A Florilegia of why no one should pretend surprise that Nietzsche has returned on the global far right
We at Castalian stream agree that close reading of philosophical texts is vital, especially when they are evoked by people who, as political agents, don’t especially care to attend too closely to what they’re doing. Nietzsche, for one, is today back on the Far Right. This wouldn’t have seemed unusual circa 1950. However, since the 1960s, readings which have “softened” the man who declared himself “dynamite” have been accepted by parts of the liberal academia.*
* Championed by figures inclusive of Blanchot, Bataille, Derrida, Foucault, Kaufman…
These readings argue that there is no rational reason why Far Rightists return to Nietzsche, almost always. Why Nietzsche, when most philosophers are avoided or reviled? Truly, even with other philosophers some fascists admire like Plato and Hegel, there is much less unanimity amongst Far Right “thought leaders”, with views ranging from support to hostility. (Both Plato and Hegel defend forms of reasoned public life).
The “Left Nietzscheans” also claim that critics pointing out the connections between Nietzschean ideas and those of the Far Right mean that the critics themselves are effectively identifying with the Nazi perspective on Nietzsche. But, since almost no one outside of the same Far Right wants this, we should not take the critics’ observations and warnings — or the return of the Far Right Nietzsche globally — seriously. It is a matter of ‘misreadings’.
We don’t think either argument really stacks up, on any relatively non-esoteric hermeneutics: the more literally we read Nietzsche without pretending he did not mean everything he wrote and published, the more clear his metapolitics is, which is in no way to express sympathy with it!
Leaving all that aside, here’s a florilegia for readers who want to know which passages, and which Nietzsche, Richard Spencer, “Bronze Age Pervert”, Gregory Johnson, Alain de Benoist, Aleksandr Dugin, and other Far Rightists do read and take to heart in different constellations. If you read the below, you’ll be prepared next time you come across those influenced by them online.