Anti-Politics Again

2003-08-20

Saith Nietzsche (Schopenhauer as Educator, section 4):

Every philosophy that believes that the problem of existence is touched on, not to say solved, by a political event is a joke-philosophy and pseudo-philosophy. Many states have been founded since the world began; that is an old story. How should a political innovation suffice to turn men once and for all into contented inhabitants of the earth? ...

Here, however, we are experiencing the consequences of the doctrine, lately preached from all the rooftops, that the state is the highest goal of mankind and that a man has no higher duty than to serve the state: in which doctrine I recognize a relapse not into paganism but into stupidity. It may be that a man who sees his highest duty in serving the state really knows no higher duties; but there are men and duties existing beyond this -- and one of the duties that seems, at least to me, to be higher than serving the state demands that one destroy stupidity in every form, and therefore in this form also. That is why I am concerned here with a species of man whose teleology extends somewhat beyond the welfare of a state -- with philosophers, and with these only in relation to a world which is again fairly independent of the welfare of a state: that of culture.

Nietzsche's anti-politics does not make him an anarchist. Far from it: for even the achievement of a society without the state would be "a political event", which ipso facto could not solve the problem of existence. Some who ascribe to the ideology of libertarianism seem to think that a libertarian revolution (or evolution) would suffice to turn men into contented inhabitants of the earth. Yet the truth is that such a political innovation, absent changes in outlooks and attitudes and philosophies and practices, would not result in universal human felicity. There are duties more fundamental than serving -- or fighting -- the state.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal