The Racism of Eric Voegelin

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Wulf D. Hund

Abstract

As a young scholar, Eric Voegelin wanted to prove whether the ‘race idea’ could function as a means of political integration. He published two books on race that, after his flight to the USA, were eventually passed off as an early critique of racism. This is a complete misinterpretation and inversion of his endeavor. In his tracts, Voegelin only criticized a certain direction of race thinking that he identified as a materialistic biological approach to the problem. At the same time, he advocated another spiritual and metaphysical attempt, represented by the examples of Carl Gustav Carus, Othmar Spann, and Ludwig Ferdinand Clauß. Both versions of race thinking were abundant in different types of fascism and also in Nazi Germany. That is why Voegelin could publish his books in Germany—and one of them even at the recommendation of a Nazi philosopher, with a publisher close to völkisch and fascist ideology. The revaluation of his racist texts was only possible on the basis of their affirmative or superficial and uncritical reading against the backdrop of the development of a one-dimensional conception of racism.

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How to Cite
Hund, W. (2019). The Racism of Eric Voegelin. Journal of World Philosophies, 4(1), 1-22. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/iupjournals/index.php/jwp/article/view/2670
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Author Biography

Wulf D. Hund

Wulf D. Hund is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Hamburg. The focuses of his research are social philosophy and the analysis of racism. His last book publications are Wie die Deutschen weiß wurden [How the Germans Became White] (2017) and Rassismus und Antirassismus [Racism and Anti-Racism] (2018). Among his English publications are Wages of Whiteness & Racist Symbolic Capital (2010), ed. by Wulf D. Hund, Jeremy Krikler, David Roediger; Racism and Sociology (2014), ed. by Wulf D. Hund and Alana Lentin; and Simianization: Apes, Gender, Class, and Race (2015), ed. by Wulf D. Hund, Charles W. Mills, Silvia Sebastiani.