The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 2, 2006

Social and Political Philosophy

Endre Kiss
Pages 59-63

Friedrich Nietzsche and Political Alternativity

Nietzsche's fundamental vision of modern democracy includes an essential aspect which many tend to neglect given the indelible historical experience with totalitarian systems of the twentieth century. "Irresistible" democracy, precisely on account of its triumphant progress, also sets the course for, or, to use another contemporary expression, instrumentalizes the activities of its very enemies. It is, to say the least, quite striking to read such a claim made by a philosopher whose work Alfred Baeumler and Georg Lukäcs have labelled as extreme political archaism, while for a long time no serious objection was raised against this absurd verdict. We can see that Nietzsche's universalistic approach assigns a definite place to democratic systems and also specifies why these systems are of special relevance for the universal-emancipatory development of humankind. By stating the prophylactic character of the democratic system in such a decisive fashion, Nietzsche reaches the very core of his philosophy. By doing so he differs markedly and positively from several other political philosophers. The difference lies in the fact that for Nietzsche a given political system is not an ultimate value or objective, but, as already mentioned, an opportunity to realize universal human ambitions. This is why his political philosophy establishes a principled distinction between various political systems while also evaluating them according to their prophylactic potential to be utilized for the purposes of universal-emancipatory development.