Sean Illing talks with political science professor Matt McManus about the political thought of Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th-century German philosopher with a complicated legacy, despite his crossover into popular culture. They discuss how Nietzsche's work has been interpreted — and misinterpreted — since his death in 1900, how his radical political views emerge from his body of work, and how we can use Nietzsche's philosophy in order to interpret some key features of our contemporary politics.
Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
Guest: Matt McManus (@MattPolProf), lecturer, University of Michigan; author
Referenced works by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900):
Ecce Homo (1888; published posthumously), Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883), Beyond Good and Evil (1886), Twilight of the Idols (1888), The Birth of Tragedy (1872), The Antichrist (1888; published posthumously), The Gay Science (1882)
Nietzsche and the Politics of Reaction: Essays on Liberalism, Socialism, and Aristocratic Radicalism, ed. Matthew McManus (Palgrave; 2023)
The Political Right and Equality: Turning Back the Tide of Egalitarian Modernity by Matthew McManus (Routledge; forthcoming)
Nietzsche's Great Politics by Hugo Drochon (Princeton; 2016)
Nietzsche's Letter to Georg Brandes (Dec. 2, 1887)
Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist by Walter Kaufmann (Princeton; 2013)
“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?” from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, §125 (1882; tr. W. Kaufmann)
"Atheist bus campaign spreads the word of no God nationwide" by Riazat Butt (The Guardian; Jan. 6, 2009)
"Since Copernicus man has been rolling from the center toward X," from Nietzsche's The Will To Power, published posthumously in 1901.
Immanuel Kant, Metaphysics of Morals (1797)
Kierkegaard's Attack Upon "Christendom", 1854-1855 (tr. Walter Lowrie)
Nietzsche, the Aristocratic Rebel by Domenico Losurdo (Brill; 2019)
Joseph de Maistre, Considerations on France (1797)
"Does Liberalism Mean Supporting Communism?" by Matthew McManus (Liberal Currents; Jan. 4, 2022)
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1963)
United States of Socialism by Dinesh D'Souza (All Points; 2020)
"The alt-right is drunk on bad readings of Nietzsche. The Nazis were too" by Sean Illing (Vox; Dec. 30, 2018)
The Third Reich series by Richard J. Evans
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (1957)
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Producer: Erikk Geannikis
Engineer: Patrick Boyd
Editorial Director, Vox Talk: A.M. Hall
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