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New Left Review 31, January-February 2005


Peter Thomas on Domenico Losurdo, Nietzsche, il ribelle aristocratico and Jan Rehmann, Postmoderner Links-Nietzscheanismus. Two deconstructions of contemporary treatments of Nietzsche, restoring the virulence of his thought to its nineteenth-century contexts.

PETER THOMAS

OVER-MAN AND THE COMMUNE

Few thinkers have enjoyed such widespread appeal over the last forty years as Nietzsche. The instrumentalization of the Nazi period seemingly left behind—Lukács’s dissenting voice notwithstanding—Nietzsche’s almost Heraclitean metaphors and images, visceral incarnations of some mythological wisdom which always seems to be in excess of itself, have fascinated theorists from the whole range of the political spectrum. For some, such as Kaufmann and Rorty, Nietzsche dissolved philosophy into an aesthetic play and a relativism entirely in accord with, but lying beyond, the values of the liberal democracies. For others—in the so-called ‘New Nietzsche’ emerging from post-war France—his critique of the overweening pretensions of the western philosophical tradition seemed to offer the possibility to begin philosophy again, as a post-philosophy. While this current of interpretation was not too shy to appropriate some of Nietzsche’s concepts for a radical critique of contemporary bourgeois society—one thinks in the first instance of Foucault, Derrida and Deleuze—its presupposition was that Nietzsche himself was an essentially apolitical philosopher, an innocent victim of right-wing distortion whose ‘indeterminacy’ permitted an attempt to expropriate him for the Left.

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