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On the Misery of Left Nietzscheanism, or Philosophy as Irrationalist Ideology

Caricature of Nietzsche (2007)

By Stéphane Lemarchand Caricaturiste ; eldonisto Eugenio Hansen, OFS - , CC BY-SA 4.0, Link.

Matthew Sharpe teaches philosophy at Australian Catholic University and is the author of The Other Enlightenment: Self-estrangement, Race, and Gender (Rowman & Littlefield, 2023).

This article is an extended treatment of Aymeric Monville’s Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche: de George Bataille à Michel Onfray (Brussels: Éditions Aden, 2007)

Even if there really were no fire, only smoke, in Friedrich Nietzsche’s pre-1945 trans-Atlantic fascist reception, the story of his postwar reception on “the Left” would still be a story well worth telling. Indeed, it would in that case be all the more worthy of recounting. For the great political distances that the German philosopher of the Second Reich’s oeuvre has traveled since around 1950, from hero of the international far right to an icon of the non-Marxian, “gauchist” left would then also be a salvific odyssey: a sort of homecoming from the dark valleys of error to the open fields of truth (presuming truth is not just another metaphor). The story of Nietzsche’s reemergence after 1960 as an icon of the intellectual world of broadly New Left “theory”—what Aymeric Monville calls “the moral Left” or “gauchism”—has, however, largely remained untold up until now.1 Certainly, this is largely the case in the English language. Nietzscheanism perhaps remains too “constitutive” for many humanities scholars to yet allow for the requisite distance to stand back and critically assess, rather than simply seeing the world through its lens. They remain “inside” Nietzscheanism, as Georges Bataille recommended long ago.2 For some time, Nietzsche has no longer been à la mode, but as Monville starts his book, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, by saying: “he is the mode.”3 This holds not simply for refined circles of scholars, but in the ironic massification of Nietzschean values of becoming, difference, creativity, the aestheticization of life, and more in the consumerist and managerial culture of later capitalism.4

Given the predominance of what could be called “cultural Nietzscheanism”—a predominance which today unites Foucauldians with the followers of Jordan Peterson—Monville’s 2007 work represents a provocative honoring of what Left Nietzscheans might call “the will to difference.” Monville’s book traces the specifically French history of twentieth-century Nietzschean reception, from the far right to the New Left. It starts with the pre- and interwar years during which the German thinker was celebrated by the ultranationalist right wing of the Action française.5 We proceed chronologically via the postwar moment, in which Nietzsche was rehabilitated by Maurice Blanchot, Bataille, and Albert Camus, then celebrated by heroes of the poststructuralist generation such as Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, to arrive at contemporary French figures, such as Michel Onfray and Philippe Sollers.6 Nevertheless, given the global reception of “French theory” in literature, cultural studies, and philosophical academic circles since the late 1970s, Monville’s study has international relevance, which makes its lack of translation to date into English all the more unfortunate.

Monville’s critique is written from an avowedly Marxian perspective, which may go some way in explaining this reception, given the opposition that Left Nietzscheanism poses to the older or “socialist” Left, predating the libertarian turn of the 1960s and ’70s. Monville is the French translator of Georg Lukács’s classic work on the intellectual antecedents of fascism, The Destruction of Reason. The latter’s depiction of Nietzsche as a father of imperialist-era “irrationalism,” Misère rightly notes, has always been among the first targets of Left Nietzscheanism, or nietzchéisme de gauche, starting with Blanchot and Bataille.7 Indeed, dismissing Lukács—usually without having read him—is almost a price of entry into the “new Nietzscheanism,” as it was called in the 1970s for a time.8 Monville, by contrast, continues the Lukácsian project of resuscitating the “untimely” thinker in his own sociopolitical times. But he carries this mode of critical, historical-materialist reading through to the differing receptions of Nietzsche in France across the twentieth century. The work is carried out, therefore, under the aegis of the critique of ideology.

Monville proposes to read the texts of celebrated figures of the French high intelligentsia as not above their times, or outside of them. Indeed, he contends that their intellectual ascendancy in many fields has served a particular, and especially reactionary, political function: that of undermining the possibility of collective action against dominant political-economic powers by redirecting readers’ dissatisfaction against the continuing problems of liberal-capitalism into forms of personal self-transformation, discrediting the modern postulate of the basic equality of all human beings underlying forms of democratic will formation, and destroying the credibility of any ideas of historical progress founded on reason and scientific culture.9

In place of the republican—and then socialist—triumvirate of the “ideas of 1789” (liberty, equality, and fraternity), Monville controversially argues, the ascent of Nietzscheanism has instead elevated the following thematics, which uncannily unite the far right with “the moral Left”:

  • “Depreciation of understanding and reason, the primacy of the emotional and intuitive over the rational, the struggle against causal and systematic thought (judged “flat” or “repressive”!);
  • Differentialism and ethnicist interpretations of social phenomena (notably in geopolitics);
  • The abandonment of knowledge of real relations, recourse to myth, the involuntary survival of theological references;
  • Dandyism and pseudo-aristocratism, flight into “sublime, definitely sublime” subjectivity, systematic bowing down before literary references (a taste for writing “in fragments” that one cites as arguments from authority);
  • A reduction of knowledge to technical utility (pragmatism).”10

These thematics will hardly be denied by Left Nietzscheans within the academy. What makes Monville’s work so different from the myriad works of such commentators is he that asks us to consider these Nietzschean thematics as being other than cyphers of sociopolitical liberation. We are invited instead to see them as ideological talking points and mystifications of the new bourgeoisie of the “liberal-libertarian society” (to use Michel Clouscard’s term). This is the form of capitalism, which emerged from the 1960s—including from the famous ’68 rebellions—in a period of abundance, but which is now reeling ever further into systemic crises that are giving birth, at an ever-accelerating pace, to new forms of authoritarianism or fascism.11 Monville hence tells us that his little book has not one, but two critical targets: on the one hand, “the moral Left” of “Left Nietzscheanism” and, on the other hand, the resurgent far right, in whose “thought leaders” we know that recourse to Nietzsche plays an indispensable role, as it had done in the interwar years, and not simply among the German National Socialists.12

The largest interpretive question that surrounds Nietzsche, once we note his extraordinary reception, is: how could his oeuvre have been appropriated by so many different political groups, “the gauchists, the nazis, the anarchists, the neofascists, the intellectuals of the Left,” as well as boosters of a united Europe, even of a liberal (or neoliberal) stripe?13 The third chapter of Monville’s work, an “Interlude in the Form of a Florilegia,” presents the Nietzschean textual evidence that will continue to strike unexpecting readers in the face, and which explains very simply, from out of Nietzsche’s own mouth, his ample attractions for far rightists. This includes remarks hostile to “Eastern” and “poor Jews” and the eugenic project of Beyond Good and Evil of “breeding” beautiful Jewish girls with the Prussian officer class (so as to introduce financial skills to the latter).14 There are passages advocating the restoration of slavery in a new aristocratic order promoting “helping” the “botched and the bungled” to “perish” according to a new, anti-Christian form of “charity” (which would also deny the “right to life” to the “sick”). Other passages attack the idea of any “good” that would run counter to “the law of selection.”15 His works include passages evocative of today’s “post-truth” morass and its cynical exploiters (“The falseness of an opinion is not for us any objection to it: it is here, perhaps, that our new language sounds most strange. The question is, how far an opinion is life-furthering, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps species-rearing”), denying that claims to truth amount to anything more than motivated “illusions” and power-claims, and even declaring that writing and thinking are jeopardized to the extent that, in modern societies, everyone can claim a right to learn to read.16 As Monville comments, for all that generations of students have been promised by the new Nietzscheans that there is nothing to see in regard to Nietzsche and the far right, it takes a great deal of interpretive ingenuity and political-historical naivety not to see the direct links between these ideas and those of fascists.17

How, then, could postwar Left Nietzscheanism emerge and manage so successfully to recast the philosopher admired by Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, and many other fascist chieftains and intellectuals, as an icon of “gauchist” New Left counterculture?

First of all, there has been a manifold effort, at the level of hermeneutics, to lift Nietzsche out of an historical and political orbit where his writings could be assessed according to the standards against which other authors are read, and which would allow critical evaluations of what in his oeuvre continually animates readers on the far right. Far from asking us to read Nietzsche more closely to ensure misunderstandings are not produced, Left Nietzscheans encourage us instead to denounce Nietzsche’s political critics—precisely to the extent that they insist upon quoting such passages (and there are very many of them) from his works.18 As Monville documents, there are perhaps four kinds of defensive, quarantining moves here that can be interchanged and which complement each other.

First, as in Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Colli, there is the claim that Nietzsche’s texts contain everything, including statements that might be adopted by the far left as well as the far right.19 The implication is that any discrete, “decidable” reading of Nietzsche’s texts, in particular on political subjects, must be false, one-sided, and facile. As Monville notes, this “obscurantist” move nevertheless faces some basic limitations, which its advocates pass over. Nietzsche never advocated in favor of democracy, socialism, or for the abolition of slavery, for instance, though he said things openly hostile to each of these modern political projects.20

Second, as per the famous words of Foucault, we are invited to treat Nietzsche’s texts as “tools” to do with whatever we will, even by making them “groan,” and then laugh in the face of “commentators” who might point out issues of inaccuracy with the resulting readings of Nietzsche.21 Once our admiration for this masterly disdain for basic hermeneutic norms passes, however, the prospects of such a strange form of “fidelity” to Nietzsche are very paradoxical. Why, then, invoke Nietzsche’s authority, or why use only Nietzsche’s “tools,” and not those of other authors? Why, in brief, claim what we are doing is “Nietzschean” at all?

Third, there is the aestheticizing move plotted differently by Blanchot and Bataille (their U.S. counterpart would be Walter Kaufmann). This is to treat Nietzsche’s texts as self-standing “autotelic” works of art or experiences for initiates, in a way that effectively renders null or “unimportant” all of their many passages addressing political subjects, from democracy and socialism to feminism, public education, the fate of Germany, Europe, and so on. For Blanchot, an ex-Maurrasian who reemerged after the war as an apolitical avant gardiste, Nietzsche is less a philosopher than a conceptual artist. All literature, including Nietzsche’s writings, is the closed domain of a kind of transhistorical elite, communicating with each other across gulfs of time, entirely insulated from anything like the passing political considerations of the day—or any day. In brief, with Blanchot, it is a matter of saving Nietzsche from any political assessment by removing the philosopher from political considerations altogether. The overman has become the “great writer,” “whom one asks only to write and not to enslave,” and who would not hurt a flea. As Bataille rejoins: “His doctrine of the dangerous life, of lucid humanity, unbound, scornful, is a stranger to public struggles. It concerns solitary men tragically pursuing their secret argument (débat) in the face of the hostile silence of the universe.”22

For Bataille, to read Nietzsche accurately—if that is still the word—involves being effectively converted to a kind of unsayable experience of “the intoxication of laughter.”23 We are a million miles from anything like exoteric political position-taking. Such an experience is closed to non-initiates, just as the real significance of Christianity is restricted to Christian believers, who have direct experience of the religion “from the inside.” As Monville notes, however, by accepting that one effectively needs to identify as a Nietzschean in order to even understand his writings, we are closing down not simply the possibility of reading this one philosopher critically. This is to undermine the possibility of rational criticism more widely, as against the polemical taking up of conflicting identitarian positions.24 As in an initiatory sect—remembering that the leftist Bataille himself founded such a sect, Acéphale, in the 1930s—there can only be believers and unbelievers, not critical debate allowing for the independent rational assessment of claims.25

Nevertheless, fourth—and most perilously for Left Nietzscheanism—there is a series of stock arguments against the aforementioned Lukács and similar critics of Nietzsche (today, Domenico Losurdo should have a place of honor).26 These topoi purport to show that Nietzscheanism could have had nothing to do with figures like Mussolini and Hitler. By addressing these arguments directly, Monville shows their poverty. Blanchot, for instance, proclaims that Hitler had no interest in Nietzsche, before recounting the former’s (apparently disinterested) visit to Nietzsche’s sister, “who offered him her brother’s sword, and the fact that Hitler even had his photo taken next to Nietzsche’s bust.”27 Additionally, there is the old canard that Nietzsche’s sister is to blame for Nietzsche’s political adoption by Nazis and other fascists: an argument that simply ignores, as Monville shows, that Nietzsche’s hallowed “anti-Germanism” is precisely what made him attractive to French ultranationalists, and that not all fascists were (or are) Germans, or Nazis, yesterday or today.28 In fact, even Deleuze and Foucault, among the Left Nietzscheans, have recognized that Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche was never guilty of falsifying her brother’s philosophical writings—indeed, she seems to have at times tried to soften their most inflammatory contents, as Losurdo has documented.29

There is above all a sophism, echoed by Onfray and Gianni Vattimo, that turns any critical demonstration of the continuities between Nietzschean themes and fascist ideology into a “proof” that the critic had uncritically overidentified with the fascistic perspective: “Lukács accepts in sum to read Nietzsche with the same eyes as the sycophants of the Third Reich.”30 There is a sophistical subtlety here that deserves admiration, for nearly no one would like to be identified with the Nazis. We can also be comforted, however inaccurately, by the idea that all of the Nazi intellectuals, including pro-Nietzschean figures of the magnitude of Martin Heidegger, were “sycophants.” But when the issue is whether and how the far right has drawn ideas from Nietzsche, to suggest that examining the bases of these ideological adoptions in Nietzsche’s texts is to uncritically identify with the Nazis’ perspective once more forecloses critical scholarship. To deny that such adoptions exist is unhistorical. But to presuppose, without looking, that there would be nothing to them is irresponsible.31

Bataille, to his credit—albeit writing in 1937, when The Destruction of Reason was still nearly two decades from publication—admits between gritted teeth that Lukács’s reading of Nietzsche is “perhaps refined and clever.”32 But then, as Monville notes, Bataille’s subsequent explanation of where Lukács was so “mistaken” is itself revealing: “Fascism and Nietzscheanism are mutually exclusive, and are even violently mutually exclusive, as soon as each of them is considered in its totality: on one side life is tied down and stabilized in an endless servitude, on the other there is not only a circulation of free air, but the wind of a tempest; on one side the charm of human culture is broken in order to make room for vulgar force, on the other force and violence are tragically dedicated to this charm.”33 As Monville therefore observes: “For Bataille, it is thus the ‘vulgar’ character of the force employed by fascism which distinguishes it from Nietzscheanism, but he does not disdain the employment of force or violence when they are dedicated to ‘the charm of human culture.'”34

Herein, we arrive at what is perhaps the heart of the paradoxical phenomenon of so-called Left Nietzscheanism on which Monville’s book invites us to remark. From Blanchot onward, the phenomenon works by displacing leftist protest about concrete, inegalitarian social and material conditions, rooted in the organized collective social movements of working people, with refined forms of rebellion, removed from social and material conditions altogether, and carried out in a rarefied cultural, discursive, or “spiritual” realm. Meanwhile, the protagonists of this leftism are reframed as isolated, pseudo-aristocratic individuals fighting to preserve their dynamic, creative uniqueness against a leveling, still-too-egalitarian world. “There is a revolutionary becoming which is not the same thing as the future of the revolution, and which does not necessarily go through the militants,” as Deleuze advises.35

At the same time as any reference to the category of justice disappears in this Nietzschean recasting of the post-socialist Left as “gauchist”—justice, alongside equality, socialism, and democracy itself, now being attributed to “slave morality”—violence passes from being a means of social change when other avenues are exhausted, to an aestheticized, even fetishized avatar of radical rupture or difference. As Monville puts it, in Left Nietzscheanism and its legatees, “the revolution” goes from being a political necessity to being “trendy.” It is a festive, imagined event to be valued in itself—on the only condition that it fails, and produces no robust vision of what might happen the day after, let alone the prospect of a more rational, egalitarian sociopolitical dispensation, which could only restrict the creative prerogatives of the happy few.36 In this new field, Nietzsche’s many avowals of the necessity for “hardness” and his celebrations of figures like Julius Caesar, Cesare Borgia, and Napoleon—the latter, for being as much “inhuman” as “overman”—are registered aesthetically, which is to say, “beyond good and evil.”37 The unlimited violence of such tyrannical figures is a good deal more interesting, after all, than the prosaic concerns of the “masses,” whom the older left had wished to organize and endow with agency.38

The political prospects of such a nietzchéisme de gauche are ambivalent, at best, faced with the rise of far-right movements globally. At most, they redirect rebellious energies into what Lukács called the “grand hotel abyss”: despairing withdrawal, elevated anti-demotic cynicism, and, today, a sense that Donald Trump, Viktor Orbán, and the like are hardly worse than the leveling society of the spectacle and its empty defenses of tainted “rights.” Monville’s concluding chapter on what he calls “behavioral pre-fascism” goes even further.39 He suggests that what we could call “cultural Nietzscheanism” is today hegemonic across popular, as well as refined, intellectual culture. As Sarah Kofman remarked as early as 1979: “Since Nietzsche et la philosophie by Gilles Deleuze which grants Nietzsche his key to the philosophical city…the works on Nietzsche have not ceased to multiply. All of modern philosophy reclaims Nietzsche, all of our culture ‘lives’ Nietzsche. Nietzsche even despite himself has become ‘popular,’ has been vulgarised by the mass media.”40

Monville identifies Nietzschean motifs in the sociology of the “risk society,” as well as in the libertarian opposition to social welfare or workers’ compensation—denounced as avatars of the “totalitarian” state. Above all, there are the endless “be yourself” and “just do it” celebrations of PR and mass marketing, which sync with the nomadic “flexibilization” of post-Fordist working conditions globalized since the 1970s crises.41 In contrast, Nietzschean scorn for the “masses,” Monville observes, plays out in such a way that this pseudo-aristocratic motif affords the middle classes, increasingly threatened with socioeconomic obsolescence, the ongoing consolation of at least being able to scorn those still below them: “Each Western household is hence enjoined to contemplate, like the others, the object of its scorn (the immigrant, the African famine victim, the Asiatic victim of natural catastrophes).… Each person has their ‘masses,’ who will be at the same time their foil and the justification of their misery. (‘How dare you complain when others, below you, are paid twenty times less than you?’) Each individual becomes the lord of themselves and the slave of the ruling class.”42

For a book written in 2007, it has to be said that Monville’s prognostications of the fascistizing direction where cultural Nietzscheanism and the wider state of liberal democracies was trending in the period of Nicolas Sarkozy and the “war on terror” read as disturbingly prescient:

the modern Nietzschean passes his existence in purchasing his right to existence, and first and foremost his body—the ultimate merchandise. The liberalization and deregulation of the most intimate sphere of the person—encouraged by Michel Onfray, who even asks us to “envisage openly” the question of eugenicism—will completely achieve the fetishism of the commodity. And the sole revolt which will from here on be permitted to the Nietzschean by power, when an irreducible part of his disarmed consciousness has, through misunderstanding, fomented some insurrection, will be total annihilation, bestiality towards the other animal which his masters will have brought into the neighbouring cage.43

There is of course a good deal more to Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche than we are able to cover, even in this relatively lengthy essay. Not the least interest of the book for many will be the chapter on Deleuze and Foucault, whose enormously influential, convergent forms of Nietzscheanism Monville reads as predicated intellectually on the opposition to dialectics—that methodology which we know leads historically from G. W. F. Hegel into Marxism.44 It is questionable whether Nietzsche had even read Hegel, Monville notes, let alone setting his entire work up against him, as Deleuze alleged.45 Yet the hostility to dialectics, looking back in the Greeks to Socrates, that ugly plebeian—and as such the peaceable, reasoned resolution of sociopolitical disagreements—sets Deleuzianism onto a path that inescapably aestheticizes thinking and pushes against the advances of scientific culture, going in a deeply irrationalist direction:

So, by what does Deleuze pretend to go beyond the dialectic? He rediscovers at times a Heideggerian accent that declares that “the worst enemy of thought is [critical] reason.” Against the dialectical progression, Deleuze chooses the “creation of concepts.” One then sees what arbitrariness imposes itself into philosophy. This is effectively the counterweight to Hegelian reason, to Descartes and, more generally, to the Western philosophical tradition that the same Heidegger calls “metaphysical.”46

Concerning Foucault, Monville is alert to the way that, by declaring that power is everywhere—and playing on the residual normativity of the left, for which unjustified power is coded negatively—Foucault has at once presented himself as “more radical than Marxism,” while also foreclosing any possibility of collectively organized political rebellion. The latter could only reproduce new forms of power, when “everything is dangerous”—just as Derrida in the hermeneutic field foreclosed any break from the “metaphysics” that he nevertheless made his name by “deconstructing.”47 In another passage: “Power thus cannot be refuted; it can only be denounced.”48 Once the veneer of academic canonicity is removed, Monville additionally notes, there are real questions about the normativity operating in Foucault’s famously “gauchist” declarations, like that at the end of Madness and Civilization, that “through Sade and Goya, the Western world received the possibility to go beyond reason by violence, and to rediscover the tragic experience beyond the promises of the dialectic.”49 Are not such declarations uncomfortably conversant with notorious fascist celebrations of violence, led by Hermann Göring’s declaration that whenever he hears the word “culture,” he reaches for his revolver?50 Foucauldians will cry “misreading!,” of course, and ask us to see the “violence” Foucault invokes as in some way “metaphorical” or “merely discursive”: as for Nietzsche, so for Foucault. Yet, when we note with Monville that what Foucault asks us to oppose to philosophy and scientific inquiry in some moments is “a species of surprised and joyful nonsense [bêtise], a sort of burst of incomprehensible laughter which finally…breaks [casse] rather than understands,” all reasoned criticism can only fall silent, since there is nothing left to say.51

As with almost every book, there are arguably particular points to Monville’s Misère that are weaker than others. At less than one hundred pages, the book aims at economy and at packing a polemical punch. Monville’s attempt to align Camus with Blanchot and Bataille, for instance, is awkward.52 Monville omits how, unlike the other Left Nietzscheans he examines—and despite the questionable laudatives Camus heaped on the German philosopher which Monville identifies—Camus did see clearly that Nietzsche’s affirmation of the innocence of becoming ends in the vindication of tyrannical violence. “Placed in the crucible of Nietzschean philosophy,” Camus wrote in The Rebel, “rebellion, in the intoxication of freedom, ends in biological or historical Caesarism.”53 Other readers could ask for examinations of influential figures like Pierre Klossowski and Derrida. Nevertheless, for tracing the history of the French refiguring of Nietzsche from being an admired figure for the Action française to the rebel hero of the “thinking of ’68” and the postmodern managerial classes, Monville’s little book deserves to be widely read and debated. The work issues an open challenge to intellectuals to not simply apply skeptical modes of critique to others, but to turn the elevated window into a mirror, and ask how philosophical ideas function ideologically for different audiences at distinct times. Such a challenge is arguably every bit as welcome as it is overdue, when it comes to the history of Nietzscheanism.

Indeed, although published in French in 2007, Monville’s Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche remains every bit as timely in the 2020s as the far right waxes internationally and the neoliberal constellation enters into what seems like terminal crisis. If Monville is right, Nietzscheanism has acted as a kind of ideological “useful idiot.” Without its progenitors always meaning to, Left Nietzscheanism has noisily helped to turn youthful dissent among the middle classes of the Global North away from political-economic concerns, and against any forms of collective, pro-egalitarian mobilization.54 Accordingly, the critique of the different forms of this cultural Nietzscheanism constitutes one small—but indispensable—part of fostering forms of democratic socialist opposition to both neoliberalism and the authoritarian monsters to which it is giving birth.


  1. Aymeric Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche: de George Bataille à Michel Onfray (Brussels: Éditions Aden, 2007), 9.
  2. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 32. “To speak of Nietzsche only has sense from within, and if one repudiates him, we forget what he denied. This proposition is paradoxical, but, in the same way, Christianity makes full sense only for Christians…a detached interest, from the outside, for Christianity would not have allowed us to talk about it, if others had not talked about it from within” (Georges Bataille, Œuvres complètes [Paris: Gallimard, 1988], XII, 422).
  3. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 7.
  4. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 7, 86–89.
  5. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 14–21.
  6. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 25–40, 55–72, 21–24, 73–83.
  7. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 27–29.
  8. See John Bellamy Foster, “The New Irrationalism,” Monthly Review 74, no. 9 (February 2023): 1–24.
  9. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 12.
  10. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 10.
  11. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 9–13, 86–89.
  12. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 9.
  13. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 7.
  14. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 43–45. “It would clearly be unproblematic for the stronger and more strongly delineated types of new Germanism (the officers of noble rank from the Mark, for instance) to get involved with them [Jewish women]: and it would be very interesting to see whether the genius of money and patience (and above all some spirit and spiritedness, which are in very short supply in the place just mentioned) could not be added into, bred into, the hereditary art of commanding and obeying—both of which are classic features of the Mark these days. But I should really break off my cheerful speeches and hyper-Germania here, since I am already touching on something I take seriously, on the ‘European problem’ as I understand it, on the breeding of a new caste to rule Europe” (Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, eds. Rolf-Peter Horstmann and Judith Norman, [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002], §251). The Cambridge translation gives “fortune and fortitude” for “money (Geldes) and patience (Geduld).” This is a mistranslation of Geld that removes the antisemitic register of the text. On this fragment, see Friedrich Nietzsche, Kritische Studienausgabe XI, 569: “The Germans must breed [züchten] a ruling class: I confess that the Jews have inherent qualities that are essential ingredients for a race that should conduct a global policy. The sense for money must be learned, inherited, and inherited a thousand times: even now the Jew can still vie with the Americans.” As he puts the eugenic proposal elsewhere, this “recipe” can be summarized as follows: “Christian stallions, Jewish mares” (Nietzsche, Kritische Studienausgabe XIV, 370).
  15. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, §251; Friedrich Nietzsche, Anti-Christ, eds. Aaron Ridley and Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), §2; Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, eds. Aaron Ridley and Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), “Skirmishes,” §37; Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, eds. Aaron Ridley and Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), “Why I am a Fatality,” §8.
  16. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, §4; Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, eds. Adrian Del Caro and Robert B. Pippin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), II; Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 49–48.
  17. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 52.
  18. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 41–42.
  19. “He who interprets Nietzsche by using his citations is a forger, because he will make him say everything he wants, arranging authentic words and sentences as he pleases. In the mine of this thinker every kind of metal is found: Nietzsche said everything and its contrary” (Giorgio Colli, Dopa Nietzsche [Milan: Adelphi, 1974], 196).
  20. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 38, 41–42.
  21. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 91.
  22. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 26–27; Bataille, Œuvres complètes, XI, 11.
  23. Bataille, Œuvres complètes, XII, 492.
  24. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 32.
  25. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 30–31.
  26. Domenico Losurdo, Nietzsche, the Aristocratic Rebel (Leiden: Brill, 2021),
  27. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 27. There is also the claim that Nietzsche was “anti-anti-semitic,” which Monville shows only works by selecting the positive things that Nietzsche does say, at different times, about the Jews, and especially the wealthier and more cultured “Western” versus “Eastern” Jews (42–46). We would also need to suppose a proposal to couple Jewish women with members of the Prussian aristocracy to breed financial acumen (“the genius of money,” which the philosopher attributes to Jews) into the latter is not antisemitic in Beyond Good and Evil at §251, which also contains other deeply ambiguous claims, relative to any alleged “anti-anti-semitism.” It is also to omit the primary role the Jews are alleged to have had in the slave revolt in morals, which they are alleged to have inaugurated in Genealogy of Morals (ed. Keith Ansell-Pearson [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006], §7, §8, §16; and Beyond Good and Evil, §195).
    For an especially odious passage, see the start of Genealogy of Morals, I, §9, in which the central idea of the slave revolt is linked with the idea of blood poisoning: “But why do you talk of nobler ideals? Let us submit to the facts; that the people have triumphed—or the slaves, or the populace, or the herd, or whatever name you care to give them—if this has happened through the Jews, so be it! In that case no nation ever had a greater mission in the world’s history. The ‘masters’ have been done away with; the morality of the vulgar man has triumphed. This triumph may also be called a blood-poisoning (it has mutually fused the races)—I do not dispute it; but there is no doubt but that this intoxication has succeeded.” The further claim of Nietzsche’s anti-Germanism, Monville shows, would at most speak against his Nazi appropriation; it allowed for his adoption by French ultranationalists in the circles of Charles Maurras (Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 15–21). One would also need to ask which Germany Nietzsche opposed, and when in his career: the early texts, for instance, invoked “the German wesen,” as in need of cleansing of foreign elements: “Our confidence is so high in the pure and vigorous kernel of the German soul that we dare to expect of it, and only of it, this elimination of forcibly ingrafted foreign elements, and we deem it possible that the German spirit will reflect anew on itself” (Birth of Tragedy, eds. Raymond Geuss and Ronald Speirs [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999], §23). On Nietzsche and antisemitism, see Losurdo, Nietzsche, the Aristocratic Rebel, 198–36, 164–90, 551–81.
  28. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 16–23.
  29. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 39. Also see Losurdo, Nietzsche, the Aristocratic Rebel, 711–26.
  30. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 28; Maurice Blanchot, L’Entretien infini (Paris: Gallimard, 1969), 212.
  31. It is sadly not superfluous to underline that Lukács’s long chapter on Nietzsche in Destruction of Reason quotes just one (Alfred Baeumler, author of the 1931 work, Nietzsche, der Philosoph und Politiker) of the Nazi sources (twice, out of 129 references) with whose “eyes” he is supposed to have read Nietzsche, despite being (to say the least) an outspoken Marxist critic of Nazism.
  32. Georges Bataille, “Nietzsche and the Fascists,”
  33. Bataille, “Nietzsche and the Fascists.”
  34. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 30.
  35. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 64; Gilles Deleuze, Dialogues (Paris: Flammarion, 1996), 8.
  36. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 84.
  37. Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, I, §16; Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, see 16–17.
  38. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 30.
  39. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 73–89.
  40. Sarah Kofman, Nietzsche et la scène philosophique (Paris: Union Générale d’Éditions, 1997), 7.
  41. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 86–87, 63.
  42. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 87–88.
  43. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 88–89.
  44. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 60–66.
  45. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 60.
  46. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 61.
  47. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 67–68.
  48. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 67.
  49. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 71; Michel Foucault, Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique (Paris: Gallimard, 1972), 660.
  50. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 71.
  51. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 70.
  52. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 33–37.
  53. Albert Camus, The Rebel (New York: Vintage, 1956), 79.
  54. Monville, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche, 73–79.
2024, Volume 75, Number 11 (April 2024)
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