The Western Front

A Suppressed Embarrassment

A book that has failed to go anywhere internationally, contrary to the author’s expectation, is a recent study by a Chilean Jewish academic who teaches philosophy at the University of Berlin, Victor Farías.  His work deals with the youthful thought and career of Salvador Allende, who, between 1970 and 1973, headed the Marxist Government of Popular Unity in Chile.  This volume, which appeared in Chile and Spain in separate editions this year, should have received widespread critical attention.  Farías, in 1987, brought out Heidegger y el nazismo, a work that immediately went into translation in French and other languages, as the definitive exposé of Heidegger’s putative lifelong infatuation with Nazi thinking.  Although the arguments offered in that démontage are less than persuasive, and have largely to do with unproved sinister Catholic influence, the book made a splash and helped establish Farías’s reputation as an antifascist critic.

Then Farías began pushing the envelope.  Although indisputably a leftist, he had severely criticized the failure of the Chilean labor movement to respond to the antisemitic politics of the Third Reich.  Both labor leaders and socialist publications in Santiago in the 30’s, Farías explained in a book that came out in 2000, had opposed granting asylum to Jewish refugees and even contributed...

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