Note: I wrote this a few years ago. It was not one of my better works. I had only read 3-4 chapters of the assigned reading, I was coming off of a 10-hour work shit, I had just taken adderall, only had a few hours to complete this paper, and then used certain quotations from these 3-4 chapters to twist Nietzsche’s words to fit into a certain preconceived idea I had about Nietzsche. I ended up getting a B+ or an A- on the paper, I don’t remember. The teacher was a top scholar on Nietzsche and did say I may some very good points. I have not edited the paper since I handed it in. Here it is in its entirety…
Does Nietzsche have anarchist leanings? In order to come to the conclusion of whether or not Nietzsche had anarchist leanings, we must first decipher what in fact it means to be an anarchist. An anarchist, by our definition, is someone who seeks to permanently abolish statism (the notion that a non-voluntary government should control either economic or social policy or both to some degree.). In opposition to the state, the anarchist favors a stateless society, usually in absence to any form of governance that is not completely voluntary. So does Nietzsche have anarchist leanings? If there is any passage that would expose his anarchist leanings, if he were to have any, it would be in Section 17 of his Second Essay in Geneology of Morals. So let’s take a better look at this section.
He writes in regard to the formation of the state, “the change was not gradual or voluntary and did not manifest itself as an organic growth into new conditions, but as a break, a leap, something forced, an irrefutable disaster, against which there was no struggle nor even any ressentiment.” Here it appears as though he is taking issue with, as he may claim, the “mythical” and “ahistorical” notion of the social contract. It seems he is saying that we did not in fact move out of the state of nature peacefully, voluntarily, or gradually. The state came about through violence, by the hands of the few, over the many. It appears he is in disagreement with other prominent political philosophers, such as Hobbes and Rousseau, who believed that our lives before the age of the state was one of eternal war and misery and that we unanimously came together to create a government to spare us from this evil existence. He continues, “[I]t assumes that the adaptation of a populace hitherto unchecked and shapeless into a fixed form, just as it was initiated by an act of violence, was carried to its conclusion by nothing but acts of violence—that consequently the oldest “State” emerged as a terrible tyranny, as an oppressive and inconsiderate machinery, and continued working until such raw materials of people and half-animals finally were not only thoroughly kneaded and submissive but also given a shape.” Here, it appears he is comparing the state to a well-oiled machinery of violence. Again, it was not brought about through peaceful means; it was brought about through violence, and since then, has never ceased in acting violently. Every time it grows, it grows in violence. This is a popular anarchist thought and one espoused by many anti-statist philosophers. The state is inherently violent – it subsists on taxation and would fall without it. If one does not consent to taxation, then it is equivalent to theft or extortion, and thus immoral (in the eyes of many taxpayers). If I am not willing to give the government the money it demands, then I will be met with violence. I will be taken away by men with guns and put in a cage for an arbitrary number of years. I must either submit to the state and all that it commands of me, or I can disobey (peacefully or violently), and yet still I will be met with violence. This is the case with anything the state demands from its citizens. Every state is tyrannical. The government is not a slave to our wills (or our votes); we are slaves to the government. Perhaps even worse than the inherently violent nature of the state, is its ability to rob us of our identity. Rather than let man be free to grow and prosper and choose his own ends, it shapes man into that which it requires for subjection. Man, constantly abused by the state, like most victims of abuse, is afflicted by a case of ‘learned helplessness.’ He gives up. Rather than fight back he surrenders. He is no longer a man, for any a priori definition of man requires that man be free. So what has man now become? He is an animal, he is a slave, he is dead.
Nietzsche goes on further to define the state and the atrocities it commits. He writes, “I used the word “State”: it is self-evident who is meant by that term— some pack of blond predatory animals, a race of conquerors and masters, which, organized for war and with the power to organize, without thinking about it, sets its terrifying paws on a subordinate population which may perhaps be vast in numbers but is still without any form, is still wandering about. That is, in fact, the way the “State” begins on earth. I believe that fantasy has been done away with which sees the beginning of the state in a “contract.” The man who can command, who is by nature a “master,” who comes forward with violence in his actions and gestures—what has he to do with making contracts! We do not negotiate with such beings.” Again he goes back to the origins of the state and attempts to dispel the notion that there was some sort of voluntary contract (that once existed or perhaps still exists today) that legitimizes the state’s rule over man. This is what the state is; a pack of predatory animals ruling over those without claws, or those who refuse to use them. This is how it has come into existence; violence and force. Make no mistake about it, and do not listen to the fools who try to paint a false but more palatable picture, it was a baptism in blood, and man is still licking his wounds. Yet, the line “sets its terrifying paws on a subordinate population which may perhaps be vast in numbers but it still without any form, is still wandering about” may be a call to arms urging man to find his way and rebel against the state to embrace cooperation in a stateless existence. We are still lost, wandering about, but perhaps one day soon we can find our way. Perhaps we don’t need the state to be our shepherd and sovereign, perhaps we can be shepherds unto ourselves? He goes on further to lambaste the notion of the social contract, “I believe that fantasy has been done away with which sees the beginning of the state in a “contract.” The man who can command, who is by nature a “master,” who comes forward with violence in his actions and gestures—what has he to do with making contracts! We do not negotiate with such beings.” What is this social contract you speak of? What a bad cruel joke. Contracts are freedom, order, and a thing of true beauty. The ability to be free to make a promise or a binding contract is man’s most pure and righteous characteristic and his most dominant natural instinct. The notion of the social contract makes a mockery of something very important to Nietzsche’s philosophy; the importance of making contracts and promises. The social contract cannot be viewed in any way similar to a contract; did I make this promise explicitly? If not then it cannot be deemed valid. With whom did I make this contract? Did I sign this contract under the threat of violence? If so it is invalid. Am I allowed to break my promise? Nietzsche takes such an issue with the idea of the social contract, because he realizes how important contracts and promises are to man’s nature – to his freedom and his happiness.
He goes on further to describe the state and those who compose it and their ability to transform man, he writes, “Their work is the instinctive creation of forms, the imposition of forms. They are the most involuntary and most unconscious artists in existence:—where they appear something new is soon present… These men, these born organizers, have no idea what guilt, responsibility, and consideration are.” The state works in corrupting man’s nature. The state works in bending the will of man. The state works in turning man against his nature, and instead imposes the will of the state onto man. Man then becomes whatever the state wants it to be; quiet, ignorant, complacent, and uniform. The state, again, is inherently involuntary and violent in nature. If I don’t consent to its rule, its law, or in paying taxes, I must still do so or I will be met with violence. How is this in any way voluntary? Those who work within the system of the state, the leaders, the governors, the bureaucrats, these are men who are self-serving and perhaps even sociopathic. They do not feel guilty for using violence against the innocent populous, for ruling over men who don’t want to/need to be ruled; they do not serve the ends of those they rule, they serve only their own interests. He continues, “They are not the ones in whom “bad conscience” grew—that point is obvious from the outset. But this hateful plant would not have grown without them. It would have failed if an immense amount of freedom had not been driven from the world under the pressure of their hammer blows, their artistic violence, or at least had not been driven from sight and, as it were, made latent. This powerful instinct for freedom, once made latent—we already understand how—this instinct for freedom driven back, repressed, imprisoned inside, and finally still able to discharge and direct itself only against itself—that and that alone is what bad conscience is in its beginning.” There is no guilt in these cruel slave masters, crooks, and murderers. That is for their slaves to feel. They are trapped in a rigged game, living in an unjust world, and forced to do that which deep down they know is wrong. And at the same time they know there is still very little they can do. So thus, they take that resentment and turn it inward onto themselves. They suffer, they become depressed, and once one’s instinct for freedom becomes suppressed by this outside force, they grow dead inside and cease to be man. So what is man to do? Man must rebel. He must not let the state nor any man suppress his natural instincts, his right to be free. The state can take your house, your car, and your money, but you cannot let it take that which defines you as man; your will to freedom. You must not surrender so easily and accept a life as a slave. You must strive for freedom and never tire in fighting, and yet, how can one reach this? The first step for man to be free and truly his self and his own person, is in abolishing the state.
So far, throughout this paper, I’ve attempted to make the case that Nietzsche did have anarchist leanings. However, I cannot in good conscience say that this is completely the case. Admittedly I have been manipulating his message in such a way as to fit the anarchist agenda. I most likely have taken some of his comments out of context, intensified them, or have even put a few words in his mouth. When all of the evidence is tallied up, it appears there is more evidence in support of the claim that Nietzsche was not an anarchist. Nietzsche was not an anarchist, although many have made the argument before me. Many argued his work was influenced in a great deal by the famous German egoist and anarchist Max Stirner. Nietzsche, however, clearly is not an anarchist, and may have even disliked anarchists a great deal. In Beyond Good and Evil, he even goes so far as to call them as to compare them to dogs. He writes, “That its TEMPO, however, is much too slow and sleepy for the more impatient ones, for those who are sick and distracted by the herding-instinct, is indicated by the increasingly furious howling, and always less disguised teeth- gnashing of the anarchist dogs, who are now roving through the highways of European culture.” While, Nietzsche did not identify himself with anarchists, that does not change the fact that his works housed very anti-statist sentiments. Indeed, the American anarchist Benjamin Tucker once wrote, “Nietzsche says splendid things, – often, indeed, Anarchist things, – but he is no Anarchist. It is of the Anarchists, then, to intellectually exploit this would-be exploiter. He may be utilized profitably, but not prophetably.” This chapter isn’t the only example of Nietzsche’s anti-statism. In Part I, Chapter 11 of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche takes aim once again at the state. He claims statism is a new religion, where people worship the state as some sort of infallible god to be blindly followed in spite of oneself. He again claims the state fosters uniformity and compliance in contrast to excellence and creativity, and that true freedom lies outside the realm of the state. Although he may have not have called himself an anarchist, he may still have some anarchist or anti-statist leanings. It is clear he is not someone who favors the existence of the state. He sees how it works in opposition to the will of the individual. Yet at the same time he idolized the worlds of the ancients and found domination to be morally permissible. If I had to guess I’d say Nietzsche just wasn’t concerned with determining the best way to structure a society. Instead he merely wanted to explain how society can evolve around people who aren’t concerned with how a society is organized. This goes back to the notion of the overman who stands above all laws, morality, social conventions, and old values. Nietzsche is more concerned with creating a world where humanity can reach its full potential than he is with creating a moral, happy, or peaceful society. Perhaps this is the sole reason he despises the state, he sees it as a barrier to the overman. How can the overman ever come if man is constantly being held in shackles by the state, his freedom and his individuality denied, and being shaped into an inferior nature that is not entirely his? Perhaps this is the reason Nietzsche opposes the state, or perhaps it is not, but whatever the reason, it is apparent that he does oppose the state. So while I cannot say he is an anarchist, he does in some ways house anarchistic leanings in so far as they both have a mutual disdain for the state.
: Nietzsche, Friedrich, and Ian Johnston. “On the Genealogy of Morals: Second Essay.” Web. 05 Apr. 2012. <http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/nietzsche/genealogy2.htm>.
 Zimmern, Hellen. “Beyond Good and Evil, Ch 5.” Beyond Good and Evil, Ch 5. Web. 05 Apr. 2012. <http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/nietzsche/1886/beyond-good-evil/ch05.htm>.
 Holub, Robert C. “Nietzsche: Socialist, Anarchist, Feminist.” Web. 5 Apr. 2012. <http://learning.berkeley.edu/robertholub/research/>.