Nietzsche & Anarchism: An Elective Affinity and a Nietzschean reading of the December ’08 revolt in Athens
This is an original and convincing account of the left-libertarian dimensions of Nietzsche’s thought, and a valuable corrective to its distorted appropriation by the far right.
Prof. Dr. Uri Gordon,
Co-convenor, Anarchist Studies Network
What is the relationship between Nietzsche and anarchism? And what relevance does Nietzsche have for understanding emergent forms of radical politics? These are the two questions that drive this compelling investigation into Nietzsche’s philosophy. Surely this is an impossible premise, though. Many have tried and failed to derive a radical political interpretation from Nietzsche. Isn’t Nietzsche’s critique of Enlightenment humanism irretrievably tied to an aristocratic conservatism? And didn't he once refer to the anarchists of the nineteenth century as dogs roaming the streets of European culture, dripping with the venom of ressentiment and embodying the worst aspects of slave morality and the democratic herd?
However, as Iliopolous shows in his original reading, there are a series of ‘elective affinities’ that can be formed – through the help of other thinkers like Walter Benjamin and Gustav Landauer - between Nietzsche’s anti-statism and the anti-authoritarian political philosophy of anarchism. What emerges from this is a kind of spiritual anarchism and a creative political and ethical assemblage that can be applied to contemporary insurrections. In a fascinating analysis of the Greek December – the anarchist revolt against the Greek state in 2008 – Iliopoulos shows how we might understand the political event in terms of Nietzschean categories of the Apollonian and Dionysian, master and slave morality, ressentiment, eternal return, and the overman.
Not only does the book open up a new way of reading Nietzsche, but also equips activists with a series of philosophical and ethical tools for understanding themselves and the struggles in which they are engaged.
Prof. Dr. Saul Newman
Goldsmiths University of London, UK
This book aims to establish the bond between Friedrich Nietzsche and the anarchists, through the apparatus of “elective affinity”, and to challenge the boundaries of several anarchist trends – especially “classical” and “post” anarchism – and “ideologies” like anarchism and libertarian Marxism. Moreover, it highlights the importance of reading Nietzsche politically, in a radical way, to understand his utility for the contemporary anarchist movement.
The review of the literature concerning the Nietzsche-anarchy relationship shows the previously limited bibliography and stresses the possibility of exploring this connection, with the methodological help of Michael Löwy’s concept of “elective affinity”. The significance of this finding is that the relevant affinity may contribute to an alternative, to the dominant, perception of anarchism as an ideology. It may also designate its special features together with its weaknesses, meaning the objections of Nietzsche to certain aspects of the anarchist practices and worldview (violence, resentment, bad conscience), thus opening a whole new road of self-criticism for the anarchists of the twenty first century. In addition, the location and analysis of the elective affinity serves the debunking of the Nietzschean concepts used by conservative and right-wing readings in order to appropriate Nietzsche, and of the accusations that the German philosopher had unleashed against anarchists, which reveals his misunderstanding of anarchist politics.
The final part of this book applies the whole analysis above on a Nietzschean reading of the December ’08 revolt in Athens based on the “Of the Three Metamorphoses” discourse from Thus Spoke Zarathustra, offering an alternative view of the events that shook Greece and also had an important global impact.
Part A: Introduction
Nietzsche and Anarchism, Nietzsche’s Interpreters, Elective Affinity and its Effects, Literature Context
Part B: The Anarchists and The Political Friedrich Nietzsche
The Anarchists: Origin, Currents, Ideas, Thinkers
The Political Friedrich Nietzsche: Philosophical Concepts
Part C: Establishing the Elective Affinity
Nietzsche in Anarchism and Libertarian Marxism, Anarchism in Nietzsche
Part D: Case Study
Nietzsche and December ’08, December’s Historical Background, Mainstream Perceptions of the December ’08 Revolt and their Inadequacies / The Anarchist Reading, The Three Metamorphoses and/of the Decembrian Revolt, A Nietzschean Critical Synopsis of December ’08
Part E: Conclusions
Christos Iliopoulos was born and lives in Athens where he works as a teacher of Theory of Knowledge, Politics, Political Theory, Philosophy and History in secondary education.
He holds a PhD in Political Philosophy and Theory from Loughborough University (UK), where he explored the political elective affinities of Friedrich Nietzsche. He has also received an MA in Political Science and Sociology from the National University of Athens, and his BSc in Applied Physics and Mathematics from the National Technical University of Athens (Greece) – MSc equivalent, where he majored in Optoelectronics & Laser Physics as well as Nuclear Physics & Elementary Particles. His academic interests include philosophy of science, political theology, as well as the resignification of philosophical concepts through the practices of social movements. He has participated in conferences, workshops and seminars of academic and educational interest and has published a number of relevant papers and articles. He is currently a member of the World Philosophy Network, the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO), the British Postgraduate Philosophy Association (BPPA) and the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR).
Anarchy, Post Anarchism, Nietzsche, Elective Affinity, December 2008, Libertarian Marxism