Nietzsche on the Situation in Greece

On the Genealogy of Morals:

The debtor made a contract with the creditor and pledged that if he should fail to repay he would substitute something else that he “possessed,” something he had control over; for example, his body, his wife, his freedom…

Let us be clear as to the logic of this form of compensation: it is strange enough. An equivalence is provided by the creditor’s receiving, in place of a literal compensation for an injury (thus in place of money, land, possessions of any kind), a recompense in the form of a kind of pleasure—the pleasure of being allowed to vent his power freely upon one who is powerless, the voluptuous pleasure “de faire le mal pour le plaisir de le faire [of doing evil for the pleasure of doing it],” the enjoyment of violation….In “punishing” the debtor, the creditor participates in a right of the masters….The compensation, then, consists in a warrant for and title to cruelty.”


  1. yastreblyansky July 8, 2015 at 7:48 pm | #

    Don’t understand why nobody has brought up the Merchant of Venice and Portia’s argument (you can have your pound of flesh but no blood and you’d better not fuck it up).

  2. lightbringer777909 July 8, 2015 at 7:50 pm | #

    wow…..thats an apt description of the result of credit itself.

    the real key i suppose is whether the debtor decides to exercise his right.

    isnt it odd then….how one cannot do certain things he/she has to do without credit in modern times?

  3. John Maher July 8, 2015 at 8:10 pm | #

    Do you are saying via Nietzsche that the neoliberal state is one big s&m social contract With no safe word?

  4. Daniel Buk July 8, 2015 at 8:40 pm | #

    What would you say to Nietzsche’s other emphasis on resilience in the face of risk, and his affirmation of amor fati? I.e., European creditors knew the risks, and leant their money anyway, “even in the face of fate”? I don’t really know if Nietzsche would confine qualities of the creditor-debtor relationship in a such narrow dichotomy. Why would he not imbue the same redemptive or strengthening qualities of pain on the creditors [i.e., the pain inflicted on the creditors upon default]? In his formulation of amor fati, he obviously says the ability to withstand pain in the ace of fate is an attribute of the master. Why don’t you see any room for that to translate into the creditor standing by his choice to lend in the first place, affirming his/her risk even in the face of their debtors’ default, and growing stronger from facing his pain?

    This was more verbose than necessary, but I hope you understand my question.

  5. Daniel Buk July 8, 2015 at 8:46 pm | #

    And I know he changes his mind on the following, but he sporadically attributes the ability to forgive to the strength of the master, which in turn here could apply to the ability to affirm life through the forgetfulness of the child [i.e., “forgetting” Greece’s debt], and it is this that he more or less consistently affirms throughout his entire work.

  6. John Maher July 8, 2015 at 10:10 pm | #

    Perhaps, following Nietsche’s great interlocutor Foucault, the sovereign is now the one who has the exclusive power to ‘give debt relief’.

  7. Mr. Beer N. Hockey July 8, 2015 at 10:26 pm | #

    The neo-liberal state is a big s&m contract without a safe word. I direct you to a fabulous bit of philosophy called “Nightmare on Main Street” by Mark Edmundson if you wish to see how this has been playing out for the past couple centuries or so.

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