Nietzsche - The Key Ideas: Nietzsche and politics
by Dr Roy Jackson
There is considerable debate in academic circles over whether Nietzsche really subscribed to any political views. On the one hand, a number of scholars argue that Nietzsche’s philosophy is much more of a personal, subjective account. For example, when he talks of the Superman it is a reference to writers, painters, poets and so on. Although political leaders are also referred to as his ‘higher men’ (Napoleon, for example) this does not, it is argued, imply that Superman should rule. On the other hand, Nietzsche did, in fact, write on politics, and he comes across as less of an existentialist and more of a supporter of the Volk (to use the German word), the community, in which culture especially is encouraged to flourish. Nietzsche is critical of the democracy of his time as he saw this as ‘levelling’ and, therefore, discouraging individuals from expressing themselves, although he was not necessarily against democracy as such, provided it allows the Superman to flourish. In that respect, Nietzsche does not present any one particular kind of political system, but this is not to say he is apolitical.