Nietzsche on Power and Democracy circa 1876-1881

Paul Patton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


My aim in this chapter is to elaborate and explore a conception of democratic political organization of society that has its roots in Nietzsche’s writings during the late 1870s and early 1880s. These include the three sets of aphorisms that make up the complete version of Human, All Too Human, which were published separately between 1878 and 1880, along with Daybreak published in 1881.1There are several reasons for focusing on this relatively restricted period of Nietzsche’s work: first, while it is true that he offered a range of opinions towards democracy over the course of his writing career, many of them critical,his remarks during this period include some of his most favourable judgments on democratic political organization.2His attitude is nuanced and includes criticism of existing forms of democracy as well as support for many of its ideals.He viewed the democratic politics that was only beginning to take hold in Germany at this time as an irreversible and irresistible transformation in the political organization of society, with both positive and negative consequences.While he is clearly critical of the demagogic character of party politics and of the political judgment of many of those whom the parties seek to win over,this is criticism of the organizations and of the people who make up the nascent European democracies with which he was familiar. It is not criticism of the principles of democratic political association as such. Nietzsche was well aware that democratic society is a work in progress and happily drew a distinction between its present forms and those of a democracy “yet to come” (HH I293).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNietzsche as Political Philosopher
EditorsManuel Knoll , Barry Stocker
Place of PublicationBerlin and Boston
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783110359459
ISBN (Print)9783110359367
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameNietzsche Today
ISSN (Print)2191-5741


  • PHILOSOPHY / Individual Philosophers
  • PHILOSOPHY / Movements / Existentialism
  • PHILOSOPHY / Political
  • Nietzsche
  • Power and Democracy
  • 1876–1881


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