The nature of global contest : will-to-power and Nietzsche's international politics.


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Though known for its sweeping and encompassing character, Nietzsche’s thought has had little influence in the field of international politics. This is striking given the frequency with which Nietzsche writes not only of nations, but of the significance of their relationships. To address this deficit, as well as foster new and productive engagement with Nietzsche within the field of international politics, the following study articulates what I understand to be the theory of international politics implied by, and operating within, Nietzsche’s philosophy. Beginning with Nietzsche’s foundational theory of will-to-power, I detail its relationship to human flourishing as understood by Nietzsche, and the importance of social constructions: Nietzsche considers culture, society, and even the state as natural human creations intended to aid man in establishing life-enhancing relationships with the primal forces of life as articulated in the theory of will-to-power. But of equal importance with respect to human flourishing is the international system within which such domestic energies and associations operate: I argue that Nietzsche conceives of the international system as an essential arena in which those life-enhancing agonistic struggles between culturally distinct populations deemed necessary for human flourishing are able to occur on a grand and far more consequential scale. Furthermore, I demonstrate the ways in which Nietzsche sees international politics becoming only more central to mankind’s future following the Death of God: Western man’s two-millennia long physiological transformation, combined with a civilizational post-God cultural exhaustion lead Nietzsche to view the coming age as one defined by global conflicts over the future of the species. Informed by analysis of these and other key concepts, I articulate a naturally emergent model of international politics: aristocratic in character, the center of such politics is cultural vitality rather than material power, with communities struggling against one another in pursuit of creative energy. I conclude by situating this model among the dominant theories within the field of international politics, and discuss at length its implications regarding liberalism and the current standards of international morality.



Nietzsche. International politics. Will-to-power.