defuse the title of a
text that poses major problems concerning its political intentions.

	More reasoned and responsible direct responses to Farias's
suggestions are hard to come by in France. Pierre Bourdieu's
L'Ontologie Politique de Martin Heidegger, for example, is simply a
reworked and slightly expanded text first published in 1975, and now
reissued in book-form, with the obvious desire to cash in on the
Heidegger/fascism craze of 1987/8821. In fact, the most interesting
French writings on Heidegger's fascism, run parallel to Heidegger et
le Nazisme: both Derrida's and Lacoue-Labarthe's books had either been
completed or were well-advanced when the Farias book came out. The one
book clearly written after the "scandale" started is
Jean-François Lyotard's Heidegger et "les juifs". Let's turn to
it for a moment.

	The first part of Lyotard's book is not directly involved with
Heidegger's fascism, or with Heidegger the thinker, but continues the
author's recent investigations around the Kantian notion of the
sublime, its relation to modern art and writing, Adorno's aesthetics,
and, before all, Lyotard's concern with "l'oubli", the forgotten,
"l'oubli oublié", and "l'immémorial", while articulating
the Freudian concepts of primary and secondary Verdrängung with
these concepts. It is only from page 88 on that he ad- dresses the
question of Heidegger directly. He begins by laying down four rules to
be observed in any attempt to "bring to justice" the case in
question. These rules seem to me worthwhile to repeat here, as they
apply not only in Lyotard's own work, but seem generally valid:

	1) The importance of Heidegger's thought has to be admitted,
for, says Lyotard, without that recognition, Heidegger's "faute"
(Lyotard uses the term Lacoue-Labarthe employs; the word "faute" is
stronger than "erreur", error, and implies a sense of misdeed, or even
of sin) would "unhappily be ordinary".

	2) One has to admit that Heidegger's involvement with Nazism
was "not anecdotal, but deliberate, profound and, in a certain way,
ongoing..... One can hear that compromise in the texts Heidegger
signs, in those he gives as speeches without signing them... in the
political texts, but also in the philosophical ones... Before all, one
hears it in his silence concerning the extermination [of the Jews], a
silence maintained to the very last, except for a single sentence."

	3) "One does not erase one of these first two conditions in
favor of the other". By this Lyotard means that one cannot solve the
problem by reducing it to a play of alternatives that would go
something like: if Heidegger was a great thinker than he was not a
nazi, or, its corollary, if Heidegger was a nazi, then he was not a
great thinker.

	4) One must not remain satisfied with the affirmation of "the
coexistence of the two heideggerian sides, the venerable and the
ignoble, and the diagnosis of a fissure [clivage]."

	He then proceeds to show how Heidegger's political
entanglements are related to his thinking, how the thinking of Sein
und Zeit, especially as relating to the notion of dread when applied
to the destiny of the community, the Volk, may allow for the politics
of fascism, even though it does not necessitate, or even authorize
these politics.  The authorization comes, says Lyotard when commenting
on Derrida's deconstruction of Heidegger's use of the words "geist",
"geistig", "geistlich", exactly at that point when Heidegger lets
spirit in, and with it, "one of the most insistent axioms of
(Christian) European metaphysics,"22 thus being unfaithful to his own
essential thinking. But this is not all, for the "Kehre" itself does
not remedy this lack, though it replaces Entscheidung with Dichtung,
and "the effectuation of destiny" with "waiting for the god."23
Something deeper is wrong here, says Lyotard, and situates it in the
"existential-ontological approach itself."24 He then goes on to
delineate two "motives" of the "topos of art" - and here his analysis
rejoins Lacoue-Labarthe's work in the latter's La Fiction du
politique, which, as I have said earlier, seems to me to be the most
interesting among the recent critiques of Heidegger, and to which we
shall now turn.

	Lacoue-Labarthe's basic contention is this: Heidegger's
political involvement in 1933 is in no way an "error", it is clearly
inscribed in Heidegger's thought from the beginning on, and absolutely
coherent with his thinking, so much so that the combining of the
"political" and the "philosophical" was so powerful that up until 1944
nearly all Heidegger's teaching was devoted to an "explication" with
national-socialism, and the "truth" which Heidegger had, or had
believed to have seen in it. "The temp- tation is great," writes
Lacoue-Labarthe25, "to credit the involvement of 33 to some breakdown,
to a sudden lack of vigilance, or even, and more seriously, to the
pressure of a thought not yet sufficiently freed from metaphysics. But
that would be to forget that metaphysics, at least under that form of
an unuprootable Trieb as recognized by Kant and Nietzsche, lies at the
most secret heart of thought itself. "Thinking", if there is such a
thing as "thought", can never claim to be "freed" from metaphysics."

	That is why one cannot speak of an "error" in Heidegger's
case. It could only be considered an error, a mistake, if
national-socialism had not carried the possibility Heidegger saw in

	"Or, manifestement il la portait, en certains de ses traits au
moins, eu égard au destin de l'Allemagne et au destin de
l'Occident. La détresse (Not) qui commande l'insurrection
nationale-socialiste, comme elle commande la protestation du Discours
du Rectorat,.....est encore, et peut-être surtout,
l'inquiétude ou même l'effroi devant l'épuisement
du projet moderne o¯ se rel¸ve son être
catastrophique. Auncune emphase ne contraint Heidegger à
invoquer, au centre du Discours du Rectorat, le mot de Niezsche: "Dieu
est mort": ce mot vient dire exactement la circonstance,
c'est-à-dire l'être-abandonné ou la
déréliction (Verlassenheit) de " l'homme d'aujourd'hui
au milieu de l'étant."26

	Thus Lacoue-Labarthe can say that in 1933 Heidegger "ne s'est
pas trompé" , has made no error. But that by 1934 he knows that
he made an error. This error, still according Lacoue-Labarthe and as
far as Heidegger is concerned, does not concern the truth of Naziism
but its reality. None of this is really new, though Lacoue-Labarthe's
analysis is indeed the most nuanced French view of the "affaire" - and
we will come back to his thinking concerning the concatenation of
Heidegger's philosophy and praxis in relation to the University in the
second part of this paper.

	Where Lacoue-Labarthe's book is most interesting however is
when he links what Brecht and Walter Benjamin called fascist
"aesthetization of politics," and Heidegger's focus on the work of art
after the Kehre.  Indeed, Heidegger's lecture "On the Origin of the
Work of Art" in 1936 coincides roughly with Hitler's Nuremberg "art
speeches" which proclaim that great architecture was necessary for a
great nation. In his review of the book, Michael Zimmerman suggests
that "Heidegger's account of the world-organizing role of the Greek
temple provided a philosophical interpretation of such political
architecture" while at the same time offering "an implicit critique of
the National Socialist 'aesthetic' of giant public spectacles.27

	 Lacoue-Labarthe shows how this aesthetization is not
necessarily confined to the politics of fascism but is indeed
inscribed in the Greek origins of Western civilization: the polis, the
city, and thus the politics of that polis as an aesthetic work of art,
a kind of early Gesamtkunstwerk.  (The title of Lacoue-Labarthe's
book, La fiction du politique, points to this fusion, or confusion.)
National Socialism was thus a kind of "National Aestheticism" in that
it "fictionalized" politics by conceiving, as Zimmerman puts it, " the
nation-state as a self-organizing, self-producing work of art, a
national version of the Gesamtkunstwerk of which Wagner dreamed at
Bayreuth," :

Rejecting the French Enlightment imitatio of the Latin Roman world,
many Germans - including Heidegger - made the paradoxical and
self-destructive attempt to imitate not the content of Greek culture,
but instead the Greek capacity for creating something radically
new. Lacoue-Labarthe argues that such self-invention led to
"mythification", aspects of which are discernable not only on National
Socialist rhetoric, but also in Heidegger's interpretation of
Hölderlin as Germany's Homer.

 	These are also the motives Lyotard addresses in the last
chapters of his book, and in specific reference to Lacoue-Labarthe's
work. This is however not the place to enter into the detail of these
discussions, or even to deal with Lyotard and Lacoue- Labarthe's
concern with what they see as Heidegger's gravest "faute": his silence
in the face of the extermination of the Jews. In the second part of
this essay I will try to deal with Heidegger's thought and politics as
they involve the institution in which he spent most of his life, and
in which his own political praxis was most visible: the university.


	In his review of Farias' Heidegger et le nazisme, Thomas
Sheehan sums up the political situation of Heidegger as follows28:

In outline, the story of Heidegger and the Nazis concerns (1) a
provincial, ultraconservative German nationalist and, at least from
1932 on, a Nazi sympathizer (2) who, three months after Hitler took
power, became rector of Freiburg University, joined the NSDAP, and
tried unsuccessfully to become the philosophical Führer of the
Nazi movement, (3) who quit the rectorate in 1934 and quietly
dissociated himself from some aspects of the Nazi party while
remaining an enthusiastic supporter of its ideals, (4) who was
dismissed from teaching in 1945, only to be reintegrated into the
university in 1951, and who even after his death in 1976 continues to
have an im- mense following in Europe and America.

	As a summing up the facts, this is more or less accurate. But
it does leave unanswered the major question: how could Heidegger's
thought lead him to align himself with the politics of the NSDAP? How
could he accept the rectorate of the university of Freiburg, and,
after quitting that post, continue to militate within the
national-socialist intelligentsia for leadership positions and the
creation of new institutions for Geisteswissenschaft?

	The easiest explanation would be to simply say that the
"ultra-conservative German nationalist," the viscerally anti-marxist
south German catholic (one of whose favorite political theorist's was
Friedrich Naumann), the firm believer in a strong, autocratic
wilheminian state, won out over the philosopher of Sein und Zeit.  But
this does not really resolve anything. An external critique,
historical or psychological, tells us nothing of the work, or, rather
tends to incite one to simply dismiss Heidegger's thought; on the
other hand, a purely internal critique of his thinking, while capable
of showing up flaws in Heidegger's thinking, will have to do so in the
philosophical context of the work and risks to remain stuck there. The
difficulty resides precisely in the articulation of an internal
critique with a critique of the external praxis .

	One way in may be to to examine certain essential concepts in
Heidegger's philosophy, or at least to show that some of his
presuppositions would inexorably give permission to a totalitarian
politics, either on the grand scale of the state or on the smaller
scale of an organization such as the university, i.e. the space in
which Heidegger's social praxis took place. One of the more obvious
concepts to choose in that context, is the notion of decline. The
inevitable decline of occidental civilization was a common topos of
German (and European) intellectual considerations from the late 19
Century on. This notion of decline is implicitly (and, indeed,
explicitly) present at the very root of Heidegger's questioning and
underpins much of his work, starting with Sein und Zeit. As Sheehan
puts it: "For Heidegger, Europe had entered upon a climactic - in fact
the "eschatological" - phase of the "forgottenness of Being" that had
plagued the West since Plato." Renaut gives a convincing analysis of
this problem in an early essay29, and then, with Ferry, takes it up
again in Heidegger et les modernes.  I will follow their analysis in
most details.

	According to these two writers, the notion of the decline was
described by Heidegger as a possibility inherent in man, as, in fact,
"a structure of human existence (Dasein) ," though, it seemed that,
for Being and Time, "this possibility actualized itself electively in
what the later texts would describe as the modern era".30 Using
¤¤ 21, 27, and 43-a of Sein und Zeit, they proceed to show that
the ground of the declining history of ontology (the forgetting of
Being) has to be situated in the elective orientation of the fallen
Dasein towards what is available for its preoccupation: "The
connecting of the decline of thought and of human decay could not be
made more explicit".31 This of course poses a problem: Sein und Zeit
insists on the quasi- structural character of the "decline", which,
belonging to the very being of Dasein, is an "existential" and thus
defines "the permanent and immediate nature of being- there". The
decline (Verfallenheit) is thus no accident that would befall Being
from the outside, but a"Seins-modus des Daseins" and even a"Grundart
des Seins des Da" : Dasein is always already in decline.

	Where Ferry/Renaut now see a problem is in the fact that this
always-already effected structural decline is put in relation with the
historical decline of ontology, i.e., "if Greek ontology had not yet
been the complete victim of such a forgetting [of Being], then one has
to believe that in a certain way Greek Dasein had not yet fallen into
decline as much as modern Dasein. As a consequence, the decline,
structural in the aforementioned texts, has also to appear as
historical, and even as historically variable."32 This admixture of
the structural and the historical is visible throughout Being and
Time, for example in Heidegger treatment of the "they":

The "they" is an existentiale; and as a primordial phenomenon, it
belongs to Dasein's positive constitution. It itself has, in turn,
various possibilities of becoming concrete as something characteristic
of Dasein [seiner daseinsmässigen Konkretion].  The extent to
which its dominion becomes compelling and explicit may change in the
course of history.33

But how then can one explain these historical variations of the
decline? On what or on whom do they depend? According to the structure
of the "always-already", the decline should be independent of any
strictly individual determination, should in principle have nothing to
do with any particular Dasein. And yet it is exactly the
particularized Dasein that can escape, according to Heidegger, this
decline of Being, through the mediation of dread:

Anxiety thus takes away from Dasein the possibility of understanding
itself, as it falls, in terms of the 'world' and the way things have
been publicly interpreted. Anxiety throws Dasein back upon that which
it is anxious about - its authentic potentiality-
for-Being-in-the-world. (p.232)

and, further on in the same ¤:

...as Dasein falls, anxiety brings it back from its absorption in the
'world'. (p. 233)

to conclude that:

...in anxiety there lies the possibility of a disclosure which is
quite distinctive; for anxiety individualizes. This individualization
brings Dasein back from its falling, and makes manifest to it that
authenticity and inauthenticity are possibilities of its Being.
(p. 235)

	It thus becomes possible to fight the Verfallenheit of Dasein,
and this becomes a responsibility man has at the present
"eschatological" end of the modern world's decline. It is in this
sense that the possibility and even desirability of political activism
is inscribed in Heidegger's 1927 book. This is in fact obvious as soon
as the concept of the historicity of Dasein has been established, and
indeed, the whole second part of Being and Time, is, as Lyotard puts
it "dedicated to the power Dasein has, and notably that destiny called
Volk, to escape inauthenticity and to open itself to the advent of its

	It is therefore difficult to believe Heidegger when he claims,
after the event, that it took much doing to convince him to become
rector: the image he tries to project, namely that of the solitary
philosopher working in his mountain retreat on Heraklitus and who only
very reluctantly lets himself be persuaded to take on the task of the
rectorate, looks now like a transparent attempt to claim à
posteriori an uninvolvement with, and even ignorance of, the political
power struggles of 1933.

	Heidegger's aim was to "revolutionize" the university. A brief
analysis of the Rektoratsrede and other texts from that period will
give us some insight into how Heidegger conceived of this revolution,
and will show that, no matter what validity much of his thinking may
and does still hold for us today, his own praxis was, to say the
least, undemocratic and deeply reprehensible. In his Rektoratsrede the
philosopher-turned-rector sets his priorities straight: the address
begins with the assertion of the necessity for a "geistige
Führung". Derrida's already mentioned book, De l'Esprit, cogently
analyses and critiques Heidegger's use of the word "Geist", early on
banned or used only between quotation marks or under erasure, for
being one of the central terms of the onto-theological tradition, and
thus metaphysical, but resusci- tated in all its (worst) connotations
in Heidegger's political writings.
	The notion of "Führung" and of "Führer," although
inevitably subject to the darkest connotations given its
socio-historical context, should however not be reduced to a mere echo
of Hitlerian cynical manipulation; on the other hand neither can it be
simply equated with Plato's basileia, as Lacoue-Labarthe does when he
attempts to show that this "error" of Heidegger could be seen as a
slipping back into the philosophical or onto-theological tradition of
Platonic politics and thinking. The ambiguous way in which Heidegger
himself tried to understand the notion of the Führer can be
glimpsed in the following extract from the speech he gave on 11
November 1933, asking for active participation in Hitler's

Das deutsche Volk ist vom Führer zur Wahl gerufen; der
Führer aber erbittet nichts vom Volke, er gibt vielmehr dem Volke
die unmittelbarste Möglichkeit der höchsten freien
Entscheidung, ob das ganze Volk sein eigenes Dasein will, oder ob es
dieses nicht will. Das Volk wählt morgen nichts Geringeres als
seine Zukunft.

	The suggestion being that the Führer "offers" a "free
choice" to the people. But, without being glib, one can say that this
was "an offer the people could not refuse," in fact, no free choice at
all. Unhappily there does not seem to be any specific text in which
Heidegger clearly thinks through the concept of the Führer, and
we have to rely on his own praxis as rector to deduce what this notion
could mean for him. As Lyotard points out36, terms like Wahl,
Entscheidung, Volksentscheidung, Volk, Arbeit, etc. have complex
ramifications that will link them on the one hand with Heidegger's own
philosophical writings and thought and on the other with the thinking
of writers such as Carl Schmitt or Ernst Jünger.

	But no matter what the benefits of a discussion of the
theoretical origins of these concepts may be, it is clear that the
authoritarian, undemocratic concept of the leader was indeed used by
Heidegger as rector in his praxis. Three months after his installation
as rector of Freiburg university he established the Führerprinzip
, according to which the rector would henceforth no longer be elected
by the academic Senate of the university but would be appointed by the
nazi minister of education and provided with new, sweeping
powers. Heidegger obviously had as little respect of and use for the
traditions of academic freedom - no matter their limitations and the
legitimate criticisms one could and still can bring against them - as
he did for the par- liamentary institutions of the Weimar
republic. These developments were clearly fore- shadowed in the
inaugural address where he says:

Die vielbesungene "akademische Freiheit" wird aus der Deutschen
Universität versto§en; denn diese Freiheit war unecht, weil
nur verneinend. Sie bedeutete vorwiegend Unbekümmertheit,
Beliebigkeit der Absichten und Neigungen, Ungebundenheit im Tun und
Lassen. Der Begriff der Freiheit des deutschen Studenten wird jetzt zu
seiner Wharheit zurückgebracht. Aus ihr entfaltet sich
künftig Bindung und Dienst der deutschen Studentenschaft.37

	These three links between the "true concept of freedom" and
the student body are set then set out. The first one links the
students to the Volksgemeinschaft, the Volks-community and finds its
expression in the national-socialist Arbeitsdienst.  The second links
the students to the "honor" and "destiny" of the Volk in relation to
other "Völker", demanding "Einsatz bis ins letzte", i.e. the
readiness to die for Germany in the service of the Wehrdienst,
i.e. the military. Finally, the third Bindung links the student body
to the German people's "geistigen Auftrag", its spiritual mission. The
question is how this spiritual mission links Heidegger's own sense of
knowledge and the nazi conception of science and knowledge.

	In a letter to a colleague of 20 December Heidegger had stated
his aims: "From the very day of my assumption to the office my goal
has been the fundamental change of scientific education in accordance
with the strengths and the demands of the National Socialist State".38
These aims had indeed been presented in more detail in the
Rektoratsrede and are there linked more closely to Heidegger's
understanding of the Verfallenheitenheit of Western civilization. Here
is how Sheehan puts it:

The essence of the university, [Heidegger] says, is the "will to
knowledge", which requires returning to the pre-Socratic origins of
thought. But concretely that means unifying "science and German fate"
and willing "the historical mission of the German Volk, a Volk that
knows itself in its State" - all this within a spirituality "that is
the power to preserve, in the deepest way, the strengths [of the Volk]
which are rooted in soil and blood.39

	On 30 November 1933, Heidegger gave a conference at the
University of Tübingen, organized by the students of the
university and the Kampfbund, the local NSDAP party section.40 He
starts by giving a brief history of the German university and mentions
W. v. Humboldt who, he says, insists that "the state should never lose
sight of the fact that for the university it constitute an obstacle,
and that therefore it should not interfere with its work. Things would
function infinitely better without the State. On the other hand the
state has the obligation to procure the means necessary for the
university to function". After developing the Humboldian view further,
Heidegger arrives at the present : " Meanwhile we have witnessed a
revolution. The state has transformed itself. This revolution was not
the advent of a power pre- existing in the bosom of the state or of a
political party. The national-socialist Revolution means rather the
radical transformation of German existence." The new student is no
longer a bourgeois, but a revolutionary SA or SS member who has gone
through the Arbeitsdienst, is physically fit, etc.  Teaching also has
changed: the new teacher "writes on the new concept of science",
speaks about the political student, discusses political faculties;
there are now courses on "Volkskunde", etc. But, Heidegger goes on,
all of this is only "the old under new colors." At best it is only "a
purely exterior transfer of certain results of this revolution while
at bottom everything remains stuck in its usual inertia."

	So, he asks, what has to happen? "According to the
Führer's own words, the revolution has been completed and is
making place for evolution... However, in the university, not only has
the revolution not yet achieved its aims, it has not even started."
This is so because "revolutionary reality is not something that exists
already (etwas Vorhandenes), but, by its essence, something that has
still to develop, something in gestation."

	Heidegger then develops his vision of this revolutionary
university, first by defining the new reality according to which the
German people are finally coming into their historical destiny,
totally inside of and guided by the state, and by the new "Wissen",
the new knowledge that will be dispensed there. He defines learning as
follows: "To learn does not mean to receive and store given
knowledges. To learn does not mean to receive, but, profoundly, to
give oneself to oneself.  In the act of learning, I give myself in
full possession of myself, I give myself what in the depth of my being
I already know and guard carefully."

	Lyotard, commenting on this same speech, and after noting that
the above- quoted definitions echo what Heidegger said concerning
Wissen in 1927 and will say concerning lernen in 1951, suggests that
the concept of "fate", if resolved according to this knowledge, can
only be determined as "destiny", Geschick.  The latter term is defined
by Heidegger in Being and Time as "the historizing of a community, of
a people."41 This destiny, Heidegger goes on, is thus "not something
that puts itself together out of individual fates, any more than
Being-with-one-another can be conceived as the occuring together of
several Subjects. Our fate have already been guided in advance, in our
Being with one another in the same world and in our reso- luteness for
definite possibilities."

	And, as Lyotard again points out, this analysis is echoed in
the Tübingen speech when Heidegger declares that: " To learn
means to give oneself to oneself by founding that possession on the
original belonging of one's existence as member of a people
(Völkisches Dasein), and to become conscious of oneself as
co-detainer of the truth of the people in its State."42

	It seems clear from the foregoing that essential Heideggerrian
concepts as first developed in Being and Time lend themselves without
ambiguity, and in Heidegger's own practical thinking to implementation
in the context of a fascist university structure. This is not to
dismiss Heidegger's thought : there is no doubt that in certain
essential aspects it addresses some of the most fundamental questions
we are faced with at this end of the century. But it also means that
we have to re-examine Heidegger's thinking and to do so not only by
claiming that his thinking was not yet post-metaphysical enough, as
many heideggerian deconstructionists are wont to do.
Lacoue-Labarthe's line, that "thinking can never be separated from
metaphysics" implies that no matter how consciously, how fully, one
tries to think beyond the forms of onto-theology, there always lurks
the possibility - the danger - of erring, especially, it would seem,
in the complex act of articulating abstract thought and political
action. Sheehan says at the end of his article: "We know now how
greatly he 'erred.' The question remains about how greatly he
thought. The way to answer that question is not to stop reading
Heidegger but to start demythologizing him." That means first of all
to read and reread Heidegger, but it also means that the time has come
to rethink and recontextualize essential aspects of the pre-war
european intellectual endeavors, especially those who fell prey to
what Bataille termed "la tentation fasciste."  
BIBLIOGRAPHY Beaufret, Jean. Entretien avec F. de Towarnicki Paris: PUF, 1984. Bourdieu, Pierre. L'ontologie politique de martin Heidegger (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1988). Critique n. 234 Paris: October 1966. Derrida, Jacques. De L'Esprit . Paris: Galilée, 1987. Farias, Victor. Heidegger et le Nazisme . Paris: Verdier, 1987. Faye, Jean-Pierre. "La lecture et l'énoncé," in Critique n.237, February 1967. Faye, Jean-Pierre.Langages totalitaires, Paris: Hermann, 1972. Ferry, Luc & Renaut, Alain.Heidegger et les Modernes, Paris: Grasset, 1988. Fédier, François. "A propos de Heidegger, une lecture dénoncée," in Critique n. 242, July 1967. Fédier, François. Heidegger, Anatomie d'un scandale . Paris: Laffont, 1988. Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Tr. John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. Heidegger, Martin. Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen Universität / Das Rektorat 1933/34, Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 1983. Lacoue-Labarthe,Philippe.La fiction du politique . Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1988. Lanzman, Jacques. Shoah. Paris: Fayard, 1985. "Le Débat" n. 48, jan.-feb. 1988. Paris: Gallimard. [Contains a section on the Farias book with articles by Pierre Aubenque, Henri Crétella, Michel Deguy, François Fédier, Gérard Granel, Stéphane Moses and Alain Renaut.] "Le Messager Européen", n. 1 pp. Paris: POL, 1987. Lyotard, Jean-François. Heidegger et "les juifs." Paris: Galilée, 1988. Moehling, Karl. "Heidegger and the Nazis" in: Thomas Sheehan ed., Heidegger, the Man and the Thinker, Chicago: Precedent Publishing Inc.,1981. Ott, Hugo. "Wege und Abwege," in Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 28-29 November 1987. Renaut, Alain. "Qu'est-ce que l'homme? Essai sur le chemin de pensée de Heidegger," in: Man and World, 1976, vol. 9, n. 1. Schneeberger, Guido. Nachlese zu Martin Heidegger. Bern: 1962. [no pub.] Sheehan, Thomas. "Heidegger and the Nazis," The New York Review of Books, June 16, 1988. Zimmerman, Michael. "L'affaire Heidegger", in Times Literary Supplement, October 7-13, 1988, London.
FOOTNOTES 1Victor Farias, Heidegger and Fascism, translated by (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989) Originally published as Heidegger et le Nazisme (Paris: Verdier, 1987) 2 François Fédier, Heidegger, Anatomie d'un scandale (Paris: Laffont, 1988) Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, La fiction du politique (Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1988) Jean-François Lyotard, Heidegger et "les juifs" (Paris: Galilée, 1988) 3 Jacques Derrida, De L'Esprit (Paris: Galilée, 1987). Pierre Bourdieu, L'ontologie politique de martin Heidegger (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1988). Luc Ferry, Alain Renaut, Heidegger et les Modernes, (Paris: Grasset, 1988). "Le Messager Européen", n. 1 pp. 13-121 (Paris: POL, 1987) publishes a dossier on Heidegger put together and with an essay by Elisabeth de Fontenay. It includes a french translation of the Spiegel interview and a commentary by the Czech philosopher Jan Patocka. "Le Débat" n. 48, jan.-feb. 1988 (Paris: Gallimard) contains a section on the Farias book with articles by Pierre Aubenque, Henri Crétella, Michel Deguy, François Fédier, Gérard Granel, Stéphane Moses and Alain Renaut. 4 Hugo Ott, "Wege und Abwege," Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 28-29 November 1987. 5 In France the debate concerning Heidegger's fascism goes back to 1945, when Sartre's Les Temps Modernes published, in its very first issue, a dossier concerning this question. 6 An English edition is projected for 1989, to be published by Temple University Press. 7 Thomas Sheehan, "Heidegger and the Nazis," New York Review of Books, June 16 1988. See footnote 5. 8 Martin Heidegger, Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen Universität / Das Rektorat 1933/34, Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 1983. The article "Das Rektorat 1933/34 - Tatsachen und Gedanken" was written in 1945 but not published until 1983. 9 cf above, note 4. 10 See also Lanzman's book by the same title: Shoah, Paris: Fayard, 1985. 11 in Le Nouvel Observateur, 6-12 November 1987. (Cited by Ferry/Renaud, Lacoue- Labarthe and others. I have not been able to locate the article in the international issue of the Nouvel Observateur available at the SUNY-Binghamton library. 12 cf. Le Débat , n. 48, January-February 1988, Paris, which contains a dossier on Heidegger. 13 F. Fédier, "L'intention de nuire", Le débat, p.136. 14 P. Aubenque, Le débat, p.113-115. 15 G. Granel, Le débat, p. 143. 16 The recent publication of 1978 and 1979 letters of support from Jean Beaufret to the revisionist neo-fascist "historian" Maurice Faurisson are casting grave doubts on Beaufret moral and political character. 17 Ferry, Renaut, p. 75. 18J. Beaufret, Entretien avec F. de Towarnicki, PUF, 1984, p. 87. Cited by Ferry/Renaud, p.75. 19 This classical line is not confined to France. In America it is represented by, among others, Karl Moehling, whose essay "Heidegger and the Nazis" (in Thomas Sheehan ed., Heidegger, The Man and the Thinker, Chicago: Precedent Publishing Inc., 1981) completely endorses the thesis of a momentary lapse in judgment on Heidegger's part. 20 This acrimonious quarrel started after the publication in Critique n. 234 (October 1966) of an article by Fédier attacking recent Heideggerian scholarship (especially Schneeberger's Nachlese ). Jean-Pierre Faye, then involved in a large-scale research project concerning nazi discourse ( published in 1972 as Langages totalitaires, by Hermann) answered with "La lecture et l'énoncé" in Critique n.237 (February 1967), and Fédier came back with "A propos de Heidegger, une lecture dénoncée" in Critique n. 242 (July 1967). 21 Pierre Bourdieu, L'Ontologie politique de Martin Heidegger, Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1988. 22Lyotard, p. 119. 23Lyotard, p. 122. 24Lyotard, p. 123. 25 Lacoue-Labarthe, p. 39. 26 Lacoue-Labarthe, p. 40. 27 Michael Zimmerman, "L'affaire Heidegger", in Times Literary Supplement, October 7-13, 1988, London. 28 Thomas Sheehan, "Heidegger and the Nazis," The New York Review of Books, June 16, 1988. 29 ALain Renaut, "Qu'est-ce que l'homme? Essai sur le chemin de pensée de Heidegger," in: Man and World, 1976, vol. 9, n. 1. 30 Ferry, Renaud. p. 78-79. 31 Ferry,Renaut. p. 82. 32 Ferry,Renaut. p. 84. 33 Martin Heidegger, Being and Time. Tr. John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. p. 167. 34 Lyotard, p. 110. 35 Schneeberger, p.148. 36Lyotard, p 117ff. 37 Martin Heidegger, Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen Universität and Das Rektorat 1933/34, Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 1983. 38 Sheehan, citing Ott, Zeitschrift des Breisgau-Geschichtsverein , (1984), p. 116. 39 Sheehan, p. 39. 40 Farias, p 154ff. My translation from the French translation of the Farias. 41 Heidegger, Being and Time, p. 436. 42 Farias, p. 161.