On the question of Heidegger’s relation to Nazism there are two main research programmes. One, Heidegger Contingent Nazi, that of coddling, laundering, and hagiographic interpretation has been in its degenerating phase for some time. It’s basic thesis, that there is only a historically accidental connection between Heidegger’s philosophy and Nazi ideology and politics, leads to the predictive hypothesis that further research will not uncover more evidence of the extent, depth and persistence over time of Heidegger’s Nazi engagements, but rather proof of its extremely limited, superficial, and short-termed nature. This hypothesis has been consistently falsified by more extended studies of the historical record. The stronger thesis of Heidegger the spiritual resistance-fighter combating the Nazi régime from within has been totally demolished.
The other research programme, Heidegger Transcendental Nazi, consisting in affirming an intrinsic link between Heidegger’s thought and Nazism, and thus leading to inquiring into the evidence for Heidegger’s Nazi affiliations and affinities, and finding ties with the rest of his thought, is still progressing. Its predictive hypothesis that more such evidence will be uncovered leading to the discovery of more such ties has been confirmed.
Heidegger has been coddled too much, so it is good to have stubborn people who did not just let things drop, and by persisting found things covered up or interpreted away. Richard Wolin, Victor Farias, Emmanuel Faye, whatever their philosophical shortcomings may be, are the proof that the principle of tenacity can uncover new evidence when the more sophisticated commenters just produce whitewashing and denialism. The research programme Heidegger as transcendental Nazi is still progressing, while the Heidegger as contingent Nazi programme has been degenerating for some time. The deniers and the contingentists have been led to ever more implausible ad hoc explanatory and hermeneutic hypotheses to explain and interpret away the prima facie proofs of Heidegger’s Nazi engagement.
The proponents of the Heidegger Transcendental Nazi research programme have been predicting increasing evidence of Heidegger’s Nazi engagement, and the real world keeps providing new confirmations. This is the principal point for me. If one wants to focus on the deficiencies of Wolin’s, Farias’s and Faye’s books or in their ideas on other thinkers and on general tendencies in modern thought, that is a side issue for me. Even when they are wrong Wolin, Farias, and Faye are often onto something important. While it is not true that the deconstruction of the humanist subject is in itself totalitarian, it is ambiguous: pointing towards individuation beyond and outside of that constraining form, or blocking the path to such individuation. Highlighting the ethical vacancy of Heidegger’s thought is quite crucial for understanding that his Nazi engagements are not merely contingent. Derrida himself was obliged to effectuate an “ethical turn” and then to redescribe his past with such self-serving slogans as “deconstruction is justice” trying to protect himself from criticism and accusations of relativism by the power of redefinition. Wolin may be very unreliable philosophically, but he is not entirely useless. (NOTE: I much prefer Michel Onfray on Hannah Arendt and her discussion of the “banality of evil” in EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM, as he goes through the various misunderstandings of her book, and demonstrates their inadequacy).
So, when Wolin or Faye would have us believe that any deconstruction of the humanist subject is totalitarian, they are clearly wrong. But they may in inadequate terms be highlighting a real difficulty. Given the ethical vacancy at the heart of Heidegger’s thought one is justified in finding the deconstruction of the subject coupled with the primacy of Being and the valorisation of destiny, folk, blood, and soil as transcendentally orienting that thought in a direction not just compatible, but having a high degree of affinity with Nazi ideology.
To protect Heidegger from such analyses there is a war of definitions being conducted by the contingentist and denialist programme’s adherents. When Gérard Guest declares that there is no Nazi thought because thinking and Nazism are, by definition, mutually exclusive, we are entitled to be worried and to anticipate the seemingly reassuring but ultimately absurd consequence that when Heidegger is thinking he cannot be being a Nazi. Such piety demonstrates how the sophisticated reasonings of hyperconceptuality can be guided by more primitive adhesions and fidelities.