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Friedrich Nietzsche’s Communism

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) was a communist. Even though he said critical things about socialists and anarchists, he didn't realize how much he had in common with those movements. Nietzsche called himself "the last of the apolitical Germans," and he was right. Camus points out in The Rebel that not only was Nietzsche apolitical, he was "antipolitical." Camus also said Nietzsche should be corrected by Marx. I instinctively did this even before I read Camus' "The Rebel." And Nietzsche despised the state as much as any Marxist. However, he was not a revolutionist. He believed in non-conformity rather than revolution. He derived his ideas about non-conformity from his reading of Ralph Waldo Emerson (another radical thinker). Here is a summary of his opinions on the state:

1. The state expects conformity and gratitude.
2. The state is ruled by military despots.
3. The state is the "herd."
4. The state has its origins in violence.
Sounds like Marx or Lenin, yes? Nietzsche shook Western civilization to its foundations with his "revaluation of all values." Like any good Marxist he hated nationalism. He hated Germany and exiled himself to Switzerland and Italy. His condemnation of anti-Semitism was remarkable for his time. In one of his last letters when he went insane, he said that he ordered all the anti-Semites shot. He broke off his relationship with Wagner because of the latter's anti-Semitism. Like Engels in Anti-Duhring he attacked Duhring because of his anti-Semitism.

Nietzsche's critique of Christianity was very radical in his day and still is. He proclaimed "God is dead" as a 19th century event. God in our time is dead. He called Christianity "the greatest misfortune ever to befall mankind." His attack upon Christendom was so controversial that one scholar declared Nietzsche must have been insane at the time when he wrote "The Antichrist" because he called Jesus an "idiot" (it must be admitted that he was comparing Jesus to Prince Mishkin in Dostoyevsky's The Idiot). In Nietzsche's terminology "antichrist" means "antichristian." And that's who Nietzsche was, the antichrist ("The Antichrist" is the title of my screenplay about Nietzsche).

Nietzsche was also a Darwinist. In fact, Nietzsche's philosophical project was to reconcile Kant with Darwin, notwithstanding his calling Kant a "blockhead" (Nietzsche's relation to Kant is exceedingly complicated, like Freud's relation to Nietzsche: there's clearly a relation, but it's very thorny and complex.)"

Nietzsche also believed in free love like communists and anarchists. He paid for sex, which is how he contracted the syphillis that made him go insane.

Nietzsche was a nihilist who believed that life was meaningless, but believed that one day in the future life could have meaning. I interpret that to mean that in the glorious communist future life will have meaning.

The left critique of Nietzsche yanks quotes out of context. Nietzsche said that few authors had to be read more in context than he. There is an exoteric and interior meaning in each aphorism, and they can't be read in isolation from each other apart from their context.

Nietzsche was the critic par excellence and critiqued everything-- very radical.

Nietzsche's ideas about power are progressive, too. For Nietzsche real power was not power over other people, but power over yourself. The truly powerful men are not politicians, but the philosophers, artists, and ascetics.

There's also the question of the style. Nietzsche was a consummate literary artist and a master of the aphorism. According to Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche was the greatest writer of German prose.

It was Nietzsche who first declared that Brutus was the real hero of Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar. Contemporary criticism has followed him in this interpretation, but Nietzsche was the first critic to suggest this. Nietzsche condoned political assassination in this case.

I don't know whether I've convinced you, but Nietzsche is my favorite philosopher, and I feel called to defend him. There's an essay by Paul Tillich, "Nietzsche and the Bourgeois Spirit," which I read. It was about how Nietzsche was critical of the bourgeois spirit. I tried to find it among my papers, but couldn't seem to find it, so I can't quote any of it to you. I'll try again later.