A Critique of Ernst Nolte: Nazism as a Transcendental Metapolitical Phenomenon

Emily Stewart Long


This paper is a critique of the final chapter of Ernst Nolte’s crucial text, Three Faces of Fascism. The goal in researching Nolte’s chapter discussing what he calls “the metapolitical” is to arrive at an understanding of Nazism that grapples with his idea that Nazism is “resistance to transcendence.” For this research essential texts in the field of both history and philosophy are referred to in order to formulate an opinion on the topic. These include Nolte, George Mosse and Hegel. This research deals directly with Nazism, which Nolte discusses in his book through the process of the Hegelian dialectic. Nolte presents fascism as a build-up of three movements: the Action Française (the thesis), Italian Fascism (the antithesis) and Nazism (the synthesis). This dialectic is important to Nolte’s thought and his understanding of fascism as not only a physical and political phenomenon but, more importantly, a metaphysical and “metapolitical” one. It is in this context that he discusses the idea of “transcendence,” by which he means the human tendency to transform life or the “immanent” world. Nolte deems Nazism “resistance to transcendence.” However, in light of this research, it seems Nolte’s assertion is incorrect. On the contrary, this research finds that Nazism can be defined as a form of transcendence. Nolte’s definition of “higher reality” is critically flawed in connection to the fact that he ignores “Geist,” a concept central to Hegel, the philosopher whose dialectic his interpretation depends on. These key oversights can work to falsify his assessment.


Nazism; Nolte; Mosse

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