Nietzsche a tyrant?

Alex asked:

Imagine if Nietzsche were put in charge of the World State, with absolute power to change or eliminate anything about that society. Which elements of the World State do you think he would change and how would he change them, and what would he leave the same? Explain fully and precisely making specific reference to Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ and to Nietzsche’s ideas.

Answer by Jürgen Lawrenz

Wherever you got this question from — your lecturer or examiner, or maybe your own day-dreaming? — it does not touch any tangent of Nietzsche’s thinking. In fact, it strikes me that the model behind this question is not Nietzsche, but Hitler. But we have at least one advantage today on the Nazis: We have identified the numerous forgeries in editions of Nietzsche’s works that were sanctioned by the fascist regime and managed to extricate ourselves from the doctrinal farrago that pre-WWII scholars had to contend with. Not the least of which is, that Nietzsche was not a Machiavellian.

So then: Can you imagine his Zarathustra ruling the world as an absolute monarch? Pretty posterous idea, I think. He wants people to heed his wake-up call. His century was decrepit, decadent, hopelessly enchained in rules for life that were fundamentally hostile to an authentic life and in the main compensated for by turning the average educated citizen into a philistine personality (Bildungsphilister, a vain and pompous moral monstrosity with a herd mentality). So we should make a start by refusing to adjudge the value of our life from the perspective of its end — the end is neither heaven nor hell, but death, which leaves nothing of us behind, apart from other people’s memories. Reframe life to a sense of responsibility in this life, which is our one golden opportunity to create value, to live authentically not only for oneself, but for everyone around us, family, friends, community etc. etc.

Now I ask you: what has this to do with some tyrant exercising world-encompassing power? I think you can answer this yourself: Coercion is not a value.

So I’m sorry to have to say this: But your question is loaded with presuppositions which recall the many inhumane regimes of history whose powers represented the curse of hell on earth; and they were not exactly the few! Whereas what all humans pray for, forever and forever in vain, is justice. And so to misquote Lord Acton: Power corrupts justice; and absolute power corrupts it absolutely. Let this serve as my one-sentence answer to your question.

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