Nietzsche: Politics as First Philosophy

Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming)

Donovan Miyasaki
Wright State University
(Part one of a two-volume study) Notorious for his vehement criticisms of egalitarianism and democracy, Nietzsche has been dismissed as an apolitical thinker at best, a dangerous forefather of fascism at worst. Nietzsche: Politics as First Philosophy argues that Nietzsche’s moral philosophy is a political philosophy in disguise. He reinvents the very foundations of political theory, grounding it in a deterministic psychology and completely rejecting moral means of human enhancement, opening new avenues for political thought beyond the narrow scope of his own aristocratic sympathies. Nietzsche’s politics is grounded in his misunderstood psychology of the will to power: happiness is found not in material power but in the feeling provoked by resisting activity against equal obstacles, an ideal of contest and play, not conquest or domination. This materialist psychology grounds his social ideal: the manifold soul, a unity of diverse drives and abilities that eliminates the need for external measures of power and enables amor fati, a non-instrumental affirmation of suffering that takes the form of the love of individual fate. Nietzsche abandons moral means of improvement, developing a materialist politics remarkably similar to Marx’s historical materialism. Moral agents and systems are not causes but effects of material conditions and political orders, while politics is the breeding of new forms of personhood through the production of their material, political conditions. Political legitimacy is a production and outcome, not a cause or foundation. States are made legitimate not through principle but practice: the production of individuals who affirm the social order that created them, preventing crises of legitimacy. Nietzsche’s reinvention of political theory liberates politics from its primary contemporary failing, the preoccupation with blame, shame, and individual moral merit, while redirecting our attention to politics’ ground: the social production of the fated personal characters we try to improve too late. But it also opens up new possibilities for leftist political thought. Nietzsche recognizes that legitimate politics requires the cultivation of fate-loving, manifold-souled individuals, a psychological type that may thrive better in conditions of agonistic equality than in Nietzsche’s own nostalgic ideal of spiritual aristocracy.
Keywords Nietzsche  Political Philosophy  Marx  Moral Philosophy  Will to Power  Determinism  Freedom
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