The Pink Swastika and Friedrich Nietzsche

Throughout The Pink Swastika, Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams claim there was a necessary relationship between homosexuality and the rise of Nazi Germany. They chronicle a long line of people who they claim influenced National Socialism and assert with great confidence that most of those figures were homosexuals. However, a closer examination of their claims and the record reveal that the authors’ confidence is most likely based on wishful thinking and confirmation bias. To illustrate, I am going to review information on several key figures. This post focuses on Friedrich Nietzsche.

Nietzsche and National Socialism

I discussed Nietzsche earlier in this series but want to follow up on several claims made in The Pink Swastika. First, Lively and Abrams take for granted those Nazis who see in Nietzsche the philosophical foundation of National Socialism when they write on page 133:

Friedrich Nietzsche

Among the several men who have been dubbed “the Father of National Socialism” (including Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels), Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) is probably most deserving of this distinction, being so labeled by Nazi luminaries Dr. Alfred Rosenberg and Dr. Franck (Peters:221). Others have called him the “Father of Fascism” (ibid.:ix). Rabidly anti-Christian and a homosexual, Nietzsche founded the “God is dead” movement and contributed to the development of existentialist philosophy.

While it is true that prominent Nazis admired Nietzsche, it is unthinkable that Nietzsche would have approved of National Socialism. One Nietzsche scholar, Stephen Holgate at Warwick University, believes Nietzsche would have been critical of how the Nazi’s applied his writing, saying, “Nietzsche was not anti-Semitic or a nationalist, and hated the herd mentality.” However, Nietzsche’s sister was quite enamored with the Nazis and promoted her brother’s works in that context. Writer Ben Macintyre, who Lively and Abrams quote to support their views, dismissed the notion that Nietzsche was sympathetic to National Socialism. Writing in the London Times, Macintyre says,

But Nietzsche was no Nazi. He vigorously opposed German nationalism, as he rejected all mass movements; he had no time for ideologues, mocked the notion of a Teutonic master race and loathed anti-Semitism in all its forms.

Elisabeth, by contrast, was an enthusiastic Fascist. An early acolyte of Richard Wagner, she and her furiously anti-Semitic husband Bernhard Förster (this newspaper described him as “the most representative Jew-baiter in all of Germany”) picked up on one of the composer’s barmier ideas, and set off for Paraguay in 1886 to establish an Aryan, vegetarian republic in the middle of the jungle, which they called New Germany.

Nietzsche was bitterly opposed to the racist project from the start, declaring he wanted “nothing whatever to do with this anti-Semitic undertaking… if it fails, I shall rejoice”. Elisabeth was “morally bloated”, he said, “a vengeful anti-Semitic goose”. In an angry letter he told his sister that all of Germany’s racists should be packed off to the Paraguayan jungle, where they could rot harmlessly away.

Without hint of the obvious problem for their thesis, Lively and Abrams admit that Nietzsche condemned anti-Semitism and nationalism. In passing, they note:

Had he lived in that era, Nietzsche might not have become a Nazi. His works include numerous condemnations of anti-Semitism and nationalism (and thus were selectively censored by Elizabeth). But the best measure of Nietzsche’s contribution and importance to Nazism is not in conjectures about what Nietzsche might have thought about Nazism, but in the actual reverence of the Nazis for him.

Nietzsche’s views about the ideas later embraced by the Nazis is not conjecture. Clearly, what the Nazis embraced was the edited version of his work packaged by his racist heterosexual sister. Nietzsche’s sexuality — whatever it might have been — cannot be held to have anything to do with the selective use of his philosophy by his sister and the Nazis. Again, Macintyre provides a fuller picture of how his sister misrepresented Niezsche’s views:

When the [Paraguayan] colony inevitably failed, Elisabeth returned to Old Germany and set about transforming her brother, now irretrievably insane, into a symbol of her own twisted philosophy. She edited his works, wrote her own prejudiced versions of his life, and gathered his rejected jottings and published them as if they were real books, most notably Will to Power, which would be adopted as a sort of totalitarian textbook. When Nietzsche died, the man who had declared “God is dead” was buried in Röcken churchyard by his pious sister with full Lutheran rites.

Elisabeth avidly offered up her brother’s writings in support of militarism and Nazi world domination. Mussolini, she declared, was “the genius who rediscovered the values of the Nietzsche spirit…Nietzsche would have regarded him as the splendid disciple”. Nietzsche, I am certain, would have regarded Mussolini as a dangerous buffoon.

Reading The Pink Swastika, one would not get the big picture. A more apt summary of the situation might be this: A heterosexual couple misrepresented the writings of a man with unknown sexuality to promote racist and nationalist ideas the man abhorred.

Nietzsche and homosexuality

Having seriously questioned the influence of Nietzsche actual views on National Socialism, ruminations over Nietzsche’s sexuality may not seem as relevant. Even so, I want to point out how Lively and Abrams reduce significant questions about Nietzsche’s sexuality — what Freud called “an enigma” — to a given.

Given the presumed influence on the Nazis, Lively and Abrams need to prove Nietzsche was homosexual for their argument to seem plausible. However, the evidence that Nietzche was a homosexual is quite sparse and speculative. Let’s review what Lively and Abram offer us:

According to Macintyre in Forgotten Fatherland: The Search For Elisabeth Nietzsche, Frederich (sic) Nietzsche never married and had no known female sex partners, but went insane at age 44 and eventually died of syphilis. According to Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, Nietzsche had caught the disease at a homosexual brothel in Genoa, Italy (McIntyre:91f).

Although I am not able to directly link to Macintyre’s book, there is a quote from Macintyre’s book provided by the authors of an online rebuttal to The Pink Swastika. In a point by point refutation of the book, the Citizens Allied for Civic Action says Lively and Abrams have misquoted the Macintyre reference. About Lively and Abrams use of Macintyre, the CAFCA write:

The material allegedly cited from MacIntyre is outright fabrication. MacIntyre says nothing about Nietzsche having no known female sex partners. He does speak on page 108, of Nietzsche’s desire for a woman. As for marriage, it must be remembered that Nietzsche contracted syphilis when he was only 22, and was thereafter hardly a good candidate for husband. The mention of Freud and Jung is really deceptive. What MacIntyre actually says is, “He had certainly visited a [female] brothel in cologne in 1865, but had been embarrassed and played the piano to cover his shame before fleeing into the night. Thomas Mann believed he later went back to the brothel; Freud and Jung helped to spread a rumour that he had caught the disease in a Genoese male brothel, for which there is no evidence.”

Regarding female love interests, it is clear that Nietzsche was quite infatuated with free-spirit Lou Salome’ and proposed marriage to her – which she refused. However, the main point to make here is that Lively and Abrams have assumed the homosexuality of Nietzsche based upon a rumor circulated after his death. Another more ambitious effort to make this link comes from Joachim Kohler in his book, Zarathustra’s Secret. Kohler notes his proof:

For their meetings in April and October, 1908 Freud’s Wednesday Circle had chosen Nietzsche as their subject for discussion. Freud himself categorically stated that ‘Nietzsche’s ideas had had not the slightest influence on his own work.” Then after a number of aspects of Nietzsche had been discussed, including his latent sadism, his repressed homosexuality and his father-complex, a certain Paul Federn suddenly lept to his feet. He said that, ‘from a trustworthy source he could report that Nietzsche lived, periodically, the life of a homosexual and that he had contracted syphilis in a homosexual brothel in Genoa’. (p. 210).

The evidence for Lively and Abrams’ confident assertion comes from a rumor. Kohler later acknowledges that Freud dismissed the rumor. Apparently Arnold Zweig enlisted Freud’s aid to write a psychoanalytic book about Nietzsche. Freud declined, writing to Zweig (quoted by Kohler):

‘In front of the entrance to the Nietzsche problem,’ wrote Freud to Zweig, ‘there stands two sentries barring the way. Firstly, one cannot investigate a person unless one is aware of his sexual constitution, and Nietzsche’s is a complete enigma. There is even a legend that he was a passive homosexual and contract syphilis in a homosexual brothel in Genoa. Is that true? Quien sabe? [sic].’ (p. 212).

About Nietzsche’s sexuality, Freud asks, ‘Who knows?’ calling the subject a “complete enigma.” However, in the hands of Lively and Abrams, no enigma is too difficult for them to unravel in favor of their thesis.

Kohler’s book seems to be in the same speculative genre as The Pink Swastika. I noted previously a skeptical review of Kohler’s book, especially regarding any perceived relationship between purported homosexuality and Nietzsche’s philosophy. Furthermore, historian Noel Malcolm dismissed the book as a fixation. Malcolm’s words could also describe The Pink Swastika’s effort to find homosexuality behind every Nazi.

Nietzsche was fascinated by the mechanisms of repressed desire and sublimated sexuality; one of his aphorisms stated that “The degree and kind of a man’s sexuality reaches up into the topmost summit of his spirit.” Given the fact that his own writings represented the “topmost summit” of his own spirit, such comments, scattered through his works, might well have been regarded as hostages to fortune.

In Zarathustra’s Secret every one of those hostages is taken out of its cell and led away to be shot at dawn. For Joachim Köhler is a writer in the grip of an idée fixe: his entire study of Nietzsche is devoted to proving that the philosopher was gay, and that coded references, not only to homosexual desires but also to actual homosexual experiences, are to be found in his works.

Let us distinguish, in philosophical style, between three different claims here. Claim 1: Nietzsche was not very interested in women and, like some other Victorian classicists, had aesthetic-emotional feelings about young men that we would nowadays call homoerotic. Claim 2: he had sex with other men. And Claim 3: his homosexuality is not just alluded to in his writings; it is actually the basis on which his whole philosophy was built.

Most modern students of Nietzsche would probably accept the drift of Claim 1, although they might disagree about how much eros there was in the eroticism. Yes, he formed sentimental attachments to younger male friends, and there are tones of endearment in their correspondence with him that sound strangely high-flown to modern ears; but there is precious little evidence that either he or they thought they were having any sort of erotic relationship.

For Köhler that is not a problem, however, as he has an almost magical ability to conjure up evidence out of nothing at all. He quotes one of these friends, Erwin Rohde, saying in later life that “If in the last analysis I was unable to assimilate much of Nietzsche’s nature, then it was because of the peculiar impermeability of the integument of my character.” Ludicrously, Köhler insists that this was a “sexually suggestive allusion”: what Rohde actually meant, he claims, was that he had refused to let Nietzsche penetrate him.

This is a method of interpreting evidence guaranteed to find whatever it is looking for. When Nietzsche talks of the pleasure of lying on an Italian beach, and compares the experience to that of a lizard in the sun, Köhler hastens to inform us that “Sardes, author of a third-century Greek anthology of pederastic literature, calls the penis of his young lover a lizard.”

When, on the other hand, Nietzsche finds a toad in a hotel garden, brings it to an artistic lady-friend and suggests that she draw it, Köhler is quick to find the hidden significance: “the slimy toad was a symbol of her own repulsiveness”, he explains, “her womanhood, representing everything that makes a woman what she is”.

Whatever elements of truth there may be in Claim 1, they are buried by Köhler under a mountain of fantastic over-interpretation. But what about Claim 2? Here the evidence is extremely flimsy: just a rumour, recorded years after Nietzsche’s death by someone who never knew him, that the syphilis from which he eventually died was caught in Genoa in a homosexual brothel. Even Köhler has to admit that the whole pattern of symptoms of incipient brain disease – intense migraines, “fits”, and erratic and paranoid behaviour – started many years before Nietzsche’s visit to Genoa.

But no mere facts can stand in the way of an all-conquering idée fixe. Just as Köhler is ingenious in interpreting simple statements as elaborate symbols so, too, when it suits him, he can interpret symbolic statements as if they were simple records of experience.

One of Nietzsche’s lyric poems uses the image of a still night spent asleep in a fishing boat. “Morning came. On the dark depths/ Lay a barque, resting, resting . . ./ Nothing was happening! We were asleep, all asleep.” For Köhler, this is all the proof he needs: Nietzsche had sex with a Genoese fisherman in a boat, quod erat demonstrandum.

As noted above, Nietzsche had a breakdown at age 44 with psychosis and other neuropsychiatric manifestations. At this point, I doubt it is necessary to deal much with Nietzsche’s demise — was it due to syphilis? or brain cancer? or a form of dementia? Some have speculated that Nietzsche may have contracted the syphilis while a medical orderly with the Prussian army; others believe it happened via a trip to a heterosexual brothel (cf. Kaufmann for theories). Whatever the case, if we are to remain objective, the actual status of Nietzsche’s sexual preferences is indeed an enigma. Stated simply, the Lively/Abrams’ assumption of homosexuality is a speculation based on a rumor. The actual influence on the Nazi movement is Nietzsche’s heterosexual sister, Elisabeth.

In the next post, I discuss another “Father of National Socialism” offered by Lively and Abrams – Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels. As I will demonstrate, Lively and Abrams engage in the same kind of idée fixe with von Liebenfels as they do with Nietzsche and others.

Prior posts in this series:

May 28 – Scott Lively wants off SPLC hate group list

May 31 – Eliminating homosexuality: Modern Uganda and Nazi Germany

June 3 – Before The Pink Swastika

June 4 – Kevin Abrams: The side of The Pink Swastika

June 8 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 1

June 9 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 2

June 11 – American Nazi movement and homosexuality: How pink is their swastika?

June 15 – Nazi movement rallies against gays in Springfield, MO

June 17 – Does homosexuality lead to fascism?

June 23 – The Pink Swastika and Friedrich Nietzsche

List of posts on Uganda and The Pink Swastika

25 thoughts on “The Pink Swastika and Friedrich Nietzsche”

  1. It would have been a pity not to publish that “comment”. It provided the opportunity for a very good laugh. More seriously, although he claimed to be an atheist, what kind of atheist was he to call himself Dionysos? What is sure is that he was a very religious character, a fact already well noted by Louise Salomé. He was the orphan of one god and found another. According to him acquired traits along several generations is a fact, and as he was the last son of a whole series of priests from both father and mother sides, he endorsed the clothes and acted like a prophet. In the Antiquity prophets were political figures and played an important role as such. That is why Losurdo for instance says about Nietzsche that he is a “totus politicus” character.

  2. I find it rather intriguing that nihilists,atheists and other assorted scum have been influenced by a syphylitic moron such as the less than illustrious pathetic excuse for life…Nietzsche and that bony assed piece of garbage..George Bertrand Shaw yet another atheistic misfit and “fellow traveller”.Now all you atheists get at least one thing straight in your useless lives and understand GOD IS FOREVER and long after your sorry atheistic asses have been reduced to nothing more than useless carbon molecules floating aimlessly in the void of endless space,ALMIGHTY GOD will be in total control of HIS creation and all that are part of it!You atheistic scum who choose to live outside of God`s authority and grace will suffer the consequences and be damned for eternity.You made your choice assholes and now you may join Meyer,DAWKINS and the rest of the human garbage that litter our Godless age.IT IS LATER THAN YOU THINK!

    1. Normally, I don’t approve such hateful speech but I love irony and your condemnation of “useless carbon molecules” in the name of a personal God is just too good to pass up.

    2. Pope Francis I has made clear that atheists (and others outside the Church) who are ‘people of good will’ can find a path to heaven, through sincerity of heart and good works; his pronouncement on this matter is entirely consistent the (fundamentally biblical – see Matt. 25 : 31 – 46) teaching of the Church (see Lumen Gentium).

      The Church also teaches us that every human person is possessed of intrinsic dignity that must be respected. Of course, we might disagree with someone and wish to express our disagreement in ‘colourful’ terms, but to lose sight of the core Christian values is to lose everything – including in proper recognition of our own dignity and maybe even our own salvation.

    3. 1 Corinthians 13 (KJV)

      1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

      2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

      3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

      4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

      5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

      6 rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

      7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

      8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

      9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

      10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

      1. Frederick Christiansen – I’m an atheist. I don’t believe gods exist.

        I’m also not trying to clobber you in some sterile debate.

        Despite the fact that those words come from a Bible I don’t believe in, I try, however imperfectly, to follow them. I’d be one heck of a hypocrite if I was to use these words uncharitably, as weapons against you.

        I’m too busy trying to remediate my own many errors and faults to worry overmuch about anyone else’s, real or imagined. Nonetheless, may I please ask you to read that passage, and ask yourself whether your words of admonition to us were spoken charitably? For if not, I fear you’ve missed the point.

        1. Frederick may have gone, Zoe – I now notice he posted his ‘thing’ (not quite sure how to describe it) nearly four years ago.

  3. Warren, I’ve got 2 comments pending moderation. I think I used too much profanity and spam…

  4. Maybe I should have added that neither hypotheses can be supported by evidence, ie (A) Nietzsche’s alleged homosexuality linked to his influence on Nazism and (B) Plato’s known homosexuality linked to his treatment of instincts that influenced early Christianism.

    Another note. Nietzsche’s tone, when it comes to instincts, talks about power, which is very similar to Hitler’s tone in ‘Mein Kampf’ (getting power over masses, having learned techniques to manipulate the masses which are seen as weak and feminine, waging a war against a spirit of weakness manifested through lack of conviction, undecisiveness, etc). Plato’s tone seems to address more a concern about restoring the order inside the soul, according to reason. On reason, Nietzsche noted in another of his writings (The Twilight of the Idols, The Problem of Socrates, 10):

    When one finds it necessary to turn reason into a tyrant, as Socrates did, the danger cannot be slight that something else threatens to play the tyrant. Rationality was hit upon as a savior; neither Socrates nor his “patients” had any choice about being rational: it was necessary, it was the last resort. The fanaticism with which all Greek reflection throws itself upon rationality betrays a desperate situation; there was danger, there was but one choice: either to perish or — to be absurdly rational. The moralism of the Greek philosophers from Plato on is pathologically conditioned; so is their reverence for logical argument. Reason equals virtue and happiness, that means merely that one must imitate Socrates and counter the dark appetites with a permanent daylight — the daylight of reason. One must be clever, clear, bright at any price: any concession to the instincts, to the unconscious, leads downward.

    But the previous paragraphs are equally interesting:


    I have explained how it was that Socrates could repel: it is therefore all the more necessary to explain how he could fascinate. That he discovered a new kind of contest, that he became its first fencing master for the noble circles of Athens, is one point. He fascinated by appealing to the competitive impulse of the Greeks — he introduced a variation into the wrestling match between young men and youths. Socrates was a great erotic.


    But Socrates guessed even more. He saw through the noble Athenians; he saw that his own case, his idiosyncrasy, was no longer exceptional. The same kind of degeneration was quietly developing everywhere: old Athens was coming to an end. And Socrates understood that the world needed him — his method, his cure, his personal artifice of self-preservation. Everywhere the instincts were in anarchy, everywhere one was within sight of excess: monstrum in animo was the common danger. “The impulses want to play the tyrant; one must invent a counter-tyrant who is stronger.” After the physiognomist had revealed to Socrates who he was — a cave of bad appetites — the great master of irony let slip another clue to his character. “This is true,” he said, “but I mastered them all.” How did Socrates become master over himself? His case was, at bottom, merely the extreme case, only the most striking instance of what was then beginning to be a epidemic: no one was any longer master over himself, the instincts turned against themselves. He fascinated, being an extreme case; his awe inspiring ugliness proclaimed him as such to all who could see: he fascinated, of course, even more as an answer, a solution, an apparent cure [therapy] for this disease.

  5. There is probably as much afinity between Nietzsche’s “homosexuality” and Nazism as it is between Plato’s homosexuality and his influence on early Christianism.

    One wrote against democracy because he thought democracy leads to a type of human lead by instincts and whim, arguing in favour of balance, order and hierarchy based on reason (cf. The Republic, 559d-562a). He influenced early Christianism via Neoplatonism, but also directly through the agency of core notions like ‘soul’, the creator of the world being One and Good, the evil rooted in human sin, the mastery of instincts, etc. Plato was more recently accused by Austrian philosopher Karl Popper (in The Open Society and Its Enemies, published in 1945) of providing the theoretical foundations of modern totalitarianism. In Plato’s view, political order was supposed to be based on a ‘noble lie’ (children should be lied and manipulated that they have been born different and destined for different roles in society) and society should be structured according to a hierarchy of virtues that each person has to the highest degree, based on which a fixed hierarchy among people should be enforced and observed.

    Nietzsche, on the other hand, wrote against democracy because he thought democracy embodies the ‘spirit of the herd’ and it leads to general mediocrity by means of tyranny of the stupid and common. Nietzsche praised the spirit of nobility, he thought imbalance of instincts is the given state of nature and the best human specimens are those who rise above them by using them, not by denying them. He believed in the power of instincts and thought that the powerful do not deny their instincts, but use them to their advancement, to fulfil their ‘power to will.’ He cited as great examples of such achievement the Athenian general Alcibiades, Roman leader Julius Caesar and Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. All of them, he argued, asserted themselves in a time when the democratic, flaccid type of human was prevalent (Beyond Good and Evil, 200).

    This is just an example of many passages dealing with the spirit of weakness that Nietzsche thought was characteristical of democratic times:

    The UNIVERSAL DEGENERACY OF MANKIND to the level of the “man of the future”–as idealized by the socialistic fools and shallow-pates–this

    degeneracy and dwarfing of man to an absolutely gregarious animal (or as they call it, to a man of “free society”), this brutalizing of man into a pigmy with equal rights and claims, is undoubtedly POSSIBLE! He who has thought out this possibility to its ultimate conclusion knows ANOTHER loathing unknown to the rest of mankind–and perhaps also a new MISSION!

    (Beyond Good and Evil, 203, 30-35).

    The emphases are Nietzsche’s.

    As I have argued elsewhere on this blog, Hitler did not seem concerned with rooting out a certain sexual orientation out of humanity as much as with a spirit of weakness that he thought was prevalent in the society of his own time.


    So if one is so bold to claim that Nietzsche’s alleged homosexuality had a backdoor influence on his writing and thus motivated a political elite to rise to power and build a Nazi regime, then it can be equally credible to say that Plato’s homosexuality had an influence on his treatment of instincts in his philosophical writings, to the extent that it influenced early Christianism.

  6. Two additional points:

    1. Even if we grant both of Lively’s false assumptions, (i.e., the explicit assumption that Nietzsche was gay and the implicit assumption that he personally was a proto-fascist), Lively’s argument still collapses upon the claim that the man’s philosophy is inherently pro-fascist or Nazi. Nietzsche’s philosophy has been taken up by people on all points on the political spectrum, from communists like Sartre to radical libertarians to liberal democrats to apolitical college students trying to “find themselves”. It is anti-religious. It is anti-conformist. But as a whole the philosophy is not inherently suited to any particular point on the ideological spectrum.

    2. Further, and most obviously, even if everything Lively says about Nietzsche is granted as true, it still says nothing about homosexuals as a group, either then or today. If you doubt this, then consider whether, if Nietzsche were proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be straight, whether this would mean that straight Americans regardless of political outlook – from Joe Biden to Burt Reynolds to Walter Throckmorton – would be indirectly responsible for Nazism.

    It is amazing that Christians have sunk to this level. The country is passing them by on this issue and the more bizarre and transparently false claims they make, they faster the mainstream will abandon them.

  7. Our buddy Scott Lively has a new book, “Reclaiming the Rainbow”. It’s about what one would expect. The intro has this lovely section:

    Q16. Is it wrong to discriminate against homosexuality?

    A16. Discrimination based on race or skin color is morally wrong because there is no legitimate reason for it — the criteria are both morally neutral and immutable. Such discrimination springs from irrational prejudice. However, homosexuality involves voluntary sexual conduct that has negative personal and social consequences. It is perfectly reasonable and responsible to discriminate against homosexuality on religious, moral, sociological and public health rounds. As the Scripture states in Ephesians 5:11, “[H]ave no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”

  8. Two additional points:

    1. Even if we grant both of Lively’s false assumptions, (i.e., the explicit assumption that Nietzsche was gay and the implicit assumption that he personally was a proto-fascist), Lively’s argument still collapses upon the claim that the man’s philosophy is inherently pro-fascist or Nazi. Nietzsche’s philosophy has been taken up by people on all points on the political spectrum, from communists like Sartre to radical libertarians to liberal democrats to apolitical college students trying to “find themselves”. It is anti-religious. It is anti-conformist. But as a whole the philosophy is not inherently suited to any particular point on the ideological spectrum.

    2. Further, and most obviously, even if everything Lively says about Nietzsche is granted as true, it still says nothing about homosexuals as a group, either then or today. If you doubt this, then consider whether, if Nietzsche were proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be straight, whether this would mean that straight Americans regardless of political outlook – from Joe Biden to Burt Reynolds to Walter Throckmorton – would be indirectly responsible for Nazism.

    It is amazing that Christians have sunk to this level. The country is passing them by on this issue and the more bizarre and transparently false claims they make, they faster the mainstream will abandon them.

  9. About Nietzsche’s sexuality, Freud asks, ‘Who knows?’ calling the subject a “complete enigma.” However, in the hands of Lively and Abrams, no enigma is too difficult for them to unravel in favor of their thesis.

    Enigmatic sexuality? Lively might have just missed the mark. Maybe the Nazis were worshipping the work of the ‘ex-gay’ Nietzsche? But perhaps then I would likely be just as wrong as Lively and Abrams.

  10. No David, I think you are mistaken. We are not all vulnerable to this error.

    You, for example, are not so blinded by hatred that you are willing to lie to yourself and others so as to blame those you hate for the most heinous crimes in history.

    And were you to do so, you would not be so blinded that when those who are truly scholars in the field refuted you, you would not denounce them as evil. You would question yourself.

    You are not at all like Scott Lively.

  11. Although I think Lively’s errors are of a kind we are all vulnerable to when we attempt to speak with authority out of our area of expertise.

  12. Is it best to categorize Lively this way…

    A Self-described Christian, who is bright and legally trained, working outside his area of expertise, unable to apply the rigor of a true historian, vulnerable to his own self-deception and his fundamentalist training.

    It seems, when we work out of an area of expertise, and we are smart, we find things which we believe confirm our superior intelligence…but really expose that we are working outside our area of expertise.

    Humility is the beginning of knowledge.

  13. The allegation that Nietzsche was gay is ridiculous and not supported at all by his own works. Mind you, I don’t care if someone is gay or lesbian, but I do mind when it is inaccurate.

    Here are some well-known reasons…It is highly suspected that Nietzsche caught syphilis during the Franco-Prussian War when working as a medic. His symptoms as reported and demonstrated by his writings are consistent with his psychosis and breakdowns being due to this untreated illness.

    It was also well known that Nietzsche had difficulties with women but longed for them. For example, it was largely known that he had unrequited love for his very good friend’s wife (Wagner). Also, that he had approached women on numerous occasions but was rejected. He was also known to masturbate excessively, and write about women (usually pretty negatively due to his experiences). There is no indication of a same-sex orientation whatsoever in historical evidence or rumor.

    Although Nietzsche’s works were a rare gift from Hitler to Mussolini during WWII, in no way did Nietzsche support the Nazi movement, but rather Hitler believed that the “overman” (ubermensch) that Nietzsche wrote so extensively about, was him. Nietzsche believed that there are some men who rise above the “herd” who are genuine and leaders and above others…he even references Jesus as being one of these overmen. It just so happens that Hitler thought he was one too…

    Look, anyone who knows anything about Nietzsche knows that the above allegations or assertions are a bunch of crap. But, people have been known to sell crap to uninformed masses and actually get them to believe it.

    This is just my humble opinion.

    1. You should read better. The proof that Nietzsche was homosexual exists by his own words. Only you will have to look for it, if you care. I don’t care either about his sexual orientation, but his mental illness and his misogyny are consequences of that fact. By the way “his” syphilis is a myth. Nietzsche never longer for women sexually. He proposed a 2 years marriage to Louise Salomé, without sex, only for intellectual intercourses. He proposed marriage only once before in Geneva to a woman he encoutered only a few ours before. Not a sexual, nor an intellectual attraction. Just he needed someone to care about his home. His sister did just that for several months in Basel. And when a woman fell in love with him, he rebutted her.

      It would have been difficult for Nietzsche to support the nazi movement, for that movement was created many years after his death. But Hitler was a good reader of Nietzsche and he understood him very well without needing a translator. Hitler not only understood what Nietzsche’s “great policy” was, but he started to apply it the hard way. Of course Hitler is an overman, just like Napoléon and Cesar Borgia, explicitely mentioned by Nietzsche as overmen. Other men considered as models by Nietzsche : Alexander the Great, Alcibiade, Julius Caesar… All men of power, most of them creators of an empire. Just what Hitler wanted to do, reducing to slavery the majority of the submitted populations, the “herd”. For Nietzsche there is no civilisation without slavery, without a cast of soldiers and a few geniuses free from work.

      That is from the texts by Nietzsche. Now to try to guess, if Nietzsche would have still been alive during the 3rd Reich, what he would have thought is just to be intellectually dishonest. Dead people do not speak anymore. Nobody can contradict the fact that Hitler put into application several of Nietzsche’s “ideas”.

        1. Sorry for the typos: longed instead of “longer” and hours instead of “ours”.

          To answer your question : if you want to understand Nietzsche you will have to read all of it : his texts, his correspondence, the testimonies and his biographies. There are a lot of myths around him, like his syphylis, his “horse”-breakdown, that he did not want followers, He knew how to hide and how to lie.

          Curt Janz biography is a good start. But one source is never enough.

          As for the proof itself, maybe you will have to wait that I will write a book about Nietzsche…

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