Don Dombowsky

Bishop's University, 2006

Remarks on Deleuze’s “Pensée nomade”:
Politics, Tactics and the Philosophy of Law

The Nomad’s Method

This essay is not about the Deleuzian corpus in general, although there are points of contact with the discussion of the state in Anti-Oedipus, the notion of ‘crowned anarchy’ in Difference and Repetition and the description of the aphorism in the “Treatise on Nomadology”.[1] Rather, its aim is to provide critical commentary on one text only, “Pensée nomade”– its propositional content.[2]
However, making one concession to immanent critique, it may be said, for reasons I will explain, that “Pensée nomade” represents a regressive moment in relation to Deleuze’s Nietzsche and Philosophy[3] or to his comments on Nietzsche in Pure Immanence[4] where the tactical appropriation of forces is conceived as a law of the political ontology of force; for example, when he speaks of the ancient Greek philosopher wearing the mask of the priest.[5]

Many commentators today defend the stance that Nietzsche is political, given the extensive political commentary in his work, or that his philosophy has political consequences, but there is continuing disagreement regarding the extent to which Nietzsche’s political commentary can be converted into a unified political position. Deleuze sees in Nietzsche a philosopher of ‘becoming’ and, however sophistically such a term is presently employed or superficially invoked in pseudo-arguments, it means precisely for Deleuze in “Pensée nomade” that Nietzsche makes no attempt at recodification and thus achieves no unity of position.[6]
This essay should contribute to a more comprehensive conception of Nietzschean perspectivism (as political technology rather than as merely epistemology) in focusing on a generally neglected feature of Nietzschean political philosophy, the precise nature of Nietzschean immoralism as spectral-syncretism,[7] its capacity or virtù, as Nietzsche adopts the Machiavellian vocabulary, for perspectivistic dissimulation or esotericism. This implies looking at Nietzsche’s doctrine of perspectivism from the point of view of the politician.
But strictly speaking, I want to contest Deleuze’s claim that Nietzsche resists codification, but particularly, political codification, as Deleuze takes Nietzsche to be a political thinker. Deleuze’s claim rests on the notion that Nietzsche did not propose any alternative regime of laws, contracts or institutions and, secondly, on a description of Nietzsche’s textual method which involves an ancillary description of the role proper names play in the Nietzschean corpus.
I will argue, to the contrary, that Nietzsche did, in a reconstructive register, propose an alternative regime of laws, contracts and institutions, rethinking political life forms of the past (Greek, Roman, Hindu) not in a conservative or romantic sense but in terms of their strongest features, out of which he aspired to derive a new synthesis, and that he may be codified accordingly; and, secondly, that Deleuze’s analysis of Nietzsche’s method obfuscates the more profound activity of Nietzschean tactics, the unequivocal fact that Nietzsche’s philosophical legislator possesses virtù armed with political technology or techniques of domination with a cunning the ancient nobles unfortunately did not possess, which resulted in the defeat of their own expressive transparency at the hands of a predatory (Christian) virtuality (cf. GM I 7-10).

With respect to the contemporary literature on Nietzsche, the first argument announces nothing new, at least in its generality. Nietzsche’s political conception has been delineated in various ways. We no longer deny that he has one or more than one. The second and more subtle argument that Nietzsche is a political tactician finds some recognition in Lukács who understands that the Nietzschean aphorism is inherently suited to the “scenting of future developments”;[8] and more recently in Waite, who recognizes the Machiavellian and Jesuitical trace in Nietzsche,[9] but their formulations require, in my view, a greater precision and elaboration in terms of Nietzsche’s overall political praxis.
In the following, I will provide an exposition of Deleuze’s “Pensée nomade” interspersed and concluding with commentary on Deleuze’s central propositions on Nietzschean method, the question of legal, contractual or institutional recodification – and I will emphasize the legal – and the elements, including the tactical, which inform Nietzsche’s political thinking.

In “Pensée nomade”, Nietzsche’s “task”, in an already problematic assertion given Nietzsche’s description of his own revaluation of all values, is situated by Deleuze “beyond all the codes of the past, present, and future”, beyond the conceptual aggregate of traditional philosophy, itself the child of the imperial state, reduced to its rational, administrative instrument; codifiable, because it always related itself to laws, contracts and institutions. Nietzsche’s antiphilosophic task, conversely, “does not and will not allow itself to be codified” as, for instance, Marxism or Freudianism were. Nietzsche’s text (style and aphorism) cannot, for inherent reasons, reproduce a “state apparatus” or an “internal despotic unity”.
Following these parameters, Deleuze’s principal claim in “Pensée nomade” is that “Nietzsche is the only thinker who makes no attempt at recodification”. Nietzsche is resistant to codification because, as Deleuze describes it, he “makes no attempt at recodification”, because he refuses to reassert, and moreover rejects, the three “great instruments of codification”, namely, laws, contracts and institutions. This refusal, however, does not imply that Nietzsche is unpolitical, as Deleuze locates in Nietzsche a politics of anarchy and liberation.
According to Deleuze, Nietzsche is also resistant to codification for a second reason: his method – the method which governs the writing of his text (style and aphorism), which Deleuze calls, “a new kind of book”; new because the authorial function is so effectively displaced. It is through his method that Nietzsche “announces the advent of a new politics”, a method which constitutes a “revolutionary” practice of “absolute” decodification.
Deleuze explains that the political and “revolutionary character” of Nietzsche’s text becomes apparent at the level of method: “it is his method that makes Nietzsche’s text into something not to be characterized in itself as ‘fascist’, ‘bourgeois’, or ‘revolutionary’, but to be regarded as an exterior field where fascist, bourgeois, and revolutionary forces meet head on (s’affrontent).”[10]
This passage declares two facts: that Nietzsche’s philosophy contains fascist, bourgeois and revolutionary aspects and that these aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophy oppose one another in a corpus that must be regarded as an ‘exterior field’ of conflicting, irreconcilable forces.[11]

The White List

With respect to its lineage, the Deleuzian reading inherits the view of Karl Jaspers (without acknowledging it) with a certain modification in vocabulary (nomadism instead of contradiction) and Bataille’s defense of Nietzsche from fascist appropriation, itself inspired by Jaspers.[12] In articulating the ‘mutual exclusivity’ of Nietzscheanism and fascism, Bataille explains “the contradictory thought of Nietzsche”[13] with a formulation that anticipates Deleuze’s own regarding Nietzsche’s method: “He represented too many mobile instincts, available for virtually any violent action”.[14]
Jaspers may be seen, in his work from 1935, to have performed the initial operation to insulate Nietzsche from any attempt at political codification.[15] Ernst Behler aptly paraphrases Jaspers’ description of Nietzsche’s text (analogous to the Deleuzian reading) as a “self-dissembling writing, groundless thought... that brings all apodictic statements into question through the consideration of new possibilities”.[16] Bataille drew upon this principle in defending Nietzsche from fascist appropriation in 1937, explaining that the “very movement of Nietzsche’s thought implies a destruction of the different possible foundations of current political positions.”[17] Insofar as contradiction could be viewed as the organizing principle of Nietzsche’s thought, this thought could provide neither justification nor sanction for any political order, rather, it would evade all attempts at political codification.
But why did Bataille not think Nietzsche’s ‘mobile instincts’ in terms of the psychological structure of fascism he wrote about, specifically, fascism’s ‘reappropriation’ and ‘reconstitution’ of historical forms of authority – namely, royal, military and religious – for the establishment of the spine of its power?[18] For Bataille had already recognized that Nietzsche “borrowed from the dominant classes of primarily military epochs” such as the Italian Renaissance.[19] (In addition to which Nietzsche recommended forms of royalist and religious legitimation.) Bataille, too, recognized that just as “fascism [was] an imperative response to the growing threat of a working class movement”,[20] so, too, Nietzsche had nothing “whatsoever in common with the working proletariat”; but, at the same time, expressed a pointed “hatred of bourgeois spiritual elevation”.[21] Bataille saw Nietzsche as strictly antibourgeois, but not from “below”.[22] He recognized that the Nietzschean revolution was a revolution from above.

And the same question may be asked of Deleuze’s reading of Nietzsche’s ‘mobile war machine’. However, it should be asked first, why does Deleuze see the ‘fascist’, ‘bourgeois’ and ‘revolutionary’ aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophy as necessarily opposed to each other? – as he must or his characterization of Nietzsche’s ‘method’ as decodifying and annulling any formation of power or expression of ideology makes no sense.

Nietzsche’s philosophy arguably has fascist or protofascist features and these features do not necessarily contradict the bourgeois and revolutionary[23] aspects of his social and political philosophy.[24] If we take security and self-preservation to be the foundation of bourgeois philosophy, then Nietzsche is antibourgeois given his pervasive critique of this foundation (these values).[25] However, if we take property and the policy to demobilize militant labor as the foundation of bourgeois philosophy, then Nietzsche is bourgeois.[26] Historically, too, there is no necessary contradiction. The fascist movements of the last century possessed all of these characteristics. Nicos Poulantzas has written that fascism “constitutes a particular form of state and regime, corresponding to a determinate policy of the bourgeoisie.... The policy... to annihilate the working class”.[27] Fascism was rooted in a bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ensemble; these were its class components.[28] In Germany, conservative revolutionaries such as Hans Freyer and Ernst Jünger called for a cultural revolution from the Right, antibourgeois in the Nietzschean sense (placing martial valor and sacrifice before security), that would leave “existing property relations intact”.[29] This roughly translates into the fact that under fascism (as under Bonapartism) the bourgeoisie did not rule but their economic interests were protected. In other words, under fascism (as under Bonapartism), “the bourgeoisie renounces its political power alone, for the sake of maintaining its social power”.[30]
In his attack on organized labor or trade unions (TI Expeditions 40), Nietzsche affirms existing property relations and enacts the ‘determinate policy of the bourgeoisie’. His revaluation of all values leaves ‘property relations intact’ with an apology for exploitation (BGE 259). The drive for security is denigrated and all the “power structures of the old society” (EH WD 1) are at risk; but the Nietzschean cultural revolution moves only gradually. No sudden violence brings the old order down (D 534). Rather, the tactic is one of infiltration (cf. BGE 61) and even the facade of democracy (WP 132 Nachlaß 1885 KSA 11 35[9]).[31]
Thus, we may conclude that the fascist, bourgeois and revolutionary features which Deleuze implies constitutes a contradictory structure in the Nietzschean corpus, may be seen to be entirely harmonious, particularly, once we adopt a nuanced view of Nietzsche’s antibourgeois-bourgeois philosophy and acquire an understanding of actual fascism or protofascism.[32]

The White List II: Contradictory But Nondialectical

It is valid to equate Deleuze‘s term ‘nomadic’ and Jaspers’ term ‘contradictory’ because they describe the character of Nietzsche’s thinking (or method) and the intentionality of Nietzsche’s text in virtually the same manner. Both characterize Nietzsche’s thinking as anti-Hegelian or antidialectical at base and consequentially. This means, for Jaspers specifically, that Nietzsche’s thought does not attain “dialectical completion”.[33] Jaspers recognizes “dialectical connections” in Nietzsche’s philosophy but no “final truths” and no “repose”.[34] Nietzsche “is the educator who has no doctrines or imperatives and no fixed and final criteria”.[35] Jaspers declares the “inexpugnable contradictoriness of all Nietzsche’s writings”.[36] Everything he says turns into its opposite: “He must assert a great deal to have his assertions turn at once into their opposites; it is as though a fanaticism of thought were constantly changing into another fanaticism of thought as a result of which all fanaticism is placed at the level of a mere attempting that annuls itself”.[37] This is essentially what Deleuze wants to say when he describes Nietzsche’s method – ‘a fanaticism of thought... constantly changing’.

For both Jaspers and Deleuze, Nietzsche presents a new way of writing, a ‘new book’ or ‘new philosophizing’, which decodifies or ‘annuls’ itself “as a result of intention”[38] (or ‘method’). What makes Nietzsche’s ‘book’ (Deleuze) or his ‘philosophizing’ (Jaspers) ‘new’ is its “protean variability” (as protean as the will to power). What they both identify in Nietzsche is his “capacity for assuming different guises”.[39] For them, it does not mean that he assumes different guises for any specific end other than his own decodifying method. As Jaspers states it, Nietzsche “proceeds by overcoming every form of being, every value, every fixation of essence within the world” in the form of an “endless dialectic”.[40]

Unlike Jaspers, Deleuze does not describe Nietzsche’s method in the language of ‘dialectic’ or ‘contradiction’ per se. His argument in Nietzsche and Philosophy is that for “the speculative element of negation, opposition or contradiction, Nietzsche substitutes the practical element of difference”.[41] But he describes Nietzsche this way because he wants to accentuate Nietzsche’s anti-Hegelianism. He is not arguing that Nietzsche is not thinking in terms of oppositions or contradictions. Rather he is saying that Nietzsche does not think in terms of their reconciliation. Nietzsche’s pathos of distance does not attempt to reconcile, resolve or suppress contradiction, rather, affirm it.[42] When Deleuze says Nietzsche opposes difference to contradiction, he means dialectical contradiction; contradiction that is negated and reconciled. And that is why, for Deleuze, the problem is not contradiction or opposition but “contradiction and its resolution” or “reconciliation”.[43] The character of Nietzsche’s Dionysian philosophy is antidialectical because its “decisive point” is “the point at which negation expresses an affirmation of life, destroys reactive forces and restores the rights of activity.” At this point there is no “reconciliation of opposites”.[44] There is only the affirmation of destroying. The negation in Nietzsche’s revaluation of all values is that the “values known up to the present lose all their value.... Sovereign affirmation is inseparable from the destruction of all known values, it turns this destruction into a total destruction.”[45] Unlike the Hegelian dialectic, Nietzsche’s ‘sovereign affirmation’ will not be “reconciled with religion, Church, State and all the forces which nourished it.”[46]
In his book on Deleuze, Michael Hardt comments that Nietzschean affirmation “is intimately tied to antagonism.” and that the “key” to Deleuze’s “conception is the... nondialectical character of the negative moment.” This negation is nondialectical “because it refuses the conservative attitude of the dialectic: It does not recuperate the essence of its enemy” nor preserve what has been revalued. So “Deleuze’s affirmative philosophy does not refuse or ignore the power of the negative”; it is just that it involves no preservation but, rather, is “destruction without reserve”[47].
The Deleuzian conception is consistent with Nietzsche’s own in as much as Nietzsche’s philosophy does make antagonism (or the agon) fundamental: Christian values – noble values: we alone, we free spirits who have become free, have restored this opposition, the greatest opposition of values there is (A 37); and in as much as Nietzsche’s master is never reconciled with the slave; does not depend on the slave for recognition: “they did not have to establish their happiness artificially by examining their enemies” (GM I 10); and in as much as the “annihilator of morality” (EH WGB 1) “denies all solidarity with what degenerates” (EH D 2). Sovereign affirmation “operates a complete rupture with its opponent”[48].

The Other Devil

It was Lou Salomé, however, who anticipated, in the first systematic work on Nietzsche published in 1894, the basic position of Jaspers and Deleuze.[49] In her book, Salomé bluntly identifies the problem of codifying Nietzsche, saying that “Nietzsche produced a writing endlessly open to interpretation”. Any recodification of Nietzsche, she implies, is the result of highly selective readings where “his ideas [are] isolated from their context and turned into slogans and shorthand concepts at the service of contentious parties”.[50]
For Salomé, Nietzsche as a philosopher is essentially a ‘wanderer’ (the metaphor comes from Nietzsche himself) who oscillates constantly between two points: pathology and recuperation (or convalescence). Whenever Nietzsche is recuperating he is simply wearing a mask in order to disguise his philosophy’s basic Dionysian instability. That instability is part of a process: “Changes of opinion and urges to wander are deeply embedded in the heart of Nietzsche’s philosophy; they are categorically decisive for the manner of his acquisition of knowledge”. [51] Nietzsche exhibits a willingness to ‘relinquish his own convictions’ in his description of the free spirits who are “noble traitors to everything” (H I 637) – they constantly move between “contradictory” positions or doctrines (H P 4). But where Jaspers and Deleuze see this ‘wandering’ as simply ‘method’ consciously or intentionally devised by Nietzsche to counter the Hegelian system of ‘absolute knowledge’, Salomé sees it as religious or intellectual pathology – ‘urges’: ‘ categorically decisive’.

Salomé interprets Nietzsche’s ‘essence’ in terms of his ‘thought experience’. She does not view him as a theorist. A good illustration of her general approach is the way in which she treats Nietzsche’s concept of the subject as a ‘multiplicity’. This is a concept Nietzsche activates against the Christian and Cartesian concept of a unitary ‘soul’. Rather than attaching to it any theoretical significance, she probes into Nietzsche’s psyche where “the recluse must divide himself into a multiplicity of thinkers”[52] Nietzsche’s theory of the subject is reduced to Nietzsche’s “essence” which consists of “changing pictures of shifting drives”. This ‘essence’ is construed as Nietzsche’s “typical experience, which always recurs” in the form of endless self-overcoming; transcending and perishing.[53] With this reduction of Nietzsche “to the human being and not the theorist”[54], we are left not with the problems of philosophy, but with the “pathological aspect of [a certain] kind of intellectual progression”.[55] So Salomé projects Nietzsche’s insanity back into his philosophy, and his philosophy is the insanity itself.

Lukács The Ass

The descriptive terms of Deleuze’s essay, it seems apparent, are tacitly informed by the descriptions of interpretation, life and will to power Nietzsche provides in one section of On the Genealogy of Morals: the idea that “whatever exists... is again and again reinterpreted to new ends... redirected by some power superior to it”; the idea that “all events in the organic world are... processes of subduing [and]... counteractions” (GM II 12). These descriptions, it may reasonably be assumed, are modified by Deleuze into an account of what the Nietzschean text does (how it acts) and what it permits to be done to it (how it is acted upon). Deleuze consequently defines Nietzsche’s text as an “exterior field” where these organic ‘processes of subduing’ and ‘counteractions’, to use the Nietzschean terminology, take place.[56] The Nietzschean text deploys an agonistic “play of forces” or “dynamic flux” (the Dionysian and Heraclitean universe), which makes it inherently nomadic (or, as Jaspers would say, contradictory). It is for this reason that Deleuze, in Nietzsche and Philosophy, regards Nietzsche as the propagator of a “multiple and pluralist affirmation”,[57] a rapturous dilation of Nietzsche’s doctrine of perspectivism, ostensibly oblivious to Nietzsche’s affirmation of order of rank (Rangordnung).[58]
These descriptive terms from On the Genealogy of Morals are, it would appear, combined, again tacitly, with Nietzsche’s description of the free spirits who have “access to many and contradictory modes of thought” (H P 4), who represent a “spiritual nomadism” (geistigen Nomadenthum) (AOM 211), antidogmatic and independent of any particular rule or prejudice (BGE 44). These descriptions – of the activity of interpretation and of the free spirits – essentially, though only tacitly so, may be seen to comprise the account and character of the Nietzschean text Deleuze provides us with (‘self-dissembling’ and nomad).
I will not enter into an extensive discussion regarding the inherent purpose of the Nietzschean aphorism or of Nietzsche’s style of presentation.[59] Nietzsche’s own explanations aside as to why he writes in aphorisms, the implicit enemy of the Deleuzian position, as he was for Bataille, is Lukács.[60] Lukács viewed Nietzsche as “the leading philosopher of the imperialist reaction”, engaged in an “ideological war against the proletariat”.[61]

The Nietzschean aphorism, according to Deleuze, “signifies nothing” in itself. Rather, it is the dominant force, or interpretation, and always only provisionally so, which determines its meaning or sense, or “redirects” it. Nietzsche, as a matter of method, deploys many “exterior forces” in his texts which enable an agon to take place in interpretation. As such, the reading, or “exterior force”, which actually enables the text to communicate, or “transmit”, will be the “legitimate” one. Thus, it is possible that a variety of political forces may potentially take possession of Nietzsche, as has been the case historically, including revolutionaries of many kinds: royalists, fascists, anticolonialists and radical democrats (Deleuze’s point is simply an indirect reference to this truism). What is “legitimate” in reading Nietzsche’s text is to subdue it and make it work (a position which finds agreement with Foucault).[62]
Nietzsche’s text then, may (and by design), according to Deleuze, admit of several interpretations or misinterpretations. In this sense, it is a “mobile war machine”. Although, Deleuze says Nietzsche may not be codified, his reading, nonetheless, codifies Nietzsche in terms of an anarchist, antistatist, anti-imperialist, antifascist revolutionary political designation: a politics of “laughter” and “liberation”.[63]

It may be assumed from Deleuze’s account that part of our “laughter” and “liberation” in reading Nietzsche lies in reading the proper names which appear throughout the Nietzschean corpus not as “representations” but as “designations of intensity”. This constitutes an ancillary claim in Deleuze’s essay, which complements his characterization of Nietzsche’s method: that the proper names in the Nietzschean corpus (e.g. Romans, Napoleon, Borgia, Wagner, etc.) “come and go” (apparently like Burroughsian characters, but in the language of Beckett). These “designations of intensity” are “masks” which conceal the “agent”; an assertion that strongly dilutes Nietzsche’s own value-allegiances, those opposite values Nietzsche considers to represent “ascending life” (TI Expeditions 33; cf. CW Epilogue), devalues Nietzsche’s war against Christianity and egalitarian ideology, depreciates Nietzsche’s commitments (in terms of values, it is not only the aphorism that points to new possibilities, as if Nietzsche merely revolved in poetic principalities, but the memory of Napoleon Bonaparte [GM I 16] and the Bonapartist reaction).
In fact, it is the Deleuzian reading itself which conceals or suppresses the ‘agent’ in Nietzsche’s text through the claim that Nietzsche does not reassert laws, contracts or institutions; through the claim that Nietzsche’s text is an “exterior field” without consistent signification; and through the claim which reduces the proper names in the Nietzschean corpus to mere ephemera, dilutes their relation and function. Yet, Nietzsche does not give his allegiance to that which only lives for today (cf. TI Expeditions 39), does not affirm the anarchist sense of the Dionysian, which he carefully opposes (GS 370), or “perpetual improvisation” (GS 295). And, accordingly, he does not dissolve the proper name but elevates it – Napoleon, Borgia, Antichrist – in the grand style: as virtù, as Übermensch, as Dionysian, respectively, in chains of equivalence.
Deleuze’s approach to Nietzsche constitutes a general blindness towards Nietzschean values, the kind of ‘war machine’ Nietzsche’s thought really is. It does not detect that what is ‘nomad’ about Nietzsche is not his thought (or say, his political conception), but his tactics (mobilized in support of his political conception).

As I indicated above, the reading of Lukács on the Nietzschean aphorism represents the most direct challenge to the Deleuzian position in the assertion that “a systematic coherence may be detected behind Nietzsche’s aphorisms”,[64] especially where Nietzsche’s social and political philosophy is concerned.[65] Lukács also recognizes the tactical element in Nietzsche’s thought when he writes, “at each stage different aphorisms could be singled out and brought together, in accordance with the needs of the moment”,[66] which is to say, expediently. In recognizing this, Lukács comes closer than Deleuze to capturing what Nietzsche’s political philosophy actually advises. And we cannot fail to note how Lukács reverses Salomé’s position in the same stroke: that when Nietzsche’s thought is recodified, it cannot be assumed that it has been distorted.
Deleuze may be familiar with the ‘spiritual nomadism’ of the free spirits, their ‘access to many and contradictory modes of thought’, but he misses the fact that their ‘thought’ is inherently tactical. Nietzsche strongly dissociates the free spirits from democracy (BGE 44), and says that their ‘problem’ is order of rank or hierarchy (H P 6). But what Nietzsche means when he says that the free spirits have ‘access to many and contradictory modes of thought’ is that their virtù is armed with political technology ( a ‘war of cunning’ and ‘masks’), with the capacity to employ diverse perspectives and interpretations. Nietzsche demonstrates, at various points throughout his corpus, an inquisitive interest in the power religious and political ideals exercise over human beings, in the tactics employed by ‘priestly-philosophical power-structures’,[67] and supports the utilization of practical political techniques to control the constituent power of the democratic masses (cf. BGE 61).

This view is denied by Karl Jaspers,[68] and thus, since he is heir to Jaspers’ reading, it is no surprise that Deleuze obfuscates the real relation between the ‘mask’ and the ‘agent’ in the Nietzschean corpus. The utilization of practical political techniques would involve the maintenance and manipulation of already existing religious and ideological schemata. Nietzsche’s grand politics of virtù would expediently and prudently seize all the rights of the ‘improvers of mankind’, all their techniques for the manipulation of power.[69]

Conspiratorial Politics

Nietzsche revives a war machine in opposition to the constituent power of the people in Christendom and in democratic Europe which constitutes the militant European worker as an avatar of Christian “anarchist agitation in the Empire” (A 58). His philosopher-legislators, who represent the streaming of “political power and philosophy... into the same hands”,[70] along with his conception of political organization, revives a form of philosophical imperialism,[71] an ideal of order emanating from a single power center; an ideal of caste-based social organization, the pyramid shape of society, a natural division of labor in Platonic outlines, in harmony with the elitist ideals of his generation in Italy and France.

The coincidence of philosophy and political power in the figure of the Nietzschean philosopher-legislator is evident in the very fact that because he possesses virtù he must necessarily impose his will (his values) upon another, as the Renaissance conception implies. He legislates politically, because the revaluation of all values is clearly political in its implications (cf. BGE 202); the successful execution of its goals is entirely conflated with a specific form of social and political organization. His spirit is “world-governing” (cf. EH WC 6; WD 1). The “genuine philosophers” are “commanders and legislators” who determine the goals of humanity (BGE 211).
Nietzsche’s ‘task’, which he refers to as the revaluation of all values, this projected construction of ‘reverse ideals’, is largely based upon a reflection on classical and pagan ideals (he does not believe we can return to these), on these past codes, pointing, as did Machiavelli, to the superiority of the ancients.[72] In other words, his own political ideals (for example, his conception of freedom) cannot be separated from his reflection upon traditional social orders (cf. TI Expeditions 43; GM I 16). In this regard (with respect to the establishment of ‘reverse ideals’), Nietzsche’s revaluation of all values does recodify with respect to laws, contracts and institutions in both critical and reconstructive registers, as does his genealogy and symptomatology. This is, ultimately, the “problem of the legislator”: that the “forces that have been unleashed must be harnessed again” (WP 69 n. 39 Nachlaß 1886 KSA 12 2[100]) or recodified as they are, prospectively, in dual typology and order of rank. Such recodification is explicit in these Nietzschean conceptions. When Nietzsche is thinking through the problems of typology and order of rank, he is also thinking through the status of different kinds of laws, contracts and institutions; those we have inherited, those we have lost and those that must be restored or rekindled (cf. GM I 16-17).

Nietzsche’s various criticisms and affirmations of laws, contracts and institutions – these “three great instruments of codification”, as Deleuze calls them – may be seen, essentially, to converge upon a conception of right as ‘special privilege’, exception or immunity (which has been degraded by egalitarianism and ‘rule of law’) and a conception of the multitude (most tangibly, the proletariat of the Paris Commune) as ‘criminal’ and ‘conspiratorial’ (D 206) and, ultimately, through Machiavellian and Bonapartist mediations, as passive material for manipulation and command (BGE 242).[73]
Nietzsche does not reject rule and authority. In fact, he criticizes democracy for producing “distrust of all government” (H 472). In On the Genealogy of Morals, his hypothesis of the will to power is advanced in opposition to the democratic and modern misarchism (hatred of rule or government) which has expropriated all “theory of life” (GM II 12), clearly exhibiting its political rationale. But Nietzsche also admires those strong-willed human beings who “despise the law” (GS 291), examples of whom appear at the end of the Republic and at the dawn of the Roman Empire, and, in general, pleads the case for the right to “exceptional actions” (GM I 5; BGE 202; WP 921 Nachlaß 1887-88 KSA 13 11[146]), a natural right he considers to be the sole province of ‘commanders’, while the multitude is governed by a law or morality these ‘commanders’ shall remain master over (WP 287 Nachlaß 1883-88 KSA 12 7[6]).
When Nietzsche affirms ‘plurality’, or a ‘plurality of norms’, he does so in opposition to the principle of equality of all before the law or the rule of law. Nietzsche’s “New Party of Life” (EH BT 4), in political formation, would follow the ‘law of life’ or order of rank (A 57) as they define it, would implement the legal conditions which would bring into existence an order of castes, would delimit all democratic justice claims (regarding, say, voting, unions or universal education).[74] The ‘New Party of Life’ would make legal conditions subordinate to its goal, however determined, and would not allow these conditions (laws, contracts, treatises) to restrict its vital activity. As I stated above, Nietzsche bases a revision of laws, contracts and institutions on a philosophy of right as ‘privilege’ (as opposed to the equal treatment of individuals) and on a politics which does not support the institutionalization of popular power.

Deleuze proposes that Nietzsche does not recodify in terms of laws, contracts and institutions, has no plan for an alternative political regime. However, I think the converse is true. In what follows, I will indicate the basic features of what are plainly emergent formations in Nietzsche’s political thinking regarding laws, contracts and institutions. The latter two – institutions and contracts – I will address only schematically, and in that order. The former – laws – I will give slightly more definition to, delineating Nietzsche’s own philosophy of law and its historical setting. But a comprehensive treatment of Nietzsche’s philosophy of law is beyond the scope of this essay.
With respect to institutions, Nietzsche is a critic of specific social and political institutions and a proponent of others, including economic, educational and military institutions. He has an opinion on all of these. He criticizes, for example, the stock market and the social welfare state and the democratization of education.

He arguably favors a corporative organization of the worker.[75] He criticizes liberal democratic institutions for their “lack of durability” and “power to organize” and, against these institutions, praises the Imperium Romanum – “this most admirable of all works of art in the grand style” (A 58) – and the Russian Empire (TI Expeditions 39). He validates the Greek institution of the agon with (in Homer’s Contest) and without (in Twilight of the Idols) the institution of ostracism, reflecting his ultimate affirmation of aristocracy. He sets his account of virtù in military institutions (WP 127 Nachlaß 1884 KSA 11 26[417]) and, by extension, in Bonapartist institutions, seeing in Napoleon a representative of the Renaissance soldier. It is evident that Nietzsche is not entirely antistatist, as Deleuze suggests he is, he only rejects specific state formations; namely, those which represent the people, which institutionalize popular power (even though he recognizes that such representation is a ‘lie’). In fact, he praises those “artists of violence and organizers who build states” (GM II 18) and devises his own Hindu-inspired model, with Platonic permutations, of a ‘state apparatus’ (TI ‘Improvers’ 3; 4; A 56; 57).[76] In the template Nietzsche provides for political organization (for a caste system), he includes a monarch (or a king – royalist legitimation), a security apparatus and a shadow government. This organization, as it is designed, is able to make war and organize labor in the sciences and agriculture.
Nietzsche believes that the “condition for the prosperity of life” is “a grand organization of society” (A 58) but, at the same time, he supports only the gradual transformation of “customs and institutions” (WS 221; D 534); he is opposed to violent insurrection. As with his attitude towards the state, Nietzsche opposes only certain kinds of institutions – socialist institutions, for example – he does not reject them all. He sees the need for new ones on the horizon which will reflect the way he conceives “of living and teaching” (EH WGB 1). It is clear that these will have to be “anti-liberal to the point of malice” and anti-democratic, since democracy “has always been the declining form of the power to organize”. These new institutions will have to express “the will to tradition, to authority, to centuries-long responsibility” (TI Expeditions 39); and Nietzsche’s writing, which is a ‘hammer’, prepares their design.

With respect to contracts, the fiction of classical natural law which formed the ideology of the French Revolution, Nietzsche rejects the democratic social contract theory of Rousseau – which presupposes the goodness of human nature and inalienable or inherent rights – as mere “sentimentalism” citing and justifying originary violence (GM II 17). “He who can command”, Nietzsche writes, “what has he to do with contracts?” (GM II 17). More Hobbesian in his description of political dynamics – for example, insofar as he recognizes the role of fear and vanity in the establishment of social order, or insofar as he reduces the social body to the bellum omnium contra omnes, transposing the state of nature (which, like Hobbes, he views in terms of “ruthless inequality” [WS 31]) into the concept of the political[77] – he campaigns for a social experiment in command and obedience, a radical aristocratic order which seeks the “commander” and not a social contract (Z III Law Tables 25), an order which would reduce certain human beings to “slaves” (Sklaven) and “instruments” (Werkzeugen) (BGE 258).
For Nietzsche, there are no rights antecedent to actual, existing power-relations – as opposed, for example, to Locke’s theory of natural rights – rather, like Spinoza, he equates right (jus) with power (potentia).[78] In Human, All Too Human, he quotes, approvingly, Spinoza’s Tractatus Politicus: “the right of every individual is coextensive with its power” (H 92; cf. D 112). Possession of rights always implies the subordination of others expressed in duties. But Nietzsche, unlike Spinoza, and the liberal theorists, dismisses the limitations of civil order and the dictates of reason and self-preservation. The radical aristocratic society Nietzsche envisions recognizes ‘equality for equals and inequality for unequals’ (inter pares), the classical, Aristotelian conception of proportional equality, and recognizes rights as something that should be ‘earned’ rather than ‘given’ (TI Expeditions 48). The radical aristocrat will form contracts between equals in power, but if their power declines he will break them; which is to say, he will because he can (cf. GM I 13). For Nietzsche, a contract can last only as long as the parties to it remain equal in strength. Consequently, the “rule of law” is, at most, only “a temporary means advised by prudence, not an end” (WS 26). It is not “valid eternally” (WS 39).

Nietzsche pronounces the ideal of giving oneself laws (GS 262). And these laws, for historical reasons (the death of God), cannot be expressions of a “moral world order” or “ultimate moral purposes” (GS 357), but merely reflections of a community. In The Anti-Christ, against Kantian ethics, Nietzsche writes, “each one of us should devise his own virtue, his own categorical imperative. A people perishes if it mistakes its own duty for the concept of duty in general” (A 11). Consistent with his realism (and the borders it implies), Nietzsche rejects the theory of natural law. For him, all law is positive, a human artifact reflecting social conditions and relations of power.[79] “‘Just’ and ‘unjust’”, Nietzsche writes, “exist only after the institution of the law.... To speak of just or unjust in itself is quite senseless” (GM II 11). In this respect, Nietzsche may be situated within the context of the historical school of law (and even ethnological jurisprudence) following von Ihering, Kohler, Herder, Niebuhr, von Savigny and Eichhorn, all critics of the natural law tradition.[80] Of some of the figures in this school, Treitschke says: “By them the law was treated as a living thing, developing with the Nation’s development”.[81] Authority was not traced back to any origin “superior to the will of the rulers”; they rejected “the notion of a natural condition anterior to the state”.[82] One of the consequences of the rejection of natural law, again quoting Treitschke, is that “personal liberty” is no longer conceived as an “absolute right, but [is] limited by the conditions existing in the State”.[83] For Kohler, who read and was read by Nietzsche,[84] the individual must sacrifice himself to culture and genius (recalling Nietzsche’s prescriptions in Human, All Too Human). Law must be made to stimulate these conditions and that may necessitate the erosion of existing rights.[85] Nietzsche, himself, obviously links the cultivation of the noble type to the progressive dissolution of equal rights (cf. BGE 22 on the fundamental antagonism).

Princeps a legibus solutus

With respect to laws, Nietzsche rejects legal orders wherein “every will must consider every other will its equal” (egalitarian political and legal systems). He views legal conditions as “exceptional conditions” (GM II 11),[86] thus sharing with Carl Schmitt the concept that “the sovereign is whoever decides what constitutes an exception”.[87] Like Schmitt, Nietzsche privileges the state of exception, the decisionistic theory of sovereignty which annihilates the norm. The Nietzschean philosopher-legislator establishes the legal from an extra-legal (or political) standpoint: the “struggle between power-complexes” is prior (GM II 11). The law does not apply to the one who acts as legislator and that is why the legislator is recognized as sovereign. Nietzsche’s notion of sovereignty is predicated on the notion of the erosion of previous rights, that the violation of previous norms is the essence of law. That is the moment he privileges in the revaluation of all values: the right (or power) to new values. Incarnated in this moment as political force are the creative free spirits: “those who do not regard themselves as being bound by existing laws and customs are making the first attempts to organize themselves and therewith to create for themselves a right” (D164).
Law as exception (as command and decisionism, as a matter of will) nullifies impartiality and universality (affirms the mutability of the law and privilege over equality before the law).[88] But it is not only this doctrinal feature of Nietzsche’s philosophy of law that constitutes Nietzsche as an adversary of natural law theory. Rather, his opposition to natural law is evident, too, when he advocates war or “the struggle between power-complexes” (GM II 11)[89] – related to his idea that the origin of the state is coercion and that contracts are imposed – and when he advocates the use of arcana and secrecy in ruling (which the philosophes of the Enlightenment tried to overturn and Frederick II defended).[90] These three features consolidate Nietzsche’s antagonism towards classical natural law, all of which would be anathema to it.

Nietzsche assaults the notion of “international courts” (GM III 25), the politics of human rights or humanization (WP 315 Nachlaß 1887-88 KSA 12 9[173]).[91] In his plan for political organization Nietzsche makes provision for “guardians of the law” although the “most spiritual human beings” are situated above them, using them as their instruments. Nietzsche projects a regime where the law is made unconscious, where an “automatism of instinct” is achieved, in accordance with more comprehensive (or invisible)[92] forms of domination, where “the noble orders... keep the mob under control”, as he admires in the Hindu – Aryo-Vedic – laws of Manu (A 56; 57). His “new nobility” is required “to oppose all mob-rule” (Z III Law-Tables 25). His “law-giving body” is a technocracy (after the Bonapartist manner) of “experts and men of knowledge” who restrict the vote to their own class (AOM 318).
When Nietzsche says he admires autocratic human beings who ‘abhor the law’ (GS 291), he does not mean all law or laws. He means, rather, the natural law that is at the foundation of democratic society. It is part of an overall strategy that Nietzsche subjects the sentiment of pity to a comprehensive psychological and political critique, as this sentiment is fundamental to the democratic theory of Rousseau.

Nietzsche embraces the Hindu law of Manu because it justfies social inequality (or inequality of rights) and order of rank (the division of society into castes). But he condones it, also, because it conceals the actual “utility” of the law or “the reason for it”. The Code of Manu makes the law “unconscious” through the fabrication of a noble (or holy) lie. And because the division of castes is “necessary for the preservation of society”, the noble lie is also necessary to justify it (A 57). What the noble lie does for the law of Manu is make the social order appear as the natural order. As one commentator has succinctly put it, “it allows positive law (Gesetz) to appear as natural and true law (Recht)”.[93] It is clear that the noble lie is “central to Nietzsche’s understanding of proper legal authority”.[94] But the question remains as to why he thinks it is required. Is it simply to counteract the powerful legal fictions of democratic theory? Is it because all philosopher-legislators had used such a technique of domination and he had to emulate them – because there was never a lawgiver who did not resort to the noble lie? Or is it because he agrees with Machiavelli that “the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often even more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are”?[95]
These various political ‘signs’ throughout the Nietzschean corpus are not mirages. Nietzsche, through critique and positive affirmation wants his reader to reflect upon the possibility of a new regime (the reflection upon the past informing a future code). And this new regime, as Nietzsche envisions it, is not thinkable without the instruments of codification, namely, laws, contracts and institutions (how is a revaluation possible without recodification?). The conceptualization is attenuated by its incompleteness, but the conceptualization is recodification in process. When Nietzsche is thinking through ‘Greek’, ‘Roman’, ‘Hindu’ or ‘Renaissance’ politically, he is thinking, for example, the agon (perpetual war or regulated factionalism), empire (durability, grand organization, after the model of the imperium Romanum – this is why Heidegger rejected him), slavery (anti-Kantian, anti-Marxist justifications for exploitation), caste (order of rank), virtù (political leadership) and immoralism (the subordination of morality to politics, dissimulation or perspectivism as political technology) into a unified political conception, a new synthesis.

Nietzsche is a consistent critic of all modern egalitarian ideologies, all the avatars of the Christian movement (BGE 202). Philosophically, he argues for the necessity of exploitation and domination (he denies the democratic concept of ‘no-rule’), a position that puts him radically at odds with Anarchism.[96] He never wavers in his attack on universal suffrage – “through which the lowest natures prescribe themselves as laws for the higher” (WP 862 Nachlaß 1884 KSA 11 25[211]; cf. TI Expeditions 40) – or on the ideals of the French Revolution, its “Rousseauesque morality” (TI Expeditions 48). In terms of his political outlook, Nietzsche may be situated in relation to the aristocratic liberal critique of de Tocqueville, Burckhardt and Taine around the issues of equality, the individual and the state, their critique of the results of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. But Nietzsche radicalizes their position through a Machiavellian or neo-Machiavellian militancy. Machiavelli made Nietzsche militant for reasons other than his style, as Nietzsche adapts and implements Machiavellian virtù (at the operational basis of his ethics) and immoralism (at the operational basis of his political conception), grounded in a reading of The Prince.


Nietzsche seeks the authoritarian potential within democracy,[97] wherein democratic Europe will be treated as a tool or instrument in the formation of a sovereign new order, guided by the tenet that the masses are not suited for philosophy, rather what they need is holiness (CW 3) or religion (Christian, then Dionysian). Nietzsche is certain that future Europeans will be in need of a commander (BGE 242). As a species of this projection and his antecedent war on the masses, he reduces politics to problems of communication, legitimation and control.[98] His political thought is inherently tactical and advises “dissimulation” as a standard of political behavior, the cornerstone of his “tractatus politicus” (WP 304 Nachlaß 1888 KSA 13 11[54]).[99]
In this respect, it is politically significant that Nietzsche admired the Order of Assassins (the 11th-century Ismaili Shi’ite sect) who conspired against the Christian crusaders from the fortress of Alamut. “Nothing is true, everything is permitted” was “their secretum”.[100] Everything was permitted, even dissimulation or concealment; such was the standard Shi’ite practice of taqqiya. Peter Lamborn Wilson writes, “Ismailis could pretend to be Shi’ite or Sunni, which ever was most advantageous... to practice Concealment was to practice the Law; in other words pretending to be orthodox meant obeying the Islamic law.” Only the highest ranks knew this “esoteric truth of perfect freedom.”[101]

The implementation of such a standard explains Nietzsche’s prodemocratic stance between 1878-80, which he adopted (exoterically expressed) merely as a “counterpoise” to socialism.[102] It was not the result of a crisis of conscience, nor was it an exercise in absolute decodification. Rather, it points to something programmatic in Nietzsche’s political conception. In notes from 1885-86, Nietzsche speaks about the philosopher-legislators who will “employ democratic Europe as their most pliant and supple instrument for getting hold of the destinies of the earth” (WP 960 Nachlaß 1885-86 KSA 12 2[57]). And such a vision has implications for present activity, whose responsibility is assumed by the free spirits: “For the present we support the religions and moralities of the herd instinct: for these prepare a type of man that must one day fall into our hands, that must desire our hands... We probably support the development... of democratic institutions: they enhance weakness of will” (WP 132 Nachlaß 1885 KSA 11 35[9]; cf. BGE 242).[103]
This comment indicates that a Nietzschean politics would make provisional concessions to the idea of legitimacy derived from the people; or at least that the problem of political technology is, for Nietzsche, correlative with the problem of legitimation. It also strongly indicates Nietzsche’s convergence with elitist strands in the right wing ideology of 19th and 20th century Europe (exemplified by the individualism and cynicism of the prince – Machiavelli), but with an authoritarian populist current as well (exemplified by the the demagogy of Napoleon). Following Julius Evola on Machiavellianism and Bonapartism, we may detect the fusion of prince and demagogue in this Nietzschean politics and if we take it to be the standpoint of the Übermensch. As Evola writes, with Nietzsche’s notion of the Übermensch “we are still in the domain of forms of individualism and naturalism that are unable to formulate any doctrine of true, legitimate authority.... [so] it bases its domain on a mere technique.”[104] Thus we see in the 19th century, “the emergence of the Bonapartist leader, who is a mixture of a demagogical tribune in a democracy and a Machiavellian figure who is expert in a degrading and cynical technique of power”.[105]

What Nietzsche learns from Machiavelli is that the form of government is only of minimal importance[106] that the “great goal of politics should be permanence” or durability (H 224). This means that certain political ideologies may be used for ends which are antithetical to them. As Nietzsche writes, “shrewd exploitation of the given situation is... our best most advisable course of action” (WP 908 Nachlaß 188 KA 11 25[36]). Nietzschean immoralism comprises the tactical concept that new values will have to “appear in association with the prevailing moral laws, in the guise of their terms and forms”, and that in order for this to happen “many transitional means of deception” will have to be devised (WP 957 Nachlaß 1885 KSA 11 37[8]; cf. BGE 61).[107] This preoccupation with tactics is encoded in the following notebook entry from 1884: “Hohepunkte der Redlichkeit: Machiavelli, der Jesuitismus...” (Nachlaß 1884 KSA 11 25[74]).[108] It should be noted that this entry couples ‘Redlichkeit’ (integrity, honesty, probity) with Machiavellianism and Jesuitism and thus should render problematic Lampert’s judgment that for Nietzsche the pious fraud is finished because of the “youngest virtue, honesty”.[109] The question should be: why does the pious fraud go together with honesty? And Rosen tells us: “honesty compels Nietzsche to reveal his esoteric teaching, to expose it to public view and thus to transform it into an exoteric teaching”.[110] But it is a teaching, nonetheless – that virtue cannot be brought about through virtue. It should not be assumed that such a tactical (or esoteric) doctrine needs to be hidden. We need not be worried about how it is possible to distinguish between Nietzsche’s sincere political doctrine from what in his corpus is mere mask. Le Bon, for example, was quite open about practices of manipulation in his book, The Crowd. He made reference to the masking techniques of Napoleon, quoting him as saying (and it recalls St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians): “It was by becoming a Catholic that I terminated the Vendéen war, by becoming a Mussalman that I obtained a footing in Egypt, by becoming an Ultramontane that I won over the Italian priests, and had I to govern a nation of Jews I would rebuild Solomon’s temple.”[111] Nietzsche, too, is open (public and exoteric) about the necessity of utilizing, for example, Christianity, democracy or socialism as levers of power while actively rejecting them. He elects to maintain the pious fraud (which will appear as pious truth to those subjected to it). It is even axiomatic for the ‘genuine philosophers’ that “all that is and has been becomes a means... an instrument” (BGE 211) for accomplishing their goals; it is a component of the “know-how” or techne required to “reverse perspectives” (EH WW 1). In other words, Nietzsche does not conceal his politics, or his tactical doctrine, they are openly displayed. He does not mask his own heterodoxy in his writings, but recommends esoteric practices to those few who will find his writings accessible, as Nietzsche sifts his readers. “I write in such a way”, he says, “that neither the people, the populi, nor the parties of all kinds can read me” (WS 71). He seeks “the ears of those whose ears are related to ours” (GS 381).

There is not an insignificant amount of evidence in the Nietzschean corpus to suggest that Nietzsche was tactical rather than merely contradictory. Such a standard of political behavior is counselled today,[112] and precisely the kind of tactical behavior Nietzsche prescribes was counselled in previous times (Arcana Imperii, Arcana rei publicae). What Deleuze says about Nietzsche’s method, although he defuses the real element of Nietzschean tactics, Mussolini said about fascism and its eclecticism: “Fascism uses in its construction whatever elements in the Liberal, Socialist or Democratic doctrines still have a living value... it rejects... the conception that there can be any doctrine of unquestioned efficacy for all times and peoples”.[113] And elsewhere, along the same doctrinal lines: “fascists can be aristocrats and democrats, revolutionaries and reactionaries, proletarians and anti-proletarians, pacifists and anti-pacifists”.[114] These remarks are not gratuitous. Scholars of fascism routinely point to the spectral-syncretic or eclectic feature of fascist political philosophy (as even Bataille does in his essay, “The Psychological Structure of Fascism” ).[115] Nietzsche invites us to think this way, and to think about what he means, when he writes of his “delight in masks and the good conscience in using any kind of mask” (GS 77). Such ‘good conscience’ will inform the techniques and tactics of governance of the “philosopher as we understand him, we free spirits” who “will make use of religions” and “whatever political and economic states are at hand” to advance “his project of cultivation and education” (BGE 61). And those ‘political and economic states’ which are ‘at hand’, or victorious, following Nietzsche’s assessment, are democratic ‘political and economic states’. Thus Nietzsche appears to be following the maxim of Napoleon here, that the “true method of government is to employ the aristocracy under the forms of democracy”;[116] or simply advocating the perspectival organization of appearances following the standard “intellectual training” of the prince.[117]

Year 117 on the Nietzschean Calendar

It is difficult to defend the Deleuzian thesis that Nietzsche is engaged in an exercise of ‘absolute decodification’ when, in fact, Nietzsche – through a genealogy of morals and a revaluation of all values – reasserts the instruments of codification, namely, laws, contracts and institutions; takes an administrative stance towards the multitude and reproduces a hybrid template for a ‘state apparatus’; all in the name of a radical “aristokratischen Gesellschaft” (BGE 257). But Deleuze misses something essential in Nietzsche in rebus tacticis and thus obscures Nietzsche’s strategic objectives (and suppresses the problem of state succession).[118] If such ‘absolute decodification’ is merely a species of the Nietzschean doctrine of perspectivism (which cannot be thought without the Nietzschean doctrine of agonism), then it is an error to read this doctrine as appointing a pluralistic optics in any way which would translate into a doctrine of liberal tolerance, since Nietzsche’s agon (specifically, the revaluation of all values) reduces “the realm of tolerance”.[119] But Deleuze, unlike the contemporary radical democratic interpreters of Nietzsche, while he does not depoliticize Nietzsche (given that he is working within the parameters of a political ontology of force whose opponent is the ‘state apparatus’), speaks only of a ‘play of forces’ (or ‘intensities’), he does not step onto that baseless terrain.[120] Still, the total effect of his essay is to strip Nietzsche of his commitments – and his resistance – which, to be precise, were not ‘revolutionary’ but counterrevolutionary (Bonapartist).

The radical democratic readers of Nietzsche often cite Deleuze as a precursor because of Deleuze’s emphasis on ‘process’ in his interpretation of Nietzsche. But the radical democratic reading of Nietzsche differs from the Deleuzian interpretation insofar as it posits a discontinuity between Nietzsche’s politics, which are noted as “distinctly fascist”,[121] and Nietzsche’s philosophy, his doctrines of perspectivism and agonism which are seen as having democratic consequences (forming a sort of textual unconscious); so the radical democratic readers preserve the integrity of Nietzsche’s political conception, even though they want it quarantined. Such a position only obliges a polemicist to demonstrate that the Nietzschean doctrines of perspectivism and agonism, or his theme of continual ‘overcoming’, may be interpreted along, say, generic fascist or protofascist lines in order to defeat their arguments which is not difficult to do, since the radical democratic readers are hardly formidable students of fascist or protofascist political philosophies, where doctrines of perspectivism (as spectral-syncretism, Mussolini, Rocco), agonism (Schmitt, Jünger) and ‘becoming’ (Gentile) may be found. The radical democratic reading is, essentially, a repressive reading which not only eviscerates Nietzsche’s political critique but which closes off any analysis of the relation between liberalism and fascism.

The concepts of Nietzsche’s nomadism or contradictoriness are based on a notion of will to power as ‘endless becoming’ or ‘self-overcoming’; the will to power as “the unexhausted, procreating life-will” (Z Self-Overcoming). This conception of the will to power emphasizes its ‘Dionysian instability’ and ‘protean variability’, not its power of consolidation; not the formation of configurations of domination. The position is not only anti-Hegelian but anti-Heideggerian, since Heidegger interprets the will to power in terms of both ‘preservation’ and ‘enhancement’ (overcoming),[122] whereas Deleuze emphasizes its destructive element. Yet Nietzsche writes: “The standpoint of ‘value’ is the standpoint of conditions of preservation and enhancement for complex forms of relative life-duration within the flux of becoming” (WP 715 Nachlaß 1887-88 KSA 13 11[73]). From an ontological standpoint, Heidegger’s view is more accurate. But in accord with the Deleuzian account, Nietzsche does affirm utter destruction; for example, in his ‘Law Against Christianity’: “The execrable location where Christianity brooded over its basilisk eggs should be razed to the ground and, being the depraved spot on earth, it should be the horror of all posterity. Poisonous snakes should be bred on top of it” (AC ). But he also calls, tactically, for the preservation of his enemy: “A further triumph is our spiritualization of enmity. It consists in profoundly grasping the value of having enemies.... The Church has at all times desired the destruction of its enemies... we immoralists and anti-Christians, see that it is to our advantage that the Church exist....” (TI Morality as Anti-Nature 3).
Because this tactical aspect of Nietzsche’s political thought is not recognized by Deleuze in “Pensée nomade”, it represents, as I said at the outset of this essay, a regressive moment in relation to Deleuze’searlier work on Nietzschewhere the tactical appropriation of forces is conceived as a law of the political ontology of force. In Nietzsche and Philosophy Deleuze clearly recognized the Nietzschean conception that
“a new force can only appear and appropriate an object by first of all putting on the mask of the forces which are already in possession of the object.... A force would not survive if it did not first of all borrow the feature of the forces with which it struggles.”[123]
So why is this aspect of Nietzsche’s political thought absent in “Pensée nomade”? Why do these tactics of resistance vanish?

In Deleuze’searlier work on Nietzsche, Nietzsche was seen as practicing “the art of shifting perspectives”.[124] In other words, Nietzsche had a technique. With “Pensée nomade” technique is no longer at the center, rather ‘intensities’, which brings Deleuze closer to Salomé’s analysis and her reduction of Nietzschean theory to ‘changing pictures of shifting drives’. With the language of ‘intensities’ there is still politics[125] but no centralized power, no force “monarchically directing the energy of memories”,[126] no self-mastery or manipulation, no “genius” (as we find in Nietzsche) imposing “order and choice upon the influx of tasks and impressions” (D 548), no selection as Deleuze’s reading of eternal return once suggested.
In “Pensée nomade” we are presented with “the basis of the power-relationship”– as Nietzsche conceives it – “the warlike clash between forces”,[127] but it is forgotten that Nietzsche also represents a force, a force that is willing to wear the mask of other forces.
As in the body, so in society; and Nietzsche’s ‘cell state’ is ruled by an aristocracy (WP 492 Nachlaß 1885 KSA 11 40[42]). By the time Deleuze writes “Pensée nomade” he has turned to schizoanalysis, so there can be no tactician only a medium. The letters of Nietzsche’s insanity resonate through Deleuze’s characterization of Nietzsche’s method. Instead of Nietzsche’s “every name in history is I”,[128] Deleuze modifies it to read ‘every political force in history is I’. Thus there can be no controlling of history (or memory) for the ‘new nobility’, no longer any art or technique, only ‘molecular’ forces that make it impossible for rulers to rule themselves.


The Anti-Christ [A] (Hollingdale and Norman translations.)
Assorted Opinions and Maxims [AOM] (Hollingdale trans.)
Beyond Good and Evil [BGE] (Kaufmann trans.)
The Birth of Tragedy [BT] (Kaufmann trans.)
The Case of Wagner [CW] (Kaufmann trans.)
Daybreak [D] (Hollingdale trans.)
Ecce Homo [EH] (Kaufmann trans.)
The Gay Science [GS] (Kaufmann trans.)
On the Genealogy of Morals [GM] (Kaufmann trans.)
Human, All Too Human [H] (Hollingdale trans.)
Kritische Studienausgabe (Colli, Montinari) [KSA]
The Wanderer and His Shadow [WS] (Hollingdale trans.)
Thus Spoke Zarathustra [Z] (hollingdale trans.)
Twilight of the Idols [TI] (Hollingdale trans.)
The Will to Power [WP] (Kaufmann, Hollingdale trans.)

[1] See Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), p. 377.
[2] See Gilles Deleuze, “Pensée nomade” (1972), Nietzsche – Aujourd’hui? Centre Culturel International de Cérisy-la-Salle (Paris: Union Générale d’Editions, 1973). My citations of Deleuze are taken from the translation, “Nomad Thought”, The New Nietzsche: Contemporary Styles of Interpretation, ed. David B. Allison (New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1977), pp. 142-49. Some of the critical remarks I make in this essay may be found in my book, Nietzsche’s Machiavellian Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).
[3] Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy (1962), trans. Hugh Tomlinson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983).
[4] Gilles Deleuze, “Nietzsche” (1965), Pure Immanence: Essays on A Life, trans. Anne Boyman (New York: Zone Books, 2001).
[5] Ibid., p. 67.
[6] Keith Ansell-Pearson is one contemporary commentator on Nietzsche who shares this view. See Keith Ansell-Pearson, An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker: The perfect nihilist (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 178.
[7] The willingness to use any political ideology to achieve a political goal.
[8] See Gyorgy Lukács, The Destruction of Reason, trans. Peter Palmer (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1981), pp. 321-23.
[9] See Geoff Waite, “Zarathustra or the Modern Prince: The Problem of Nietzschean Political Philosophy”, Nietzsche Heute, ed. Sigrid Bauschinger et al. (Stuttgart: Francke, 1988), pp. 227-50, and “On Esotericism: Heidegger and/or Cassirer at Davos”, Political Theory, Vol. 26, No. 5, October 1998, pp. 603-51, where Waite discusses “the ancient tradition of exo/esotericism (first openly codified by Machiavelli) wherein falsity, illusion, and ideology are produced and manipulated by some subjects consciously so as to be incorporated by others unconsciously” (609), and refers to Nietzsche as “a Platonist with regard to the double rhetoric and noble lie to secure social cohesion” (620). See, also, Stanley Rosen, The Ancients and the Moderns: Rethinking Modernity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), p. 206, where it is stated, somewhat more delicately than Waite describes, that Nietzsche’s “esoteric teaching is intended to persuade the right persons to facilitate the work of the charmed multitude”. Laurence Lampert also recognizes the importance of esotericism for Nietzsche, but says that Nietzsche only “lays bare [philosophy’s] old esoteric practices” and does not use them (as the pia fraus). See Laurence Lampert, “Nietzsche, The History of Philosophy, and Esotericism”, Nietzsche: Critical Assessments, Vol. IV, ed. Daniel W. Conway with Peter S. Groff (London: Routledge, 1998), pp. 137-47. I differ from Lampert in holding the opinion that Nietzsche did not dismiss the use of such practices or other techniques for the captivation of consent. I prefer the term, “tactics” because it encompasses ‘old esoteric techniques’ while providing space for reflection on new techniques (charted, for example, by the mass pychologists and elite theorists of Nietzsche’s generation and with whom Nietzsche shared a number of political ideals).
[10] Italics mine. Deleuze uses here the verb “affronter” (s’affrontent) which means to face, confront or to encounter (an enemy, for example); so he means it precisely in the sense of opposition.
[11] Deleuze makes no attempt in his essay to identify the structural features of Nietzsche’s philosophy that make it ‘fascist’, ‘bourgeois’ or ‘revolutionary’(considerations on method aside).
[12] See Georges Bataille, “Nietzsche and the Fascists” (1937), Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939, ed. Allan Stoekl, trans. Allan Stoekl, Carl R. Lovitt and Donald M. Leslie, Jr. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), pp. 182-96. Bataille writes, “This interpretation of the ‘political thought’ of Nietzsche, the only one possible, has been remarkably well expressed by Karl Jaspers” (196, n. 31).
[13] Ibid. p. 194.
[14] Ibid. pp. 187-88.
[15] See Karl Jaspers, Nietzsche: An Introduction to the Understanding of His Philosophical Activity, trans. Charles F. Walraff & Frederick J. Schmitz (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1965).
[16] Ernst Behler, Confrontations: Derrida/Heidegger/Nietzsche, trans. Steven Taubeneck (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991), p. 20.
[17] Bataille, “Nietzsche and the Fascists”, p. 184.
[18] See Georges Bataille, “The Psychological Structure of Fascism” (1933-34), Visions of Excess, pp. 137-60.
[19] See Georges Bataille, “The ‘Old Mole’ and the Prefix Sur in the Words Surhomme [Superman] and Surrealist”, Visions of Excess, pp. 32-44, p. 38.
[20] Bataille, “The Psychological Structure of Fascism”, Visions of Excess, p. 159.
[21] Bataille, “The ‘Old Mole’ and the Prefix Sur in the Words Surhomme [Superman] and Surrealist”, Visions of Excess, pp. 36-37.
[22] Bataille writes, “it is impossible to define his work as one of the ideological forms of the dominant class”. Ibid.
[23] Roger Griffen writes that “the ‘revolutionary’ process [was] central to [fascism’s] core myth”. Roger Griffen, The Nature of Fascism (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 39.
[24] These features are accessible through his antiliberal and antidemocratic diatribes and the palingenetic myth (of the return of the repressed) at the center of his philosophy. Nietzsche’s philosophy (‘aristocratic radicalism’) may be seen to converge with the elitist strain which fed into fascism.
[25] See, for example, Daybreak 174 and Twilight of the Idols, Expeditions of an Untimely Man 38. Alfred Bäumler, a ‘Nazi’ reader of Nietzsche, characterizes Nietzsche as antibourgeois. See Alfred Bäumler, Studien zur deutschen Geistesgeschichte (Berlin: Junker und Duennhaupt Verlag, 1937).
[26] See, for example, Human, All Too Human 452, and on the worker, Daybreak 206, The Anti-Christ 57 and Twilight of the Idols, Expeditions of an Untimely Man 40. In section 452 of Human, All Too Human entitled, Property and justice, Nietzsche writes, “What is needed is not a forcible redistribution but a gradual transformation of mind”. See, also, WP 125 Nachlaß 1885 KSA 11 37[11]. See, also, Nietzsche’s remark that marriage should be based on “the drive to own property” (TI Expeditions of an Untimely Man 39).
[27] Nicos Poulantzas, Fascism and Dictatorship: The Third International and the Problem of Fascism, trans. Judith White (London: Verso Editions, 1979), pp. 152-53.
[28] Ibid. p. 252.
[29] On this point, see Jeffrey Herf, Reactionary Modernism: Technology, culture, and politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 90-91. On the value of security, Herf quotes from Jünger’s, Der Arbeiter: “The Bürger as a type strove for security above all else and tried to seal life from the ‘intrusion of the elementary’”, p. 102. The Italian fascist, Julius Evola, states that “Fascism adopted an antibourgeois stance” but that elements within it “remained bourgeois”. See Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins: Postwar Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, trans. Guido Stucco, ed. Michael Moynihan (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2002), p. 220.
[30] See Mihaly Vajda, “Fascism and Bonapartism”, in Fascism as a Mass Movement (London: Allison & Busby, 1976), pp. 93-104.
[31] In this respect, Nietzsche realizes, as Gramsci did later, that the ruling class does not maintain its power through coercion alone but through cultural hegemony. Accordingly, Nietzsche understands social revolution in terms of a ‘war of spirits’ (Geisterkrieg).
[32] The Prussian newspaper, the Nationalzeitung understood Nietzsche’s, Beyond Good and Evil “as the real and genuine Junker philosophy” (EH WGB 1). Even if we take Nietzsche to be strictly antibourgeois and explain his affirmation of property as an expression of support for the Junker class (Prussian aristocratic landowners), then there is still no necessary contradiction (eg. Franz von Papen).
[33] Jaspers, Nietzsche: An Introduction to the Understanding of His Philosophical Activity, p. 454.
[34] Ibid., p. 455.
[35] Ibid., p. 453.
[36] Ibid., p. 418.
[37] Ibid., p. 448.
[38] Ibid., p. 444.
[39] Ibid., p. 417.
[40] Ibid., p. 444.
[41] Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), p. 9.
[42] Ibid., p. 17.
[43] Ibid., pp. 11-12. As Foucault recognizes, Deleuze’s “aim was not reconciliation”. Michel Foucault, “Theatrum Philosophicum”, Language, Counter Memory, Practice, ed. Donald F. Bouchard, trans. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 180.
[44] Ibid., pp. 174-75.
[45] Ibid., p. 176.
[46] Ibid., p. 161.
[47] Michael Hardt, Gilles Deleuze: An Apprenticeship in Philosophy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), pp. 115-16.
[48] Ibid., p. 52.
[49] See Lou Salomé, Nietzsche, trans. Siegfried Mandel (Connecticut: Black Swan Books, 1988).
[50] Ibid., p. 5.
[51] Ibid., p. 15.
[52] Ibid., p. 16.
[53] Ibid., p. 23.
[54] Ibid., p. 29.
[55] Ibid., p. 23.
[56] All descriptions of the will to power, however, may suitably inform Deleuze’s descriptive terms. For instance, the will to power “incorporates and subdues more and more” of that which is external (WP 681 Nachlaß 1883-88 KSA 12 7[9]).
[57] Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, p. 17.
[58] At least at this point, for further on in Nietzsche and Philosophy Deleuze understands that Nietzsche’s “philosopher-legislator... determines rank”(75) and that selection means hierarchy and relations of superiority (71, 60). For Deleuze, Nietzsche’s concept of the will to power is not detached from domination; it does not preclude that one force is being dominated by another and that this is what determines order of rank (51-53).
[59] Deleuze does not refer to what Nietzsche says about aphorisms, and his use of them, or to what Nietzsche says about style. In Human, All Too Human, Nietzsche says that the aphorism (or aphoristic form) has not been taken seriously enough (H 35; 37). He repeats this point in his Preface to On the Genealogy of Morals, adding that the aphorism requires an “art of exegesis” (GM P 8). In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche declares that he is “the first master among Germans” in the art of the aphorism. Explaining why he chooses to write in this form, he says that his “ambition is to say in ten sentences what everyone else says in a book” (TI Expeditions 51). This ‘ambition’ is reconfigured as “a very serious ambition for Roman style, for the ‘aera perennius’ in style”. This style – or grand style – would consist of a “minimum in the range and number of signs” which would achieve “a maximum of energy of these signs” (TI Ancients 1). What Nietzsche admires in writing is realism (Thucydides, Machiavelli [TI Ancients 2]), and quickness of tempo – allegrissimo – exemplified by Machiavelli’s, The Prince, where “dangerous thoughts” are presented in the “tempo of a gallop” (BGE 28). If Nietzsche implements “style as politics”, as Deleuze says he does, then perhaps his politics, following his stylistic preferences, and by simple transposition, are Machiavellian.
[60] Bataille refers to the reading of Lukács (that makes Nietzsche an ‘ancestor of fascism’) in a section of his essay, “Nietzsche and the Fascists”, called ‘Remarks for Asses’. There he writes, against Lukács (who is undoubtedly the Ass), that “Fascism and Nietzscheanism are mutually exclusive”. See “Nietzsche and the Fascists”, Visions of Excess, p. 185.
[61] Lukács, The Destruction of Reason, pp. 321, 371.
[62] See Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, ed. Colin Gordon, trans. Colin Gordon, Leo Marshall, John Mepham, Kate Soper (Brighton: The Harvester Press, 1980).
[63] The fascist reading is an “illegitimate” misinterpretation as opposed to a “legitimate” misinterpretation, as Deleuze says, if only because the entire fascist-nonfascist debate about Nietzsche “is no longer worthwhile”. However, contrast this with Foucault’s remark that the “nonanalysis of fascism is one of the most important political facts of the last thirty years”. Michel Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended”: Lectures at the College de France 1975-1976, trans. David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003), p. 275
[64] Lukács, The Destruction of Reason, p. 324.
[65] We must admit that Nietzsche’s social and political philosophy does exhibit a certain consistency from his early essay, the Greek State (anti-enlightenment) to the letters of his insanity (aristocratic revolution) where we find phantasms of conspiratorial convocations of princes in Rome, executions, papal intrigue and intra-aristocratic warfare.
[66] Ibid., p. 321.
[67] See, for example, Nietzsche’s reference to the “tactics and organization” of the Jesuits (H 55) and to the “secrets” of St. Paul and Calvin (D 113). Nietzsche’s reflections on methods of social control may be found throughout his corpus. They are informed, most visibly, by readings of Plato’s Republic – the ‘noble lie’ at the foundation of the Platonic state – of the Hindu Laws of Manu, and of Machiavelli’s The Prince, which mediates his reflections upon ‘immoralism’ and the ‘art of dissimulation’.
[68] Jaspers, Nietzsche: An Introduction to the Understanding of His Philosophical Activity, pp. 252-53. It may be interesting to note here that Jaspers makes an analogous error in reading Kierkegaard, connecting Kierkegaard’s ‘indirect communication’ to “no fixed doctrine” (Kierkegaard and Nietzsche “had no political program for reform, no program at all”). But, in fact, and contrary to Jaspers’ view, Kierkegaard speaks of his ‘indirect communication’as a ‘tactic’ of conversion in the interests of a “new military science”. See Karl Jaspers, Reason and Existenz, trans. William Earle (New York: Noonday Press, 1955), pp. 25-30, and Søren Kierkegaard, The Point of View For My Work As An Author, trans. Walter Lowrie (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), p. 38.
[69] In harmony with these grand politics, for example, is Nietzsche’s recognition of the necessity of the Bonapartist manipulation of the priesthood for legitimation purposes (HH 472) – i.e. the Concordat of 1801. E. A Rees makes the following comment about Nietzsche which supports the view I am adopting here: “Whilst Dostoevskii believed that the challenge posed by revolutionary Machiavellism could be found in a rediscovery of Christian values, Nietzsche believed it could only be met by the adoption of the same tactics by the enemies of socialism”. E. A. Rees, Political Thought from Machiavelli to Stalin: Revolutionary Machiavellism (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p. 89.
[70] Cf. Plato, The Republic, trans. Desmond Lee (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1981), Part Seven [Book Five], p. 263.
[71] As early as 1878, Nietzsche speaks of the “good Europeans” whose “great task” will be “the direction and supervision of the total culture of the earth” which by Daybreak entertains colonial expansion (WS 87). It is no objection to say that the “good Europeans” cannot be imperialist because they are not racist (because they advocate racial intermixing) or because they are not nationalist. Nationalism and racism are not necessary components of imperialism or Empire.
[72] As Nietzsche records, “I sought in history the beginning of the construction of reverse ideals (the concepts ‘pagan’, ‘classical’, ‘noble’, newly discovered and expounded –)” (WP 1041 Nachlaß 1888 KSA 10 16[32]). See, also, The Case of Wagner, Epilogue.
[73] Conforming to the absolutist tradition of political philosophy, Nietzsche objectifies the multitude, makes of them, to borrow a phrase from Negri, the “object of anguished interrogations”, calling them Pöbel (see, for example, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Of the Higher Man 19 and Beyond Good and Evil 287) or canaille (see, for example, Twilight of the Idols, Expeditions of an Untimely Man 34), or referring to Pöbelherrschaft (see, for example, Beyond Good and Evil 287). See Antonio Negri, Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State, trans. Maurizia Boscagli (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), p. 324.
[74] See Twilight of the Idols, Expeditions 40, and On the Future of Our Educational Institutions.
[75] Nietzsche favors a pre-industrialized mode of work. He calls “industrial culture... the most vulgar form of existence that has yet existed.” (GS 40 ). He favors the culture of the artisan (WS 288); the worker who operates in his discrete sector with his “specialization” (AC 57). He disparages the capitalist “workforce” (D 206) and does not believe that the worker will be liberated from his ‘slavery’ by higher wages or mechanical production. He blames socialism for making the worker unhappy with his “function” (AC 57). All social labor, according to Nietzsche, should be organized and coordinated such that it contributes to the creation of a ‘higher culture’.
[76] It is based upon the Laws of Manu, the earliest known Dharma Sastras. They are a code of laws which provide a quasi-legal justification of a caste system.
[77] Which is not to say that Nietzsche is strictly Hobbesian. Nietzsche rejects the limits of [classical] natural law and morality, and any notion of justice rooted in self-preservation or security.
[78] Nietzsche’s interpretation of Spinoza was largely based on his reading of Kuno Fischer.
[79] Just to be clear on the distinction, I will cite Ernst Bloch: “positive law theories hold that no element of law preexists an act of the state... natural law is based upon invariant fundamental principles that provide norms for justice”. Ernst Bloch, Natural Law and Human Dignity, trans. Dennis J. Schmitt (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1996), pp. xiv-xv. Bloch claims that Nietzsche recognized only positive law and techniques of domination. He adds that the “formal technique of this law was taught by Machiavelli. And the fascists, in an even more affirmative manner than in Nietzsche, deduced the positive law of the times from no other basis than power” (182). Under Fascism, there existed a “complete absence of juridical guarantees and the unlimited flexibility of... law” (141). Fascism promulgated “numerous special laws that bore traits of privilege” (149). C. J. Friedrich writes, “positivism has entertained the view that it is possible to base the law upon an act of will alone”. Carl Joachim Friedrich The Philosophy of Law in Historical Perspective (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), p. 201.
[80] Rudolf von Ihering (1818-1892). Josef Kohler (1849-1919). Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803). Barthold Georg Niebuhr (1776-1831). Friedrich Carl von Savigny (1779-1861). Friedrich Eichhorn (1781-1854). Nietzsche had books by von Ihering and Kohler in his library. On von Ihering’s influence on Nietzsche’s legal thinking see, Keith Ansell-Pearson, Nietzsche contra Rousseau: A Study of Nietzsche’s Moral and Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 135-36.
[81] Heinrich von Treitschke, Politics, ed. Hans Kohn (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. 1963), p. xx.
[82] Ibid., pp. 4-5.
[83] Ibid., p. 81.
[84] Kohler said of Nietzsche that he was “One of the first... to recognize the value of the science of comparative law”, and exclaimed that the “The Philosophy of Law [had] been much furthered, thanks to the great mind of Nietzsche”. Josef Kohler, Philosophy of Law, trans. Adalbert Albrecht (New York: Augustus M. Kelly Publishers, 1969), pp. 11 and 27. Nietzsche had three titles in his library by Kohler: Das Recht als Kulturerscheinung (1885); Zur Lehre von der Blutrache (1885); and Das chinesische Strafrecht (1886).
[85] Ibid., pp. 93, 145 and 208. In Daybreak , justifying such inevitable erosion, Nietzsche writes: “If our power appears to be deeply shaken and broken, our rights cease to exist; conversely, if we have grown very much more powerful, the rights of others... cease to exist for us.” (112).
[86] What Nietzsche says in this passage is that “legal conditions can never be other than exceptional conditions, since they constitute a partial restriction of the will of life”. But what he means is that ‘legal conditions’ should reflect the will of life “which is bent upon power”. This is why he says that ‘legal conditions’ are “subordinate” to the ‘will of life’. Thus he opposes a “legal order” which constitutes itself “as a means of preventing all struggle in general” and establishes the primacy of the political.
[87] See Carl Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, trans. Ellen Kennedy (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1985), p. 43. See, also, Carl Schmitt, Political Theology, trans George Schwab (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985). As Nietzsche writes, “A society that preserves a regard... for freedom must feel itself to be an exception and must confront a power from which it distinguishes itself, toward which it is hostile, and on which it looks down’ (WP 936 Nachlaß 1887-88 KSA 13 11[140]). Not only does Nietzsche share Schmitt’s notion of the sovereign here but, also, Schmitt’s criterion of politics: the distinction between ‘friend and enemy’.
[88] Anthony Carty comments on Nietzsche’s repudiation of “universality and impartiality in the application of rules”. See Anthony Carty, “Nietzsche and Socrates/or the Spirit of the Devil and the Law”. Cardozo Law Review: Nietzsche and Legal Theory, Vol. 24, No. 2, Jan. 2003, pp. 621-34.
[89] As Nietzsche writes, “A legal order thought of as sovereign and universal, not as a means in the struggle between power-complexes but as a means of preventing all struggle in general – perhaps after the communistic cliché of Dühring, that every will must consider every other will its equal – would be a principle hostile to life, an agent of the dissolution and destruction of man, an attempt to assassinate the future of man, a sign of weariness, a secret path to nothingness” (GM II 11).
[90] The theory of state secrets some see as originating with Machiavelli. Regarding Machiavelli, Ernst Bloch writes, “The principal tricks of arcana are certain organizations that give the appearance of freedom in order to pacify the people, ‘simulacra libertatis’”. Bloch, Natural Law and Human Dignity, p. 273.
[91] I think Nietzsche would have agreed with Gabriele D’Annunzio’s comment that “High rhetorical sermonizing in the name of brotherhood under a common Sun is merely a strategem to cover over the noise of the weapons factories.” See “The Beast Who Wills” (1892), Stanford Italian Review,Vol. 6, 1-2, 1986, pp. 265-77.
[92] It is entirely appropriate that Leo Strauss refers to Nietzsche’s new rulers as “the invisible spiritual rulers of a united Europe” (italics mine). See Leo Strauss, Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), pp. 174-91.
[93] See Roger Berkowitz, “Friedrich Nietzsche, The Code of Manu, and The Art of Legislation”, Cardozo Law Review: Nietzsche and Legal Theory, Vol. 24, No. 2, Jan. 2003, pp. 1131-1149, p. 1137. For similar comments on this maneuver in Nietzsche, see Lukács, The Destruction of Reason, p. 375; Rosen, The Ancients and the Moderns, p. 195; Ansell-Pearson, An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker, p. 41. Ernst Bloch observes that, for Nietzsche, positive law “is a matter of the will to eternalize a momentary relation of power”. Bloch, Natural Law and Human Dignity, p. 182.
[94] Ibid., p. 1137.
[95] Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius (New York: Random House, Inc., 1950), ch. xxv, p. 182.
[96] See Bakunin’s comments against those who argue for the necessity of exploitation. Michael Bakunin, God and the State (New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1970).
[97] Given Nietzsche’s rejection of parliamentary constitutions (BGE 199), it is not surprising that he approved in an early Germania club paper (Napoleon III als Präsident, 1862) of the coup d’état of Louis Bonaparte in 1851 which, as Marx put it, ‘annihilated’ parliament and overturned the French constitution. Later in life, Nietzsche prided himself on reading only one newspaper: the ultraconservative Journal des Debats, principle organ of the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie in France. Nietzsche: “I myself read, if I may say so, only the Journal des Debats” (EH WGB 1). See, also, Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (New York: International Publishers, 1963).
[98] Which may be gleaned from the following quotations: “... at bottom the masses are willing to submit to slavery of any kind, if only the higher-ups constantly legitimize themselves as born to command” (GS 40); and, “... perfecting consists in the production of the most powerful individuals, who will use the great mass of people as their tools” (WP 660 Nachlaß 1885-86 KSA 12 2[66).
[99] For additional discussion on this point, see Geoff Waite on Machiavellian and Jesuitical concealment in Nietzsche’s political philosophy. Waite, “Zarathustra or the Modern Prince”, p. 236.
[100] At length Nietzsche writes, “When the Christian crusaders in the Orient encountered the invincible order of Assassins, that order of free spirits par excellence, whose lowest followed a rule of obedience the like of which no order of monks ever attained, they obtained in some way or other a hint concerning that symbol and watchword reserved for the highest ranks alone as their secretum: ‘Nothing is true, everything is permitted.’ – Very well, that was freedom of spirit; in that way the faith in truth itself was abrogated.’” (GM III 24).
[101] See Peter Lamborn Wilson, Scandal: Essays in Islamic Heresy (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1988).
[102] As Lukács correctly points out. Lukács, The Destruction of Reason, p. 180.
[103] Here Nietzsche recommends the ‘mask of orthodox opinions’ (or pious fraud) that Lampert claims he dismisses. See Lampert, “Nietzsche, The History of Philosophy, and Esotericism”, p. 146.
[104] Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins, pp. 160-61. Camus is also inclined to note the “provisional, methodical – in a word, strategic – character of [Nietzsche’s] thought”. Albert Camus, The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt (New York: Vintage Books, 1956), p. 65.
[105] Ibid., p. 163. According to Evola, in a state of decadence this is the norm: “There is only a variety of techniques, of means (far from being reducible to sheer physical force), tending to make one human class or another prevail”. Julius Evola, Ride the Tiger: A Survival Manual for the Aristocrats of the Soul, trans. Joscelyn Godwin and Constance Fontana (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2003), p. 39.
[106] Nietzsche’s assertion in this passage from Human, All Too Human recalls a remark of D’Alembert’s to Frederick II: “I think that the form of government is unimportant in itself”. See Ronald Grimsley, Jean D’Alembert (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963).
[107] Nietzsche follows Machiavelli in this recommendation: “He who desires... to reform the government of a state... must at least retain the semblance of the old forms; so that it may seem to the people that there has been no change in the institutions, even though in fact they are entirely different from the old ones.” Discourses, ch. xxv, p. 182.
[108] Italics mine. See, also, Nachlaß 1881 KSA 9 11[221]: “our true essence must remain concealed, just like the Jesuits”. Translated and quoted by Waite, “Zarathustra and the Modern Prince”. This remark appears to affirm the implementation of secret policy.
[109] Lampert, “Nietzsche, The History of Philosophy, and Esotericism”, p. 146.
[110] Rosen, The Ancients and the Moderns, p. 199. Rosen adds, “even Plato reveals that the so-called just city is founded upon a noble lie, in contrast to the lie in the soul”. Plato’s legislation uses persuasion and ‘convenient stories’.
[111] Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (London: Ernest Benn, Ltd., 1952), p. 69. See, also, Stendhal’s report: “‘You can have no idea’ he told Lord Ebrington, ‘of what I gained in Egypt through pretending to adopt their religion’”. Stendhal, A Life of Napoleon (New York: Howard Fertig, 1977), pp. 27-28.
[112] See, for example, Robert Cooper, “The New Imperialism”, The Guardian, April 6, 2002. Robert Cooper is a senior British diplomat who advises the use of deception in foreign policy relations with what he calls ‘premodern’ or ‘modern’ states.
[113] Benito Mussolini, The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism, trans. Jane Soames (London: The Hogarth Press, 1933), p. 19.
[114] From “Relativism and Fascism”, quoted in Mark Neocleous, Fascism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), p. 50. Alfredo Rocco makes similar comments in “The Political Doctrine of Fascism” in Communism, Fascism, And Democracy: The Theoretical Foundations, ed. Carl Cohen (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1997), p. 283. Italian fascism operated with the facade of constitutionality and religiosity (through the Lateran Pacts of 1929). Machiavelli also teaches spectral-syncretism in The Prince (cf. chs. xviii & xxv).
[115] See, for example, James A. Gregor, The Ideology of Fascism: The Rationale of Totalitarianism (New York: The Free Press, 1969), p. 197.
[116] See Gustave Le Bon, The French Revolution and the Psychology of Revolution (New Brunswick: Transaction Inc., 1980), p. 295.
[117] Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. George Bull (London: Penguin Books, 2003), ch. xiv, p. 49.
The perspectival art of governance Nietzsche proposes will use religious, economic and political institutions for purposes other than those they were designed for (e.g. Bonapartist autocratic will in the guise of popular rule – he will not unmask ideology). The Nietzschean ruling class is reconstructively envisioned as possessing an “unconstrained view” as opposed to the multitude, who are envisioned as having need only of “external regulation” (A 54), conceptualized beyond the use of the “cruder instruments of force” (GS 358).
[118] Deleuze, it is likely, extrapolates Nietzsche’s ‘method’ from Nietzsche’s description of the activity of the free spirits. My reading is made or broken on the axis of this description; it hinges upon how the capacities of the free spirits are read: do they move between various interpretations simply to contradict or do they (tactically) move between various interpretations in order to control factions?
[119] Letter to Paul Deussen, 1888. The Selected Letters of Friedrich Nietzsche, ed. Christopher Middleton (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), p. 311.
[120] The main tributaries of this reading are, aside from Schrift listed above, Tracy Strong, “Texts and Pretexts: Reflections on Perspectivism in Nietzsche”, Political Theory 13(2), May 1985, pp. 164-82; Mark Warren, Nietzsche and Political Thought (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1988); William Connolly, Political Theory and Modernity (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993); Lawrence J. Hatab, A Nietzschean Defense of Democracy: An Experiment in Postmodern Politics (Chicago: Open Court, 1995).
[121] See Warren, Nietzsche and Political Thought, p. 211.
[122] See Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche: The Will to Power as Knowledge and as Metaphysics, Vol. III, trans. Joan Stambaugh, David Farrell Krell, Frank A. Capuzzi (San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1987), pp. 199, 211.
[123] Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, p. 5. See, also, “Nietzsche”, Pure Immanence, p. 67, where Deleuze writes: “We must think of philosophy as a force. But the law of forces as such that they can only appear when concealed by the mask of preexisting forces”.
[124] Deleuze, “Nietzsche”, Pure Immanence, p. 64.
[125] For Deleuze writes, “There is politics as soon as there is a continuum of intensities”. See Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, Dialogues, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), p. 111.
[126] I borrow this phrase from Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (New York: Zone Books, 1995), p. 76.
[127] See Foucault on Nietzsche’s power hypothesis. Foucault,“Society Must Be Defended”, p.16.This is also Nietzsche’s pagan conception of history which “reflects an eternal series of unstable balances and conflicts limited in time. It is an eternal tension governed by the heterogeneous and antagonistic nature of the different forces in play”. See Alain de Benoist, On Being a Pagan, trans. John Graham, ed. Greg Johnson (Atlanta: ULTRA 2004), p. 68.
[128] Letter to Jakob Burckhardt, 1889. The Selected Letters of Friedrich Nietzsche, ed. Middleton, p. 347.

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