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Empire and Time: Martin Heidegger’s Anti-Roman Intervention

Empire and Time: Martin Heidegger’s Anti-Roman Intervention

(p.431) Twenty-Five Empire and Time: Martin Heidegger’s Anti-Roman Intervention
The Conquest of Ruins
Julia Hell
University of Chicago Press

This chapter deals with Martin Heidegger’s thinking about empire and imperialism. Hitler, Himmler, and Speer proposed a thousand-year Reich and thousands of years of glorious ruins. Schmitt devoted himself to the neo-Roman problem of how to prolong the time before the fall by returning to the first century. Privileging ancient Greek readiness to face the end, Heidegger analyzed and criticized this Roman desire to endure. In contrast to Schmitt, when Heidegger thought about Reich, he did not return to Rome but turned to archaic Greece. Focusing on Heidegger’s Basic Concepts and his so-called Black Notebooks, the author traces the importance of Oswald Spengler’s thought for Heidegger’s understanding of imperialism and his reconceptualization of Spengler’s notion of Untergang/decline. She also studies Heidegger’s critique of neo-Roman imitation. Like Schmitt, Heidegger belongs to the tradition of conservative revolutionary thinkers of empire that the author has traced through The Conquest of Ruins. The book thus ends with Heidegger’s immersion in Spengler’s theory of Caesarist imperialism and his implicit dismissal of Schmitt’s version of the Pauline katechon.

Keywords:   Martin Heidegger, Black Notebooks, Oswald Spengler, völkisch, Reich, decline vs. perishing, Caesarism, conservative revolution, neo-Roman mimesis, historicism

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