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Nietzsche & anarchism: an elective affinity, and a Nietzschean reading of the December 08 revolt in Athens

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posted on 2014-11-17, 14:02 authored by Christos Iliopoulos
The aim of this research is 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 hitherto limited bibliography and stresses the possibility of exploring this connection, with the methodological help of Michael Löwy s concept of elective affinity . The research opens with a discussion of anarchism, following the dominant model for categorizing anarchist traditions, presenting its basic features and currents and drawing on its historical development. This leads to the introduction of two points (the questioning of the anarchist canon and the exposure of the diversity that basic anarchist concepts bear among different anarchist currents) which contest the rigid ideological perception of anarchism in favour of a fluid and dynamic anarchy. There emerges the elective affinity with Nietzsche, serving a double goal: the unification of the distinct anarchist tendencies and the definition of the anarchist parameters in relation to other ideologies. The following section of the thesis examines Nietzsche, by presenting the evolution of his philosophical thought and the fundamental theses of his perception of politics. It, then, continues with a detailed analysis of the main concepts of his philosophy based on the interpretation made by Gilles Deleuze, Alexander Nehamas and Keith Ansell-Pearson, thus structuring its interpretative context for establishing the Nietzsche-anarchy connection. This establishment is realized in a dual way. Firstly, by exploring the elective affinity through the presence of Nietzsche in the thought and politics of anarchist/libertarian thinkers (Goldman, Landauer, Benjamin) and currents (post-anarchism), and secondly by recognizing the anarchist worldview in the Nietzschean philosophy. The first path (Nietzsche in anarchism) shows how Nietzsche has interacted with or has been absorbed by the anarchist way of thinking, whereas the second path (anarchism in Nietzsche) reveals the affinal worldview of the two parts by extensively using the interpretation context mentioned above. The final section of the thesis 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. What has been found is the existence of a clear bond, between Nietzsche and the anarchists, which even reaches the upper levels of Löwy s elective affinity , that is Nietzschean Anarchism as a result of the two parts interactive fusion. 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.





  • Social Sciences


  • Politics and International Studies


© Christos Iliopoulos

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en

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