Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Monday, June 13, 2011

Leon Trotsky on Frederick Nietzsche

...We obviously make no claim to an exhaustive critique of the fantastic creations of Frederick Nietzsche, philosopher in poetry and poet in philosophy. This is impossible within the framework of a few newspaper articles. We only wanted to describe in broad strokes the social base which has shown itself to be capable of giving birth to Nietzscheism, not as a philosophical system contained in a certain number of volumes and for the most part explicable by the individual particularities of its author, but rather as a social current attracting particular attention because we are dealing with a current of the present time. It seemed to us to be all the more indispensable to bring Nietzscheism down from the literary and philosophical heights to the purely earthly basis of social relations because a strictly ideological attitude, conditioned by subjective reactions of sympathy or antipathy for the moral and other theses of Nietzsche, results in nothing good...
Leon Trotsky,'On the Philosophy of the Superman' (1900)

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At 6:14 pm, Blogger bat020 said...

Wow, that's really fascinating. Had no idea Trotsky ever wrote anything on Nietzsche. Always felt the two writers had a stylistic affinity (though not, of course, a political one).

It's interesting that he sees through both the bourgeois moralist anti-Nietzsche hysteria and the pro-Nietzsche aesthete cult that was already rapidly developing at the time of the philosopher's death (cf the reference towards the end to anarchist attempts at coöpting Nietzsche).

Also interesting that despite his trenchantly negative judgement, Trotsky takes care to distinguish between Nietzsche and Nietzscheans, and acknowledges the poetic contradictions in Nietzsche's work.

At 4:29 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

It's also quite remarkable an article given Trotsky was only about 21 years old at the time...

At 7:22 pm, Anonymous Grim and Dim said...

The young Serge also wrote on Nietzsche but i can't find it online anywhere.

At 8:08 pm, Blogger George said...

Thanks for this link. I've been trying to find an English translation of this Trotsky essay for ages. It’s amazing to think that this was written in 1900 and hasn't been available till now. And even the Marxist.org Trotsky archive doesn't provide a direct link. I think that only George Lukacs has provided a full in depth view of Nietzsche from a Marxist perspective. A lot more of this is needed since I think it would give a big insight into current capitalist ideology and its use of the pseudo rebel figure.


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