Monday, March 04, 2013
In the LSE Review of Books, Ignas Kalpokas reviews Hitler’s Philosophers.
The second main objection is the way in which the author ‘exposes’ the collaborators. While ‘reiteration’ would be a more suitable term than ‘exposition’, primarily because the author does not uncover any new or little-known facts, an even more pressing problem is the author’s treatment of her sources and data. The author appears to centre her arguments on two claims: first, that Schmitt had ‘enshrined Hitler’s tyranny in law’, and second, that ‘Heidegger’s entire oeuvre has been interpreted as founded upon Nazi beliefs’. Let alone the fact that both of these claims, although highly debatable, are left ungrounded by any substantial analysis, the author appears to be highly selective, if not biased, in her selection of sources and arguments. Grounding her analysis exclusively in pejorative accounts of both Schmitt’s and Heidegger’s lives and work (as well as selective arguments taken from their writings without providing the necessary context), opting not to analyse the authors’ works in full but instead relying on secondary sources, and single-handedly dismissing competing interpretations as apologetic and unworthy of discussion, Sherratt does not appear to even intend to provide an impartial interpretation.
One thing that people outside the UK may not be aware of is how vested British culture is in WW2. When I went to high school there in the 1970s, the popular media was dominated by narratives of how the British single-handedly (with some minor assistance from the Yanks and Stalin) defeated the Huns. That's why we find swastikas in photos of the first wave of punk - it was a poke in the eye of the oppressive "heroism" of the previous generation. That narrative is still evident today. When I fly through Heathrow, I see it on the magazine and book shelves. It appears this book is written for that market. Why an American university press is publishing it is a bit of a mystery, but Yale also published Faye's book, so there's probably some agenda there.
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