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The Nihilist Order

The Intellectual Roots of Totalitarianism

Professor David Ohana teaches European history at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. He was a visiting fellow at The Sorbonne, Harvard, and Berkeley as well as the first academic director of the Forum for Mediterranean Cultures at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. His many books include: The Origins of Israeli Mythology (Cambridge, 2014), Israel and Its Mediterranean Identity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), Modernism and Zionism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), Political Theologies in the Holy Land: Israeli Messianism and its Critics (Routledge, 2009).

“A provocative and illuminating thesis on Totalitarianism.”
Isaiah Berlin

“A turning point in the research of European modernity.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Ohana has convincingly shown that a complex cultural, ideological and psychological syndrome, linking nihilism to totalitarianism, represented a significant factor in the ‘gathering storm’ which marked the early twentieth century.
Saul Friedländer, author of The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945

“A major contribution to the understanding of the ‘condition humain’.”
Yehoshua Arieli, author of Individualism and Nationalism in American Ideology

The explosive combination of nihilist leanings together with a craving for totalitarianism was an ideal of philosophers, cultural critics, political theorists, engineers, architects and aesthetes long before it materialized in flesh and blood, not only in technology, but also in fascism, Nazism, bolshevism and radical European political movements.

The Nihilist Order, originally published in three hardcover volumes and now published in a consolidated paperback edition, inspired excellent review endorsements, both amongst the academic and public spheres – and has been heralded as a great achievement in European intellectual and cultural history.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-795-7
Paperback Price: £35.00 / $50.00
Release Date: June 2016
Page Extent / Format: 660 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


Contents to Follow

Ohana presents this thick treatise on the intellectual and cultural traditions that contributed the development of totalitarianism in the early twentieth century. It is presented as a trilogy of three “volumes” bound together exploring the work and life of three men who, despite stark differences in beliefs and circumstances, nevertheless shared a “nihilist mentality”. Part I discusses Friedrich Nietzsche, the consummate nihilist philosopher whose writings begin to foreshadow how paradoxical desires for structure and destruction could come to coexist in the politics of the ensuing decades. Part II discusses Georges Sorel, a sociologist who described politics as a mythology in which violence breaks through and refreshes modern inauthenticity. Finally part III discusses Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Italian futurism, and other avant-garde artistic movements often closely linking aesthetics to elevation of the human intellectual condition included in utopian promises of a contemporary political ideology.

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