Beyond Confession? ‘Political Religion’ and Ideological Incorrectness in the Study of Nazism



Holocaust studies have seen the rise of ‘political religion’ as part of a ‘confessional turn’. To account for the fact that Nazism experienced widespread support from the German population, ‘ideology’ was replaced with the broader and culturally more inclusive term ‘religion’. This article examines the mechanisms behind the rise of ‘political religion’ as well as the factors behind its subsequent decline. It argues that ‘political religion’, despite its culturally inclusive label, persists in connoting dogma and indoctrination. In this respect, the concept resembles rather than differs from the abandoned term ‘ideology’. Finally, the article draws from research on the Nazi principle of transgression and presents this principle as a form of ‘ideological incorrectness’. The concept of ‘ideological incorrectness’ should be seen as a move beyond belief simply understood as confession and, thus, a move beyond the conceptual constraints of ‘political religion’.