The Idle Rich and the Working Stiff: Nietzche von Hayek on Capital v. Labor

19 Apr

Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human:

Culture and caste.—A higher culture can come into existence only when there are two different castes in society: that of the workers and that of the idle, of those capable of true leisure; or, expressed more vigorously: the caste compelled to work and the caste that works if it wants to….the caste of the idle is the more capable of suffering and suffers more, its enjoyment of existence is less, its task heavier. (§439)

My utopia.—In a better ordering of society the heavy work and exigencies of life will be apportioned to him who suffers least as a consequence of them, that is to say to the most insensible, and thus step by step up to him who is most sensitive to the most highly substantiated species of suffering and who therefore suffers even when life is alleviated to the greatest degree possible. (§462)

…the better, outwardly more favoured caste of society whose real task, the production of supreme cultural values, makes their inner life so much harder and more painful. (§480)

Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty:

Whoever desires the regular income for which he sells his labor must devote his working hours to the immediate tasks which are determined for him by others. To do the bidding of others is for the employed the condition of achieving his purpose. (186)

[The worker] has little knowledge of the responsibilities of those who control resources and who must concern themselves constantly with new arrangements and combinations; he is little acquainted with the attitudes and modes of life which the need for decisions concerning the use of property and income produces….While, for the employed, work is largely a matter of fitting himself into a given framework during a certain number of hours, for the independent it is a question of shaping and reshaping a plan of life, of finding solutions for ever new problems.  (188)

There can be little doubt, at any rate, that employment has become not only the actual but the preferred position of the majority of the population, who find that it gives them what they mainly want: an assured fixed income available for current expenditure, more or less automatic raises, and provision for old age. They are thus relieved of some of the responsibilities of economic life… (189)

The man of independent means is an even more important figure in a free society when he is not occupied with using his capital in the pursuit of material gain but uses it in the service of aims which bring no material return. It is more in the support of aims which the mechanism of the market cannot adequately take care of than in preserving that market that the man of independent means has his indispensable role to play in any civilized society. (190)

There must be, in other words, a tolerance for the existence of a group of idle rich—idle not in the sense that they do nothing useful but in the sense that their aims are not entirely governed by considerations of material gain.  (193)

However important the independent owner of property may be for the economic order of a free society, his importance is perhaps even greater in the fields of thought and opinion, of tastes and beliefs. There is something seriously lacking in a society in which all the intellectual, moral, and artistic leaders belong to the employed class. (193)

For earlier iterations of Nietzsche von Hayek, Nietzsche and the Marginals, and my ongoing effort to see the world of neoclassical and Austrian economics through the lens of philosophy and political theory, see…

Nietzsche von Hayek on Merit

The Price of Labor: Burke, Nietzsche, Menger

Nietzsche and the Marginals, again (on the construction of utility)

Nietzsche and the Marginals (on the foundation of value)

Even More Nietzsche von Hayek (on the higher types and the determination of value)

Nietzsche von Hayek (on reward and happiness, power and force)

The Entrepreneur as Medieval Lord (Schumpeter, all too Schumpeter)

The Ding an Sich of Economics (Jevons on the inscrutability of hearts and minds)

Nietzsche and Neoliberalism: When Commercial Actions Become Acts of Great Noblesse

Nietzsche on the Labor Question

And for some clarification, however imperfect and incomplete, of what I’m up to, see this comment here.

49 Responses to “The Idle Rich and the Working Stiff: Nietzche von Hayek on Capital v. Labor”

  1. kerry candaele April 19, 2013 at 12:58 am #

    I can’t imagine von Hyek writing anything close to this.

    What follows is for the most part from Brian Leiter’s work: Nietzsche had three heroes in his intellectual universe, Beethoven, Goethe, and, of course, Frederick Nietzsche. Here’s why: “the men of great creativity” are “the really great men according to my understanding” (WP 957) “We can identifiy five characteristics that Nietzsche identifies as distinctive of “higher men”: the higher type is solitary, pursues a “unifying project,” is healthy, is life-affirming, and practices self-reverence. Taken together, they are plainly sufficient to make someone a higher type in Nietzsche’s view, though it is not obvious that any one of these is necessary, and various combinations often seem sufficient for explaining how Nietzsche speaks of higher human beings.”
    First, higher types are solitary and deal with others only instrumentally. “Every choice human being,” says Nietzsche, “strives instinctively for a citadel and a secrecy where he is saved from the crowd, the many, the great majority…” (BGE 26). “The concept of greatness entails being noble, wanting to be by oneself, being able to be different, standing alone and having to live independently” (BGE 212). Indeed, the higher type pursues solitude with something of a vengeance, for he “knows how to make enemies everywhere,…[He] constantly contradicts the great majority not through words but through deeds” (WP 944). Unsurprisingly, then, the great or higher man lacks the “congeniality” and “good-naturedness” so often celebrated in contemporary popular culture. “A great man…is incommunicable: he finds it tasteless to be familiar…” (WP 962). More than that, though, the higher type deals with others, when he has to, in a rather distinctive way: “A human being who strives for something great considers everyone he meets on his way either as a means or as a delay and obstacle — or as a temporary resting place” (BGE 273). Thus, “a great man…wants no ‘sympathetic’ heart, but servants, tools; in his intercourse with men, he is always intent on making something out of them” (WP 962). The great man approaches others instrumentally not only because of his fundamental proclivity for solitude, but because of another distinguishing characteristic: he is consumed by his work, his responsibilities, his projects.

    Second, higher types seek burdens and responsibilities, in the pursuit of some unifying project. “What is noble?” Nietzsche again asks in a Nachlass note of 1888. His answer: “That one instinctively seeks heavy responsibilities” (WP 944). So it was with Goethe: “he was not fainthearted but took as much as possible upon himself, over himself, into himself”. But the higher type does not seek out responsibilities and tasks arbitrarily. “A great man,” says Nietzsche displays “a long logic in all of his activity…he has the ability to extend his will across great stretches of his life and to despise, and reject everything petty about him” (WP 962). This is the trait Nietzsche sometimes refers to as having “style” in ”character” (GS 290). (Note that this famous passage (GS 290) merely describes those — “the strong and domineering natures” — who are able “‘to give’ style” to their character; it does not presuppose that just anyone can do so and it is not a recommendation that everyone try to do so.) Indeed, Nietzsche understood his own life in these terms:

    [T]he organizing “idea” that is destined to rule [in one's life and work] keeps growing deep down — it begins to command; slowly it leads us back from side roads and wrong roads; it prepares single qualities and fitnesses that will one day prove to be indispensable as means toward a whole — one by one, it trains all subservient capacities before giving any hint of the dominant task, “goal,’ “aim,” or “meaning.”

    Considered in this way, my life is simply wonderful. For the task of a revaluation of all values more capacities may have been needed than have ever dwelt together in a single individual….I never even suspected what was growing in me — and one day all my capacities, suddenly ripe, leaped forth in their ultimate perfection. (EH II:9).

    Earlier in Ecce Homo, Nietzsche describes himself as a higher type, “a well-turned-out-person” (EH I:2), and thus we may conclude that it is a characteristic only of the higher type that he is driven in pursuit of a project in the way described here. Indeed, it turns out to be precisely this kind of instinctive drivenness that Nietzsche has partly in mind when he praises “health.”

    Third, higher types are essentially healthy and resilient. One essential attribute of the “well-turned-out-person “is that he “has a taste only for what is good for him; his pleasure, his delight cease where the measure of what is good for him is transgressed. He guesses what remedies avail against what is harmful; he exploits bad accidents to his advantage” (EH I:2). But this is just to say that a higher type is healthy, for health, Nietzsche tells us, means simply “instinctively cho[osing] the right means against wretched states” (EH I:2). This permits us to understand Nietzsche’s own declaration in Ecce Homo that he was “healthy at bottom” (EH I:2), a seemingly paradoxical claim for a philosopher whose physical ailments were legion. Yet “health,” for Nietzsche, is a term of art, meaning not the absence of sickness, but something closer to resilience, to how one deals with ordinary (physical) sickness and setbacks. “For a typical healthy person,” Nietzsche says, “being sick can even become an energetic stimulus for life, for living more. This, in fact, is how [my own] long period of sickness appears to me now…it was during the years of my lowest vitality that I ceased to be a pessimist; the instinct of self-restoration forbade me a philosophy of poverty and discouragement” (EH I:2). To cease to be a pessimist is to reject MPS, for only under the color of MPS does life appear to lack value. Thus, being healthy, in turn, entails a distinctive non-pessimistic attitude towards life — which is yet a fourth mark of the higher type.

    Fourth, higher types affirm life, meaning that they are prepared to will the eternal return of their lives. In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche describes “the opposite ideal” to that of moralists and pessimists like Schopenhauer as “the ideal of the most high-spirited, alive, and world-affirming human being who has not only come to terms and learned to get along with whatever was and is, but who wants to have what was and is repeated into all eternity” (BGE 56). Put more simply: the higher type embraces the doctrine of the eternal recurrence and thus evinces what Nietzsche often calls a “Dionysian” or “life-affirming” attitude. A person, for Nietzsche, has a Dionysian attitude toward life insofar as he affirms his life unconditionally; in particular, insofar as he affirms it including the “suffering” or other hardships it has involved. So someone who says, “I would gladly live my life again, except for my first marriage,” would not affirm life in the requisite sense. Thus, we may say that a person affirms his life in Nietzsche’s sense only insofar as he would gladly will its eternal return: i.e., will the repetition of his entire life through eternity. In fact, Nietzsche calls “the idea of the eternal recurrence” the “highest formulation of affirmation that is at all attainable” (EH III:Z-1; cf. BGE 56). Higher men, then, are marked by a distinctive Dionysian attitude toward their life: they would gladly will the repetition of their life eternally.

    Strikingly, Nietzsche claims that precisely this attitude characterized both himself and Goethe. Speaking, for example, of the neglect by his contemporaries of his work, Nietzsche writes: “I myself have never suffered from all this; what is necessary does not hurt me; amor fati [love of fate] is my inmost nature” (EH III:CW-4). Regarding Goethe, Nietzsche says that, “Such a spirit…stands amid the cosmos with a joyous and trusting fatalism, in the faith…that all is redeemed and affirmed in the whole….Such a faith, however, is the highest of all possible faiths: I have baptized it with the name of Dionysus” (TI IX:49).

    Finally, the higher type of human being has a distinctive bearing towards others and especially towards himself: he has self-reverence. “The ‘higher nature’ of the great man,” says Nietzsche in a striking Nachlass note of 1888 “lies in being different, in incommunicability, in distance of rank, not in an effect of any kind — even if he made the whole globe tremble” (WP 876; cf. GS 55). This is perhaps the most unusual feature of Nietzsche’s discussion of the higher type, for it suggests that, at bottom, being a higher type is a matter of “attitude” or “bearing.” In a section of Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche once again answers the question, “What is noble?”, this time as follows: “It is not the works, it is the faith that is decisive here, that determines the order of rank…: some fundamental certainty that a noble soul has about itself, something that cannot be sought, nor found, nor perhaps lost. The noble soul has reverence [Ehrfurcht] for itself” (BGE 287). Self-reverence — to revere and respect oneself as one might a god — is no small achievement, as the proliferation of “self-help” programs and pop psychology slogans like “I’m OK, you’re OK” would suggest. Self-loathing, self-doubt, and self-laceration are the norm among human beings; to possess a “fundamental certainty” about oneself is, Nietzsche thinks quite plausibly, a unique state of affairs.

    Allied with this posture of self-reverence are other distinctive attitudes that distinguish the bearing of the higher man. “The noble human being,” says Nietzsche, “honors himself as one who is powerful, also as one who has power over himself, who knows how to speak and be silent, who delights in being severe and hard with himself and respects all severity and hardness” (BGE 260). (The higher man, unsurprisingly, is no hedonist: “What is noble?” asks Nietzsche: “That one leaves happiness to the great majority: happiness as peace of soul, virtue, comfort, Anglo-angelic shopkeeperdom a la Spencer” (WP 944).) In an earlier work, Nietzsche explains that:

    [T]he passion that attacks those who are noble is peculiar….It involves the use of a rare and singular standard cold to everybody else; the discovery of values for which no scales have been invented yet; offering sacrifices on altars that are dedicated to an unknown god; a courage without any desire for honors; self-sufficiency that overflows and gives to men and things. (GS 55)

    Indeed, the ability to set his own standard of valuation is one of the most distinctive achievements of the higher type, as we saw already in the discussion of solitude. And “the highest man” says Nietzsche is “he who determines values and directs the will of millennia by giving direction to the highest natures” (WP 999).

    Considered all together, it becomes clear why creatives geniuses like Goethe, Beethoven, and Nietzsche himself should be the preferred examples of the higher human being: for the characteristics of the higher type so-described are precisely those that lend themselves to artistic and creative work. A penchant for solitude, an absolute devotion to one’s tasks, an indifference to external opinion, a fundamental certainty about oneself and one’s values (that often strikes others as hubris) — all these are the traits we find, again and again, in artistic geniuses. (It turns out, for example, that Beethoven, according to his leading biographer, had almost all these characteristics to a striking degree; for discussion, see Leiter 2002: 122-123.)

  2. Patrick April 19, 2013 at 12:59 am #

    When I was introduced to political philsophy in undergrad, Hegel’s Master-Slave dialectic was used as one of the organizing principles. (The professor though it was pointless to have undergrads actually read Hegel, so we read Fukuyama’s END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN as a proxy for political Hegelianism.

    When we read Nietzche (GENEOLOGY OF MORALS and ECCE HOMO) the professor said that one of the reasons we did so is that Nietzche presents the “Vision of the Master,” in a very direct way. He also identified in one of his lectures that the same vision was present, but not as forcefully articulated in De Toqueville. This almost makes me want to go back and re-read Fukuyama. But I really don’t have time.

  3. Montinari April 19, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Where does Nietzsche speak about “capital” in these passages?

    • Montinari April 20, 2013 at 12:14 am #

      Does anyone else see it? Am I missing something here? Anybody?

      • Blinkenlights der Gutenberg April 20, 2013 at 10:36 am #

        “the caste compelled to work and the caste that works if it wants to”

        i.e., the working class and the capitalist class.

      • Scott Preston April 20, 2013 at 11:15 am #

        “the caste compelled to work and the caste that works if it wants to”

        i.e., the working class and the capitalist class.

        I’m not sure that this gets to the gist of Nietzsche’s meaning here. Take the Buddha, for whom Nietzsche had high regard. (It is even a question for me whether Nietzsche didn’t derive his notion of the “overman” from frequent references to the Buddha in literature as having “the 32 marks of the overman” — one who had broken through the human form or human mold and shattered the bubble of perception called “maya”). For Nietzsche, the type of “the Buddha” is not a man of the past, but of an as yet unrealised future — an appointment yet to be kept. In relation to someone like Buddha (or Goethe for that matter) we men of the present are still “past men”, the as yet unrealised possible future.

        You cannot interpret the life of the Buddha (or Jesus, for that matter) in economistic terms. They both have led strangely parallel lives. Both were descended from lines of princes or even warriors, yet both became beggars, and therefore “idlers” in terms of a narrow economistic point of view — unproductive. Yet undeniably prolific lives.

      • Blinkenlights der Gutenberg April 20, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

        Scott, honestly, I have no idea what you are on about. The passage clearly specifies that it is about _society_ and the division of the whole of society into _castes_. This, he says, allows higher culture to be produced. He is not talking individual people or their characteristics here.

        It is a straightforward statement of the classic mudsill theory. I don’t know how you can interpret it otherwise.

        Perhaps I should ask _why_ you would interpret it otherwise: are you just trying to find an interpretation that makes Nietzsche look better?

      • Scott Preston April 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

        It is a straightforward statement of the classic mudsill theory. I don’t know how you can interpret it otherwise.

        No. It’s more than that. Let’s take Egypt as an example. The Greeks credited the Egyptians with discovery of the soul (and one could quibble about whether this was invention or discovery). Yet, initially, only the Pharoah was credited with having a soul — this particular “value”. Only afterwards, by a kind of democratic diffusion as it were, did the Egyptian man-in-the-street come to have this value also — a soul. This democratic diffusion probably diminished Pharoah’s grandeur. It is, in any case, the beginning of the notion of “individuality”, which the Greeks elaborated upon, and which we have inherited right down to the present day. “Psyche” was not originally what was known as “soul”.

        The “ka”, however, isn’t the same as the soul. The “ka” is the psychopomp which departs the body in advance of death to prepare the way for the soul in the afterlife. Only the Pharoah, however, had the privilege in life of being united or one with his Ka, presumably because he was the guide or psychopomp himself for the nation. It was his “majesty”, but which probably later translated into “grace” as well. Only Pharoah was what we would call today the “self-realized”.

        After about 2 or 3 centuries, however, this principle finally becomes translated into secular terms — “every man a king”. In any event, the process of the “ennoblement” of man has deep roots in antiquity. Nietzsche is, in one sense, only trying to carry it forward.

      • Montinari April 20, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

        the caste compelled to work and the caste that works if it wants to”

        None of this necessarily suggests capital. Caste ≠ class. Even the old feudal order of estates differed greatly from modern class society. Estate ≠ class. Categories like these seem to indicate premodern (i.e., precapitalist) societies.

        Moreover, there have been people in society who haven’t had to work for a living for millennia. It does not follow that these “idle rich” were capitalists. The clergy and aristocracy in precapitalist times did not have to work; the former prayed while the latter fought.

        Even if they’d been speaking about classes, this still doesn’t explain “capital.” A category like “capital” is utterly foreign to Nietzsche’s philosophy, whether or not he read works of political economy. To suggest otherwise is both anachronistic and irresponsible.

    • Scott Preston April 20, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

      By the by, a contemporary example somewhat parallel to the story of how the “soul” came to be in Egypt through the Pharoah, and which is pertinent to some of Nietzsche’s remarks, is the moon shots.

      No one can say, I think, that the astronauts involved were “productive” in narrow economic terms. And yet this video on the “Overview Effect” demonstrates that diffusion of values that occurs. Many people only truly felt an inner responsiveness to Nietzsche’s “Be true to the Earth!” (Bleib der Erde treu!) when seeing the Earth as a whole through the eyes of others who, in our terms, constitute an elite who were themselves transformed by the experience.

      http://www.upworthy.com/some-strange-things-are-happening-to-astronauts-returning-to-earth?g=2

  4. Benjamin David Steele April 19, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    “Culture and caste.—A higher culture can come into existence only when there are two different castes in society: that of the workers and that of the idle, of those capable of true leisure; or, expressed more vigorously: the caste compelled to work and the caste that works if it wants to….the caste of the idle is the more capable of suffering and suffers more, its enjoyment of existence is less, its task heavier.”

    This sounds like the pre-industrial, agrarian and slaveholding beliefs and values of the revolutionary-era partriarchal elites, especially in the South, most specifically in Virginia. The likes of Jefferson idealized an enlightened aristocracy. The ideal proposed a ruling political elite who were independently wealthy enough so that they didn’t need to dirty their hands with real work or compromise their principles with private self-interest.

    It was based on the social structure of slaveholding republican societies of ancient Greece and Rome, upon which was based the supposed republican virtues of social duty. The notion was that an enlightened aristocrat would work out of social duty, but never out of need.

    Washington took this ideal the most seriously. Ironically, only Benjamin Franklin who worked up from indentured servitude was ever able to be wealthy enough to live out the fantasy life of the independently wealthy enlightened aristocrat. The Virginian elite were born into wealth, but they were also born into debt. They were tied down by their inheritance and their lifestyle. Franklin had no such encumbrances and he felt little of the social obligation that Washington felt. Having run away from his indentured master, I doubt Franklin felt much desire to tie himself down to social obligations.

    As an outsider to the elite, though, Franklin would have made great material for reactionary conservatism. He did own slaves and his newspaper regularly published notices about the sale or purchase of slaves and contracts for indentured laborers. It should be noted that indentured servants were often treated worse than slaves because they were limited investments. It’s like how someone will treat property better if they own it than if they rent it. Certainly, as a former indentured servant, Franklin should have understood why others would want to escape as he did. Franklin eventually did come to an understanding about slavery being wrong and he became an abolitionist, although it would have been easier for him to played the role of reactionary conservative in trying to prove his elite worthiness over the lessers of society, instead he came to realize blacks were equal to whites by observing black school children who demonstrated equal skill and intelligence.

    People have a choice when they’ve experienced victimization. They can become a victimizer themselves or they can become a defender of victims. Franklin chose the former first, but finally came around to the second. Apparently, his own experience allowed him to feel empathy rather than making him cold-hearted and cruel. Nietzsche didn’t experience such victimhood, but he wasn’t born into aristocracy either. On the other hand, Nietzsche went to a private school and early on became friends with those who came from the elite class. Franklin seems to have had a tougher path toward respectability and he seems to never have forgotten his humble beginnings. Maybe Nietzsche would have been more humble if he likewise began so humbled. Hayek was born into even less humble conditions, quite highly respectable parents and his lineage even including nobility.

    It is easy for Nietzsche and Hayek to look down upon those who have lives they know nothing about from personal experience. It is easy for those to think of themselves as masters who are born into or grew up among those who born into the elite.

    • Scott Preston April 20, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      A higher culture can come into existence only when there are two different castes in society: that of the workers and that of the idle, of those capable of true leisure; or, expressed more vigorously: the caste compelled to work and the caste that works if it wants to….the caste of the idle is the more capable of suffering and suffers more, its enjoyment of existence is less, its task heavier.”

      Reminds of the movie Zardoz (a play on “Wizard of Oz”)

      Still, it’s not the full story, and it’s not perceived clearly what the actual relationship is here because we have become accustomed to thinking in terms of subject and object, or private and public spaces, internal and external spaces, and these spaces standing in mutual contradiction to each other.

      But that’s not the key to interpreting some of Nietzsche’s work. Unlike the polarisation of space into subject and object, we have, tellingly, no equivalent formal terms for the polarisation of times, past and future. Rosenstock-Huessy has proposed such terms as “preject” (and prejective) and “traject” (and trajective) to describe an individual’s or society’s orientation to the times as change and permanence (tradition) respectively,, and these would describe the progressive or conservative, (or in the extreme, the revolutionary or reactionary), possibilites of human orientation to the times.

      In Nietzsche, you frequently find the coincidentia oppositorum of the times — future and past co-existing and in contradiction, and this is the issue of Shakespeare’s “times out of joint”, too — a decisive confrontation between future and past. This coincidentia oppositorum of times is what makes Nietzsche appear, at times, contradictory. It is his vaunted ability to “switch perspectives” owing to the fact that he has one foot in life and one foot in death, as he put it. He straddles the times. And Nietzsche explicitly states it this way, that he sees forwards from the past as well as backwards from the future, and he can do this because they are co-present to him as they are in a Picasso painting. And it’s for this reason, too, that he entertained the conceit that he was also a new caesura of history, and that history would be measured in terms of “before” and “after” Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s thinking is essentially temporally oriented, not spatially-oriented.

      We tend to cast the issue of Capital versus Labour in Cartesian terms, as subject and object, private and public molds. This isn’t really the issue — or at least the full issue. It’s the engineer/inventor/innovator who stands in contradiction to Labour. Labour occupies the past –routine, repetitive, cyclic, recurrent front of time. This is what Nietzsche means when he remarks that the worker is not free to choose or vary how he works. He is at the mercy of the engineer or inventor who can, at any time, invent a new system of production that may make him obsolete or redundant and nullify the value of his skill.

      The “artist” stands in relation to culture as the engineer (or labourer) stands in relation to the whole system of production. The “idle” may also be the drop-out, as Nietzsche was himself — the one who cannot reconcile himself with his milieu because he or she already represents, in value terms, a future not yet become a presence, and which stands in conflict with the past. He thought little of the value of “industriousness”. In this sense, the “two castes” may well represent temporal or cultural social formations, not necessarily economic ones. What is “higher” in Nietzsche’s usage is most often translated as future — what is not yet realised as shared presence.

      • Benjamin David Steele April 20, 2013 at 10:23 am #

        I wasn’t so much emphasizing the aspect of Franklin’s, Nietzsche’s and Hayek’s conscious intellectual reasons for what they believed and/or did. Such reasons often are rationalizations or built on them or are mixed up with them. I was trying to get at the more human level of behavior, the psychological motivations, which is often not conscious and not easily comprehended by the intellect.

        Everyone can give reasons, but reasons aren’t necessarily the same thing as motivations. Reasons are usually an afterthought. Reasons are what we turn to when the dust settles and events calm. It is rare for humans to give their reasons far in advance of acting.

        So, you could be entirely right about Nietzsche’s reasons and it still could be irrelevant to his motivations. To be clear, though, I’m not claiming to know Nietzsche’s motivations. I’m just speculating based on what is known about human nature. Psychology applies equally to philosophical geniuses as to everyone else, as equally to the master as the slave, or whatever distinction you wish to make.

      • Scott Preston April 20, 2013 at 10:24 am #

        On the “two castes” — William Blake, I find, is often an illuminating source of insight into Nietzsche (and vice versa). They were, in some sense, kindred spirits. So, in terms of Nietzsche’s ‘two castes’ it might be worthwhile to recall something from Blake’s “Marriage of Heaven and Hell”

        “The Giants who formed this world into its sensual existence and now seem to live in it in chains; are in truth the causes of its life & the sources of all activity, but the chains are, the cunning of weak and tame minds, which have power to resist energy, according to the proverb, the weak in courage is strong in cunning.

        Thus one portion of being, is the Prolific, the other, the Devouring: to the devourer it seems as if the producer was in his chains, but it is not so, he only takes portions of existence and fancies that the whole.

        But the Prolific would cease to be the Prolific unless the Devourer as a sea received the excess of his delights.

        Some will say, Is not God alone the Prolific? I answer, God only Acts & Is, in existing beings or Men.

        These two classes of men are always upon the earth, & they should be enemies; whoever tries to reconcile them seeks to destroy existence.

        Religion is an endeavour to reconcile the two.

        Note. Jesus Christ did not wish to unite but to separate them, as in the Parable of sheep and goats! & he says I came not to send Peace but a Sword.”

        What the Prolific? What the Devourer? In some sense, Nietzsche’s “overman” is this “sea” which devours. In other senses, the Prolific. Here again, the issue of coincidentia oppositorum and the action of enantiodromia (or ironic reversal) that seems typical of Nietzsche’s thinking, too. In abstract, formal economic terms, however, and through a forced and artificial division of labour, this relationship between the Prolific and the Devouring has become cast in terms of “producer” and “consumer” as fixed roles.

        In fact, we don’t have “individuals” at all. What we celebrate as “individuality” is, in fact, only the assigned roles, and so confuse role and individual.

    • Blinkenlights der Gutenberg April 20, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      You should read Corey’s book (“The Reactionary Mind”). It demonstrates the continuity between those “pre-industrial” ideas and modern conservatism.

      Also, related: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudsill_theory

      And I’ll just go ahead and quote Senator Calhoun while I’m at it:

      “[...] there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other. Broad and general as is this assertion, it is fully borne out by history. This is not the proper occasion, but, if it were, it would not be difficult to trace the various devices by which the wealth of all civilized communities has been so unequally divided, and to show by what means so small a share has been allotted to those by whose labor it was produced, and so large a share given to the non-producing classes. The devices are almost innumerable, from the brute force and gross superstition of ancient times, to the subtle and artful fiscal contrivances of modern.”

      Subtle and artful fiscal contrivances, indeed.

      • Scott Preston April 20, 2013 at 11:32 am #

        Speaking of artful contrivances…. the parable of sheep and goats omits another relationship — that between good shepherd and big, bad wolf. But the “good” shepherd and the evil wolf have identical interests in the sheep and the goats — how to fleece and devour them.

      • Benjamin David Steele April 21, 2013 at 5:19 am #

        Yeah, I have read his book. That is what originally brought me here to his website. His book is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a while. A very unique view that mad me think about conservatism in a new way.

        There does seem to be a continuity of intentionally created and maintained inequality, both economic and political. Whatever system work to achieve that end will be used by those who want power and wealth concentrated in their own hands. Class is a natural result of this as power and wealth are inherited across generations and spread across extended and interrelated/intermarried families and kin groups.

        Ideology, used as a justification for inequality, will always be a force of propaganda, apologetics and sophistry. We think of capitalism as modern, but there were significant capitalist elemts used in feudalist and slaveholding societies of the past. It’s no accident that many of the founding fathers sought to base our own capitalist slaveholding society on the proto-capitalist slaveholding republics of the ancient world. There is a perfect continuity from one to the other. It is the thread running through all of Western civilization.

        None of this should be surprising or controversial. There are no grounds for disagreement on this simplest of issues. A person can argue whether the theory of reactionary conservatism is the correct interpretation, but the phenomenon itself is what it is.

    • edward scott April 20, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

      I’d agree. Thanks

    • edward scott April 21, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      Scott, I read what was available in your link to The Tower and the Abyss. It echoes the idea that people tend to become what they believe they are. This thought, for me, was partly illustrated by Freud’s exposition of Id, Ego, Super Ego and The Unconscious, the embodiment of American common sense, until recently. It seemed that no matter how complicated this analysis it can’t express the full extent of the human psychic, and when absorbed into common understanding, somehow makes people less, not more.
      Of course this type of insight has different applications, in as much as anything that is explained is limited by the explanation, thus becoming less. This works in tandem with emotions. For example, recalling the movie Shindler’s List, an objection was the emotional release offered by the movie also released one from subtle life changing realizations and thus perverted true apprehension, is a valid argument. It’s an argument applied in many ways to different things.
      Yet, the human psychic is malleable. It’s vulnerable to those who push the right buttons. I doubt that primitive or any other human culture was different in this regard.
      Benjamin Steel’s comments above resonate with my sensibilities. His comments seemed right on, so far.

    • Richard Schroeder April 21, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      I was about to make the same point you made, almost word for word (that both N and H sound like the defenders of slavery in the 1850’s here – we need a class of sub-humans to do the dirty work so that society can be free to pursue more humane endeavors, and that this division enables society itself. I was also going to point out that this trope had even been used in ancient Rome and Greece with respect to their slaves.), but then I read your post. I agree entirely, and I think you hit the nail on the head Mr. Steele.

  5. Scott Preston April 19, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    Corey… I think you should stop everything right now and, before proceeding in this manner, read Erich Kahler’s Chapter 6 of his The Tower and the Abyss, which does an excellent job of placing Nietzsche’s concerns about value in historical context. Chapter 6 is called “Man Without Values”, and most of it is available on-line at

    http://books.google.ca/books?id=jNIOQgWeIPEC&pg=PA184&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

    After all, this situation of “man without values” is Nietzsche’s definitive concern, isn’t it? The problem of nihilism.

    • Jacob April 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

      Maybe you should stop. Nietzsche is a multidimensional figure subject to social/economic interpretations just as much as the mystical one you favor so much.

      • Scott Preston April 20, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

        I don’t know what’s “mystical” about nihilism. In any event, what is dismissed as the “mystical” in one age, becomes the “common sense” of another.

  6. kylejanderson April 21, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    It would seem to me that academics constitute just such a “leisure class”–as Hayek intends the phrase, at least.

    • edward scott April 21, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      Scott, I read what was available in your link to The Tower and the Abyss. It echoes the idea that people tend to become what they believe they are. This thought, for me, was partly illustrated by Freud’s exposition of Id, Ego, Super Ego and The Unconscious, the embodiment of American common sense, until recently. It seemed that no matter how complicated this analysis it can’t express the full extent of the human psychic, and when absorbed into common understanding, somehow makes people less, not more.
      Of course this type of insight has different applications, in as much as anything that is explained is limited by the explanation, thus becoming less. This works in tandem with emotions. For example, recalling the movie Shindler’s List, an objection was the emotional release offered by the movie also released one from subtle life changing realizations and thus perverted true apprehension, is a valid argument. It’s an argument applied in many ways to different things.
      Yet, the human psychic is malleable. It’s vulnerable to those who push the right buttons. I doubt that primitive or any other human culture was different in this regard.
      Benjamin Steel’s comments above resonate with my sensibilities. His comments seemed right on, so far.

      • Scott Preston April 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

        Kahler’s The Tower and the Abyss: An Inquiry into the Transformation of Man is one of the most interesting and engaging books I’ve read, and which I plan to re-read many times.

        Still, it’s something of a riddle and puzzle to me that the central concerns and issues of the men of his generation — those who had experienced the catastrophe of the period 1914 – 1945 — were not picked up and carried forward by scholars of the subsequent generation. I can name those scholars I’m familiar with whose observations and diagnoses of the times are persuasively and remarkably similar — Gabriel Marcel, Rene Guenon, Rosenstock-Huessy, Jean Gebser, Pitrim Sorokin, Erich Kahler. Their own shock and trauma, their own attempts to account for the meaning of the period 1914-1945 within the broader historical context, seems not to be the concern of subsequent scholarship, say after 1973 with the deaths of both Rosenstock and Gebser. Were their views and interpretations, then, time-bound and time-delimited? Have social and historical events developed such that they have become obsolete or proven wrong?

        Over all of them lurks the shadow of Nietzsche, even when he is rarely invoked by name. In the case of Rosenstock-Huessy, the attempt to develop a “post-Nietzschean” philosophy and theology, not because he thought Nietzsche was wrong, but he thought Nietzsche was all-too right. He even claimed that his own “grammatical method” satisfied Nietzsche’s requirements for a “gay science”.

        Maybe their time is past. Or, maybe it’s the case that their time is not yet come, and that the ears to hear what they have to say aren’t born yet.

  7. Scott Preston April 21, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    The real question to put before Nietzsche is not the relationship of this or that part of his philosophy or psychology to the theories of certain economists, whether it serves to buttress their views or has been merely selectively misappropriated.

    The real question to put to Nietzsche is, from whence does he derive his confidence that the human race is on the brink of a major evolutionary discontinuity, one that will propel it into an entirely new level of existence, experience, and perceptual functioning — the transhuman?

    It is not just his confidence, either. Whether this “transhuman” type comes as William Blake’s “Albion”, Jean Gebser’s Integral Man, or Aurobindo’s Supra-mental Man — they are all anticipating much the same general development or “mutation”, not just as some eccentric personal possession or aberration. They all follow a remarkably similar path — Blake’s more poetic depiction of the Earth groaning in convulsions giving birth, or Nietzche’s “two centuries of nihilism”, or Gebser’s “global catastrophe” — passage through the crucible — the intensity of the anticipated discontinuity or transmutation is anticipated with an air of the apocalyptic and as shattering revelation, or what Erich Kahler calls “the destruction of the human form”, but which Gebser otherwise refers to as “an essential restructuration” or as “irruption”.

    The deeper the delusions, the more shattering the revelations — that is the principle. The received and evolved institutions and ideologies – economic, political, religious, cultural, the “common sense”, even the definition of “human” — no longer serve to fulfill the deeper wordless aspirations, but frustrate them, inhibit their effective realisation and in blind rage and fury these energies will rise up (“irrupt” in Gebser’s terms) and destroy those institutions.

    That is, in any case, the gist of Nietzsche’s notion of creative destruction, and it’s not the tame stuff of the free market economists who merely play the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

    • Scott Preston April 21, 2013 at 11:15 am #

      For what it’s worth, by the way, Heraclitus identified Dionysos as Hades — a not insignificant detail when it comes to Nietzsche’s discipleship. “Hades and Dionysos are one and the same, for whom they rage and celebrate their Lenaea” — Heraclitus.

  8. Corey Robin April 21, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Montinari: You write, “‘the caste compelled to work and the caste that works if it wants to’. None of this necessarily suggests capital. Caste ≠ class. Even the old feudal order of estates differed greatly from modern class society. Estate ≠ class. Categories like these seem to indicate premodern (i.e., precapitalist) societies. Moreover, there have been people in society who haven’t had to work for a living for millennia. It does not follow that these “idle rich” were capitalists. The clergy and aristocracy in precapitalist times did not have to work; the former prayed while the latter fought. Even if they’d been speaking about classes, this still doesn’t explain ‘capital.’ A category like ‘capital’ is utterly foreign to Nietzsche’s philosophy, whether or not he read works of political economy. To suggest otherwise is both anachronistic and irresponsible.”

    I meant to respond sooner, my apologies. At first, I was going to explain that my reference to capital was much more directed at Hayek rather than Nietzsche. Many of H’s defenders try to say that he’s talking about in these pages an independent leisured aristocracy, not the bourgeoisie or capital, and I wanted to make point — as he clearly does — that he is talking about men with capital. So it wasn’t meant to apply to N so much as H.

    That said, I think you go way too far when you draw such a sharp distinction between the castes of pre-modern societies v. the classes of modern societies. N himself often actually tries to blur that distinction, even as he makes that distinction.

    So in the section that immediately follows his “Culture and caste” section in HAH, N writes, “That in which men and women of the nobility excel others and which give them an undoubted right to be rated higher consists in two arts ever more enhanced through inheritance: the art of commanding and the art of proud obedience.—Now wherever commanding is part of the business of the day (as in the great mercantile and industrial world) there arises something similar to those families ‘of the nobility’, but they lack nobility in obedience, which is in the former an inheritance from the feudal ages and will no longer grow in our present cultural climate.” (§ 440) (Incidentally, I don’t see anything in this passage that would suggest the concept of capital was foreign to him; indeed, in other passages in other texts, he’s quite critical of capitalists, so it’s hard to see how the idea was unknown to him.)

    In §479 of HAH, he writes, “Wealth necessarily engenders an aristocracy of race, for it permits one to select the fairest women, pay the best teachers, grants to a man cleanliness, time for physical exercises, and above all freedom from deadening physical labour. To this extent it creates all the conditions for the production over a few generations of a noble and fair demeanour, even noble and fair behavior, in men: greater freedom of feeling, the absence of the wretched and petty, of abasement before breadgivers, of penny-pinching.” From the context, it doesn’t seem like he’s talking about pre-modern elites here. If anything it suggests he’s talking about contemporary capitalists b/c he criticizes these elites for thinking that they need an excess of wealth to achieve these results, when he thinks they don’t.

    There’s also a passage in The Gay Science (§ 40) “On the lack of noble manners.” There he criticizes the contemporary bourgeoisie for not being a true ruling class, for generating resentment among workers. But what makes them not a true ruling class? Only their lack of manners, the way they carry themselves. And he wonders, “If the nobility of birth showed in their eyes and gestures, there might not be any socialism of the masses.”

    This was just off the top of my head; there’s more. What I take from this is: a) Nietzsche was certainly aware of what we would call capitalists — he speaks of industrialists, entrepreneurs, businessmen, and employers. b) While N was a huge critic of this class — something I’ve written about many a time — he also at times played with the idea of them as a successor class to the pre-modern nobility. In another passage in The Gay Science (§31), he even imagines a time when commercial life will become so rare — like hunting in the Middle Ages — that the market, which he believes has come to dominate the modern age, will itself become a sign of a higher nobility. All of which is to say that I think it’s wrong to simply assume he’s not talking about modern capitalist societies here; that when he thinks of the categories of idle, he’s not talking about capitalists but rather clergy or other categories of leisure.

    • Corey Robin April 21, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

      Actually, it occurs to me on a second read of your comment and my response that you might have thought I meant by “capital” strictly the category of money that is invested to yield more money. So the idea that that would govern — in the way Marx’s emphasis on the abstraction of capital might suggest — would seem very foreign to Nietzsche. Is that you thought I meant or where your question derived from? If so, that makes sense. I don’t think N has a sense of capital in that sense. I was using “capital” in the sense of “the man of capital,” not quite the abstraction of capital. Anyway, if that’s where the confusion lies, my apologies.

      • Ross Wolfe April 23, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

        Yes, that’s the sense in which I meant it. “Capital” as self-augmenting value requires the mediation of labor, typically wage-labor, but the dynamics of this process of valorization were opaque to Nietzsche, to say the least. Or, even if he did have a thorough knowledge of them, it wasn’t at all central to the different points he was trying to make.

        The distinction between traditional castes or estates, which are defined legally and politically, versus modern classes, which are defined socially and economically, is often lost on latter-day critics of capitalism. Capitalism’s radical novelty and inherent dynamism is lost on them. Admittedly, this is sometimes the result of Marx’s casual use of loose, untechnical language in his more popular expositions. He lays it out fairly clearly in The German Ideology, however:

        By the mere fact that it is a class and no longer an estate, the bourgeoisie is forced to organise itself no longer locally, but nationally, and to give a general form to its mean average interest. Through the emancipation of private property from the community, the State has become a separate entity, beside and outside civil society; but it is nothing more than the form of organisation which the bourgeois necessarily adopt both for internal and external purposes, for the mutual guarantee of their property and interests.

        And a year later in his polemic against Proudhon in The Poverty of Philosophy:

        Does [the victory of the proletariat] mean that after the fall of the old society there will be a new class domination culminating in a new political power? No.

        The condition for the emancipation of the working class is the abolition of every class, just as the condition for the liberation of the third estate, of the bourgeois order, was the abolition of all estates and all orders.

        Engels specifies this in a footnote to the 1885 edition:

        Estates here in the historical sense of the estates of feudalism, estates with definite and limited privileges. The revolution of the bourgeoisie abolished the estates and their privileges. Bourgeois society knows only classes. It was, therefore, absolutely in contradiction with history to describe the proletariat as the “fourth estate.”

  9. Corey Robin April 21, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

    Scott Preston: I appreciate your extensive reading in and around the Nietzsche archive, but I have to echo what other people here have said: much if not all of what you write here seems like little more than a parade of learning, which never speaks directly to the issues I’ve raised — except by diversion or denial.

    • Scott Preston April 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

      You haven’t raised any issues. So far, you’ve proceeded only by way of insinuation, by a simple juxtaposition of select quotes. You haven’t yet made a statement about those connections. So what’s a poor boy to do?

      Are you trying to infer that Nietzsche’s paternal DNA is all over neo-liberalism? That won’t work in the end. Nietzsche is an aristocratic radical, not a plutocrat. His ideal type, Goethe, is not commensurate with the type “Jamie Dimon” or the like crowd of those who have set themselves up upon “the commanding heights” as the present “masters of the universe.”

      I could probably just as well juxtapose quotes from William Blake with Friedrich Nietzsche and someone may well come to a very contrary impression of Nietzsche. For, as yet, I don’t see the point or aim in any of this.

      • Corey Robin April 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

        Interesting. I haven’t made a statement about those connections, yet you’ve spent a huge amount of airtime arguing against my statement about those connections. In any event, I actually have made several statements about those connections: a quick review of the various comments threads would yield some of them — and would spare you the embarrassment of thinking you’re scoring points when you write, “Are you trying to infer that Nietzsche’s paternal DNA is all over neo-liberalism? That won’t work in the end. Nietzsche is an aristocratic radical, not a plutocrat.”

      • Scott Preston April 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

        Actually, Corey, it was you who equated “idle” and “rich”, where that doesn’t occur in Nietzsche — leastwise, not in any of the quotes you offer and none I can recollect off hand. Having independent means which relieves one of the necessity of labour is, of course, the hope of every artist or creative type who does not want their creativity to be “compromised” (a favourite word) or prostituted. And just such types have been on occasion preserved through patronage and sponsorship because their creativity was valued, and it was desired that they should be sustained in that creativity. Being a man of “independent means” does not necessarily imply being rich. Goethe received a court appointment and a title because it was desired that this highly creative type of man should be sustained and preserved.

        If moneyed men have power, and can form a plutocracy, it is because most people still believe in the power of money and fall under its spell. But that has nothing to do with Nietzsche.

      • Benjamin David Steele April 21, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

        I don’t mean to get involved in the disagreement between you two. In speaking for myself, I did notice some connection to what I was writing about:

        “Actually, Corey, it was you who equated “idle” and “rich”, where that doesn’t occur in Nietzsche — leastwise, not in any of the quotes you offer and none I can recollect off hand.”

        I doubt most self-identified aristocrats, elites and masters ever equate “idle” and “rich”. The Virginia slaveholding aristocrats didn’t make such an equation. They saw it as the the social duty of an aristocrat to refuse to remain idle. That was the moral justification for their possessing greater power over everyone else. They assumed their lessers were lazy and would seek idleness, but not an aristocrat worthy of that status.

        “Being a man of “independent means” does not necessarily imply being rich.”

        This doesn’t directly relate to my original comment, but I think it is part of the same package. The inegalitarian vision of class or caste division is not just based on a wealthy class but also all those beholden to the wealthy class. When possible, the wealthy class will always seek to make as many people beholden to them as possible. In the case of the lower classes/castes, they’ll keep people beholden through servitude, debt, fear of poverty and homelessness, threats of violence or punishment, etc. In the case of the creative classes/castes, they’ll keep them beholden through patronage, threats of censorship, etc.

        “If moneyed men have power, and can form a plutocracy, it is because most people still believe in the power of money and fall under its spell. But that has nothing to do with Nietzsche.”

        That might be a useful point or not. I suspect that few people are aware of believing in the power of money and falling under its spell. This goes back to my distinction between reasons as justification/rationalization and often unconscious motivations. The question isn’t necessarily about Nietzsche’s stated beliefs and vision. Rather, the question is how Nietzsche’s stated beliefs and vision may or may not have played into the plans of those promoting an inegalitarian society.

      • Scott Preston April 21, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

        “The free development of the personality” — that may well be Nietzsche’s purpose, but then every liberal, conservative, and socialist has proclaimed that as their ideal and justification as well, and as being the essential ideal of all real democracy — at least, as lip-service. In Nietzsche, of course, it appears as “the free spirit”.

        Marx espoused the same ideal, however. He simply denounced the liberals and conservatives as hypocrites because the proletariat and labourer was systemically excluded from participation in this “free development of the personality” — they were consigned instead to be quantity, mass, number, class, collective, productive “forces” on par with their natural and impersonal elder brothers — water, electricity, fire, etc. The working “stiff” because their lifetime was rigidly structured. As I’m sure you know, liberation from this condition of quantification, number, massification, collectivisation or “stiffness” was Marx’s ultimate objective. And it was a noble one, unfortunately perverted by the Marxists who made a fetish of “the masses” and made new idols of the collective nouns “Capital” and “Labour”, who are the old gods — Pluto and Vulcan — under new secular names.

        Marx’s ideal was also leisure, and leisure for the same purpose –the free development of the personality (not always a pleasant undertaking, as Nietzsche noted).

        Ultimately, Nietzsche and Marx converge, although it’s not evident at first blush because Nietzsche’s insistence on “two castes” or classes appears to contradict Marx’s “classless” society.

  10. Benjamin David Steele April 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    The Mudsill theory is a clear expression of the worldview of those who see themselves as a master class, equally applicable to a political, economic or intellectual master class:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudsill_theory

    “Many saw the argument as a weak justification for exploitation, and a flimsy example of creating your own science to reference as proof.[2] An obvious flaw lies in that there are no indications as to which class or race rightfully belongs to the mudsill other than the pre-supposed regional groups that were already in place at the “bottom”, causing a circular argument.”

    The circularity of it the central dynamic, but it is also what undermines it. As Corey Robin notes, in his book, reactionary conservatives form by challenging the previous master class. They don’t challenge the ideal of a master class. They want a new and improved master class which, of course, includes them. It’s a power grab.

    The problem with justifying your power as a master class is that there are always others to challenge you based on the claim that you’re unworthy to play that role. Southern master class rhetoric was in a pickle when they lost the war and so lost their master class role. According to their own circular rhetoric, their now being on the bottom was proof that they deserved to be on the bottom. But that was unacceptable for they couldn’t let go of the ideal of a master class.

    The problem with the master class vision of society, even in the form of an intellectual genius creative class, is that being a circular justification it is forced to be its own justification. Such a justification inevitably is propagandistic and must be enforced on the entire population. In modern society, Chomsky describes this in terms of the theory of the propaganda model (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_model) which includes but isn’t limited to state-sponsored propaganda. The Propaganda model is particularly important to the intellectual master class because of the close link between intellectuals, the media and the education system.

    The challenge to the master class obviously comes from outside their own circular justification and propaganda. Democracy, especially as a value system, has been the greatest challenge. Social democracy in particular is built on lessening inequality. What the master class can’t avoid is the fact that all the data we have proves their vision is dysfunctional. The larger inequality gets, the greater the social problems become: violence, crime, disease, poverty, under-education, etc. With all the research that has been done and all the data that has been gathered, this is no longer an issue that can be debated. Large inequalities, the very basis of the Mudsill theory, is dysfunctional and detrimental. This includes toward the master class itself since all classes are negatively effected by the increase of social problems, effected directly by violence and crime while effected indirectly by increase of social costs for dealing with the problems.

    No visionary genius is going to save us. No elite political class is going to solve our problems. No capitalist ‘makers’ are going to drive us toward a happy future. Change that is truly transformative necessarily comes from the bottom up. Even reactionary conservatives realize that outsiders are needed to reinvigorate a decadent and stagnated system, but the problem with reactionary conservatives is that without realizing it they seek to create a new decadent and stagnated system.

    Even revolutionary communists seeking to create a communist state have fallen to the prey of reactionary conservatism. There is a reason why communist statism has been embraced by societies such as the Chinese and Russians, both very socially conservative. These communist statists wanted to create a communist master class, but the end isn’t so much different than capitalist statists or slaveholding statists. the only difference is where the power and wealth is concentrated, not whether it is concentrated. This is why it was so easy for Russian to become capitalist again and so easy for China to become fascist. The ideological rhetoric and outward political forms are ultimately superficial.

    This is where social democracy and democratic socialism are different to the large-scale examples we have of capitalism and communism. This is the same reason the Virginian enlightened aristocracy failed.

  11. Corey Robin April 21, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Scott Preston, just one among many (again, already quoted in comments thread; you’d really benefit from actually reading the people you claim to be engaging with): “Wealth necessarily engenders an aristocracy of race, for it permits one to select the fairest women, pay the best teachers, grants to a man cleanliness, time for physical exercises, and above all freedom from deadening physical labour. To this extent it creates all the conditions for the production over a few generations of a noble and fair demeanour, even noble and fair behavior, in men: greater freedom of feeling, the absence of the wretched and petty, of abasement before breadgivers, of penny-pinching.” (Human, All Too Human, §479)

    • Scott Preston April 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

      Does wealth, therefore, confer and endow nobility?

      • Benjamin David Steele April 21, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

        No. However, the wealthy have the power to enforce their definition of nobility onto the rest of society through the corporate MSM and/or state propaganda. So, in a sense, the wealthy confer and endow nobility upon themselves. Anyone who disagrees with that won’t likely be heard or given the time of day in the mainstream society dominated by the agenda and interests of the ruling elite.

      • Jacob April 21, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

        It does, according to Nietzsche.

  12. Bill April 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    One aspect of the Nietzsche-Goethe connection that lots of people forget: in addition to everything else, Nietzsche admired Goethe for being one of the most prominent German intellectuals at the time to oppose the French Revolution.

    From Twilight of the Idols, 46:

    “I still hate Rousseau in the French Revolution: it is the world-historical expression of this duality of idealist and rabble. The bloody farce which became an aspect of the Revolution, its “immorality,” is of little concern to me: what I hate is its Rousseauan morality — the so-called “truths” of the Revolution through which it still works and attracts everything shallow and mediocre. The doctrine of equality! There is no more poisonous poison anywhere: for it seems to be preached by justice itself, whereas it really is the termination of justice. “Equal to the equal, unequal to the unequal” — that would be the true slogan of justice; and also its corollary: “Never make equal what is unequal.” That this doctrine of equality was surrounded by such gruesome and bloody events, that has given this “modern idea” par excellence a kind of glory and fiery aura so that the Revolution as a spectacle has seduced even the noblest spirits. In the end, that is no reason for respecting it any more. I see only one man who experienced it as it must be experienced, with nausea — Goethe.”

    • ed scott April 23, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      Bill, the quote gives us a good insight into Nietzsch’s thinking, if he doesn’t contradict himself somewhere else. I looked the quote up. My reference was 48, entitled “Progress in my sense”
      The first part of this selection attacks Rousseau in a psychoanalytical manner ( seemingly characteristic of Nietzsche’s mode of thought) which puts me on guard as to wether the charge “sick with unbridled vanity and unbridled self-contempt” could not also describe the psychoanalyze -er.
      I realize you were just pointing out the link with Goeth, but the “equality” notion is tempting. I’d say Neitzsche completely missed the sense (meaning) of Rousseau’s “equality”, that it’s enlightened thought wether or not Rousseau was psychologically “sick”, just as the value of Neitzsche’s contributions to thought may have been depended on a unnatural balance of neuro-transmissions. I understand he was a great walker.

  13. Corey Robin April 24, 2013 at 12:50 am #

    Given that the author of this comment above — “The distinction between traditional castes or estates, which are defined legally and politically, versus modern classes, which are defined socially and economically, is often lost on latter-day critics of capitalism. Capitalism’s radical novelty and inherent dynamism is lost on them. Admittedly, this is sometimes the result of Marx’s casual use of loose, untechnical language in his more popular expositions.” — seems to have multiple and ever changing identities, I’m not sure to whom my response should be addressed. In any event, one needn’t invoke Marx or Engels to explain the difference between classes and castes or legally prescribed estates. It’s obvious. The point though is that Nietzsche himself wasn’t making these hard and fast distinctions, as I’ve already shown, and that he certainly didn’t understand caste, or the nobility, in strictly legal terms. What’s more, the notion that those legal orders and estates, with all their privileges, had been abolished by the bourgeois revolutions of the 19th century or by the rise of capitalism is simply wrong. Throughout Europe, up to the First World War, upper legislative houses, which were composed of the titular nobility and the church, wielded tremendous political power, routinely vetoing legislation of the lower houses. Up to 1905, more than 1/2 of all Cabinet appointments in Britain came from the nobility (and up until 1916 it was 49%). In Eastern and Central Europe, including Germany, the monarchy with the support of the aristocracy dissolved parliaments, declared states of emergency, controlled foreign policy, and more. Bourgeois capitalism coexisted with this matrix of feudal powers and privileges. In fact, this is why Schumpeter insisted that capitalism had been built on the “steel frame” of the aristocracy. So it made all the sense in the world for even someone like Nietzsche — who as I’ve said loathed the bourgeoisie — to think of the two camps (the aristocracy and the capitalist) not as Marx/Engels did, as emblems of successive ages of history, but as nested orders, and to play with the idea that some sort of modest and healthy feudalization of the bourgeoisie might occur.

  14. christofpierson May 17, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    Reblogged this on Tragic Farce and commented:
    Corey Robin, whose Nation piece on Nietzsche and Hayek I referred to here, posted this comparison of the two thinkers’ ideas on class on his own blog. They support his contention that Hayek was more in tune with Nietzschean philosophy than commonly supposed. Whatever you think of Robin’s thesis, it is instructive at least to see the contempt or, at least, casual dismissal of the worth of the working class in Hayek’s musings.

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