[Marxism] Nietzsche on MLK

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Tue Jan 21 06:42:49 MST 2014


Clearly, there were many aspects of Nietzsche's message that would make him an appealing figure to the far right. Nietzsche was an unabashed elitist. He was outspokenly contemptuous of Christian ethics, especially of its softer side which counselled compassion and taught that all people were equal before God. Nietzsche taught that hierarchies of all sorts were inevitable and desirable.  On the other hand, much of his appeal to the far right also came as a result of the distortions of his writings that were perpetrated by his sister who was indeed a supporter of Fascism, and later, National Socialism. To do that, she had to cover up Nietzsche's philo-semitism and his occasional rejections of biological racism, as well as his contempt for the Prussian Junkers and indeed, often expressed contempt for the German people (Nietzsche seems to have thought, perhaps incorrectly, that he had some Polish ancestry).

And yes, we are still left with the fact that he has long been, and continues to be, widely admired on the left. I have already mentioned that even in his own lifetime he had admirers in the SPD, and supporters among Russian Marxists, including Bolsheviks like Lunacharsky. Mention has been made of Lukacs, whose own relationships with Nietzscheanism, were, to say the least, complicated. The young Lukacs, who was one of Max Weber's bright young men, was very much an admirer of Nietzsche. After Lukacs became a Marxist, he repudiated his previous support for Nietzsche. Yet, arguably, Nietzsche had left an indelible mark on the Hungarian philosopher. 

As you say, Foucault was an interesting case. After he was expelled from the PCF and he repudiated Marxism, Foucault proclaimed himself to be a Nietzschean, yet his relationships with both Marxism and Nietzscheanism were complicated. Foucault's Nietzscheanism was apparent, such as when in works like, Discipline and Punish, he wrote about pursuing a genealogical analysis of the rise of imprisonment as the chief means for punishing criminals. Yet, in that same book, he also made extensive use of Marxist analysis too when he attempted to delineate the social functions of punishment.

Jim Farmelant
http://independent.academia.edu/JimFarmelant
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---------- Original Message ----------
From: Gary MacLennan <gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Nietzsche on MLK
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2014 13:38:46 +1000

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Hi Jim,

Well you are softer on Nietzsche than I am. I admit though one has to
account for his influence on the left. One could point out that reading and
interpretation are creative acts and so it is not easy to predict what one
will get from a writer.
But that seems something of a cop out to me.

Warren has argued that like Hegel, Nietzsche writings are politically
indeterminate and so can have followers across the political spectrum. The
problem is that I do not think that Nietzsche's politics are politically
indeterminate at all.  They leap out at one from every page.  
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