The Many Nietzsches

Note: This is only a precursor to hopefully much more work on Nietzche

Preface: Nietzsche is absolutely my favorite philosopher, and it’s bothered me for a while that I've never written about him — I didn’t know how to do it. Recently a few friends¹ worked on a project of creative destruction, what they called Negative Mapping, and, somewhat retrospectively, what I've called decapitation. Talking to them throughout the progression of the writing — and eventually reading it — in tandem with Nietzsche, it quickly became an influence to my interpretation of him; it is the revaluation, philosophizing with a hammer² .

This is different than my usual writing, it only felt fitting to be a little arrogant here. I couldn’t doubt myself like I do all too much — no strong person could confuse their boldness with an odor like the weak!

Nietzsche is a plurality. There is no one man responsible for his work, and Nietzsche’s physical death does not mark the end of his time writing. His method is about dancing with different perspectives, analyzing every value as it is perceived by the slave, or master, or woman, or priest etc. From his offensively Hegelian debut³ to his powerfully affirmative magnum opus⁴, Nietzsche has taken up the job of releasing himself from the confines of himself as subject. He made himself many and developed the ability to smell the disgusting sickness while maintaining his deep connection and experience with it. This is how the decadent man we are shown in Ecce Homo managed to write something like the Antichrist, and how the man recognized for diagnosing nihilism had his own great book of nihilism.

There is a new Nietzsche with each use of his name. The active nihilist Nietzsche, loved so much by Bataille, whose presence can be felt each time he speaks of his disdain for the Germans; the metaphysician of the dice roll, who is the child of Nietzsche himself and Gilles Deleuze⁵; the great psychologist presented by Kaufmann; they’re all just as much Nietzsche as the actual Nietzsche (if such a man could really have been). Each time his name is conjured up, birth is given to a concept who speaks through him, a new mixture of Nietzsche and some perspective that he can see from — such as his own Zarathustra, which was really the child of himself and the overman.

Not every Nietzsche is useful; in fact, the original predominant Legend of Nietzsche⁶ , created by his sister, is a vulgarization; a hateful, statist, Darwinian man who any Dionysian Nietzsche would have disdain for; a sick, incoherent advocate for racial supremacy and totalitarianism. Here I do not care about the authenticity of his sister’s representation of his work, for we already know it is a disgusting, weak Nietzsche of myth. I am concerned with the threat of this abomination, and the chauvinistic Nietzsches he has given birth to. When we look at the weakest Nietzsches they are most often born from this one. He was once the only Nietzsche known to us; despite battles fought against him, his corruption had already begun, he had begun to infect ideas of Nietzsche, weakening him, and injecting him with a militaristic poison. A Nietzsche of resentment, fundamentally self-denying. His sister’s manipulation of his body brought to life someone so terrible, a corrupted Nietzsche, a priestly racist of excessive brutality. She conveniently omitted and ignored Nietzsche’s comments which fundamentally identify the antisemitic German movements preceding the Nazis as weak. There’s no need to compare Nietzsche with the Nazis or dive deeply into their differences when, as Georges Bataille correctly pointed out, he anticipated them, “For the clear-sighted, at a political level Nietzsche was a prophet, foretelling the crude German fate. He was the first to give it in detail. He loathed the impervious, vengeful, self-satisfied foolishness that took hold of the German mind after 1870, which today is being spent in Hitlerite madness.”⁸ There is no cure, only the possibility of the strongest Nietzsche, perhaps stronger than the one whose tongue was wielded by Zarathustra⁷, one so strong that he cannot bear the weak vulgarization, one so strong that he can discharge a definitive No to a Nietzsche who had only been told Yes, a No so powerful that this man is condemned to where he belongs, an abyss with a stench of weakness and insignificance.

Along with this gross Nietzsche, we have another enemy: the idiotic relativist Nietzsche, no less helpful to the Nazi’s than the militarist⁹. Nietzsche was not a relativist, nor was he some kind of anti-truth subjectivist. This relativist Nietzsche, the child of Ernst Bertram, would be horrified by the many truths emerging in Nietzsche if he could digest them. Many truths does not mean no truths, it does not mean all claims are equally valuable; instead it means that truth is not static, transcendental, that there is no lone and ultimate truth of existence, there are only perspectives, forces, values, and becoming. To embrace many truths means to escape unity, to decapitate, to side with the many Gods, to side with time in its inevitable triumph over being, to throw your father into the void — beware of the weak ones who parade this attitude as their own but only want to give truth its head back! — To deny truth in favor of some relativism is to say Nietzsche’s perspectives disprove rather than create truths, to say “no truth is single and universal, thus it is all myth! It is all the same!” reeks of weakness, of a man who looks into the abyss and sees nothing. This relativist starts somewhere promising — Nietzsche perpetually contradicted himself — but he has been seduced to replace the unity he appeared to challenge. “There is perpetual contradiction, so it’s all false!!” I need not say it again after this — the idiot relativist is corrupted by his attraction to nothingness; perpetual contradiction means there are many truths in motion, not that it is all false. He was not wrong to say there is interpretation in any historiography, but every interpretation can create truths or weaken us, they still have value. The strong ones do not bother with authenticity in a text, we are concerned with its potential.

I said beware of the weak ones who want a new unity, a new God, but who are they? They are the ones who say “Man is the highest being! He dictates his own reality!” They see Nietzsche as a triumph of man over the brutality of existence. This is only a weak escape to a falsity man creates for himself. Affirmation of life is not man defeating and taking control of his nature, it is man elevating himself above existence and becoming divine. — This is exactly the weak type I warned of, unable bare headlessness! — On the contrary, it is a return to reality, it is killing the parents your homogenizing rationality represents. Camus is stained by this type. His absurdism is but an escapism that makes man the new God. He thinks man embracing his power over his life is an affirmation, but it only divorces man from reality, going to an illusory kingdom, the only difference now that man inhabits this abstraction.

Kaufmann’s Nietzsche is an interesting case. I have no doubt in his strength, he was one of the first to battle the weak Nietzsches, but Kaufmann often puts an overemphasis on having a correct interpretation of Nietzsche, an interpretation which remains faithful. I don’t take much issue with his own interpretation of Nietzsche — as I mentioned it is a strong one — I only have distaste for his coverage of other interpretation; judging how true to Nietzsche they are. Many times he misses the perspectivism and plurality of Nietzsche; such as when he says “To be sure, George projected himself into his Nietzsche picture; and he lacked a sympathetic understanding of what mattered most to Nietzsche.”¹⁰ Does any interpretation not do this? Is that not one of the many lessons of Nietzsche? Kaufmann’s search for an objective Nietzsche is his biggest downfall in interpreting him. — Know this does not discount the appreciation for the impactful and useful Nietzsche he created. — This Nietzsche isn’t to be destroyed, he can stomach what I say, he is to be used more fully than Kaufmann could.

Nietzsche is often called a misogynist, and to many it’s absurd to even question that fact; “He says woman is alien to truth! He says woman should be silent on woman! He is clearly a misogynist!” I will address these claims, but even assuming he is some kind of male chauvinist, even if we reach the conclusion that he’s a blatant misogynist with no theoretical purpose in his comments on woman, is it not the beauty of Nietzsche that we can handle this weakness with his own ideas? Gender is plural, it fluctuates and means many things to many people at many times. Even if Nietzsche didn’t specifically address this, it is his own framework which can be used to correct that misstep. That being said, I don’t read Nietzsche as a misogynist. As Lawrence Hatab rightly recognizes, if feminism “means “equality,” that is to say, affirming and recommending the participation of women in “man’s world,” it is clearly Nietzsche’s view that this represents not a step up but in fact a regressive decline and loss of power. If feminine traits could be characterized as: playfulness, adornment, instinctiveness, unpredictability, sensuality, nurturing (e.g., child rearing); and masculine traits as: seriousness, rationality, orderliness, de-sensualization, productivity (e.g., a “career”)-then Nietzsche seems to be saying that the repudiation of feminine traits in favor of masculine traits is an exchange of strength for weakness.”¹¹ The lack of objectivity in woman is not a bad thing, it is exactly that what makes her strong. One must remember that for Nietzsche, as in Stirner and Bataille, the development of rationality is a restriction of instinct, of nature, of desire; it is a negation. Woman has power precisely because she is not caught up in these fabrications of man. Nietzsche’s anti-feminism is not a prejudice against women, it is attacking a prejudice against difference, it is part of his protest of equality. Equality is a negation of difference. His attribution of western culture to man is not a proclamation of man’s superiority to woman, it is a testament to his sickness which western culture stinks of.

To assemble the most powerful, hungry, destructive yet self-affirming Nietzsche-machine, an unprecedented healthiness who can resist even the most seductive venom, that is then the goal in this essay — to give that machine a tongue! This power already exists in Nietzsche and his abundant offspring, it must be carved out; actualized and given expression. I must widen and rearrange the mosaic to create a potently destructive machine. We must take the massive portrait of Nietzsches and modify the brush strokes, expelling weak life-denial and creating a work of art unimaginably powerful and monstrous enough to make the weak and their weak stomachs crumble in their inability to digest it. They take this profound weakness as strength, what they know as power is really an infection, a degeneration — no doubt they will be destroyed by the first true display of greatness shown to them. When finally confronted with the truth which was always a falsity for them, with the strength they always thought was the weak ones opposing them, with their sickness of hatred which they always mistook for “good spirit”, they cannot bare it. This wonderful Nietzsche-machine — that destruction is his function. Only the greatest Nietzsche can deal with such disillusioned sickness!

To will, to change, to create, to overcome, to never be static — these are characteristics of any strong Nietzsche — to say No to everything like never before and still be a Yes-type, to affirm himself among a world which disgusts him. Nietzsche is a negative map¹², he created a plurality of new values and truths out of destruction of [his] sickness. He was a walking contradiction; sick and strong, the great diagnostician of nihilism and the brutal active nihilist. We need a strong stomach. We need more destruction; something finally effective. Philosophizing with a hammer was a great step, but we must philosophize with fire. What does philosophizing with fire entail? — Complete destruction, a phoenix-like rise into the uncertainty of the future. “Fire represents a process of destruction, and only in this sense can one imagine everything ‘turning into fire’. In return, the only thing that naturally arises from fire is smoke and ashes’.”¹³ This smoke and ashes are the material for new worlds. Bataille was perhaps the first to recognize not just the affirmative, powerful part of Nietzsche, but also the destruction in his project, the disdain for his time from which his creations bloomed, “There exists an idea of Nietzsche as the philosopher of the “will to power,” the idea that this is how he saw himself and how he was accepted. I think of him more as a philosopher of evil. For him, the attraction and value of evil, it seems to me, gave significance to what he intended when he spoke of power.”.¹⁴

This essay is only the blueprint of a flamethrower, of a dissolving power that can guide Capital — dragging its sick machines with it — into its grave. I don’t want a dogmatic Nietzsche. Anything that is lacking or insufficient in this paper is but an opportunity for myself, other communists, Nietzscheans, and whoever thinks they’re strong enough — they must have strong stomachs! Good minds and ears are not enough — to create something better, stronger, more resistant to and disdainful for sickness.

  1. Cody Without Organs and Don’t Even Dream About It
  2. Reference to Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols: or How to Philosophize with a Hammer, his great book of nihilism
  3. The Birth of Tragedy, which he calls offensively Hegelian in Ecce Homo
  4. Thus Spoke Zarathustra
  5. Nietzsche and Philosophy, Deleuze
  6. Walter Kaufmann explains Nietzsche’s sister’s vulgarization of her brother’s work in the prologue, titled The Nietzsche Legend, to his book Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist
  7. Ecce Homo, Nietzsche says he gave Zarathustra a tongue
  8. On Nietzsche, Bataille, xxiii
  9. Again, Kaufmann’s prologue to his Nietzsche. This prologue and Kaufmann’s work on Nietzsche in general have been prime sources for this work. Despite issues I may have with the way he portrays interpretation of Nietzsche, his own interpretation is extremely important, and in my view one of the stronger Nietzsches.
  10. Kaufmann’s Nietzsche, p.11
  11. Nietzsche on Woman, Lawrence J. Hatab.
  12. Negative Maps: Minor Language Games and Psychosis
  13. The Art and Thought of Heraclitus, Charles Kahn, 145
  14. On Nietzsche, Bataille



Anarchist and Communist, affinity for schizoanalysis and ‘post-structuralism’

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Marxian Ivy

Anarchist and Communist, affinity for schizoanalysis and ‘post-structuralism’