Friedrich Nietzsche stands as one of the most awe-inspiring, influential, and enigmatic thinkers of our time. His thinking is deeply complex, and for most, difficult to understand. Making matters worse, the profundity of this thought has been confounded further by less-than-scrupulous bad-faith actors, who have grossly misinterpreted and oftentimes manipulated his writings. However, Nietzsche’s obfuscation by means of intellectual complexity was deliberate, an engineered design to ward off lesser men. Nietzschean philosophy is that of potential, of the profound reverence of all things great, noble, heroic and the loathing of all things small, cowardly, and mediocre. As such, Nietzsche’s philosophical corpus is not meant for everyone, nor was it intended to be.
More to the point, his body of works calls for the elite of mankind to aspire to new heights of excellence and greatness, boldly daring us to “… not reject the hero in your soul! Keep holy your highest hope!”1 He despises artificial equality, denies that freedom is anything but a superiority in power, and, like the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, sees the desire for perpetual peace not only as being at odds with true nobility but also contrary to mankind’s nature. The totality of the Nietzschean worldview can be conceptualized thusly: “What is good?—All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man. What is bad?—All that proceeds from weakness. What is happiness?—The feeling that power increases—that a resistance is overcome. Not contentment, but more power; not peace at all, but war; not virtue, but proficiency (virtue in the Renaissance style, virtù, virtue free of moralic acid).”2 In essence, Nietzsche’s philosophy was the embodiment of aristocratism par excellence, and all other interpretations of him and his work are either puerile interpretations or intentional efforts to subvert and co-opt his transformative vision for a mankind reborn.
In an effort all too prevalent amidst the distortions of postmodernity and contemporary liberalism, a cadre of scholars, led most notably by the popular translator of Nietzsche’s work, Walter Kaufmann, has vigorously sought to undermine the quintessential nature of Nietzschean thought. Kaufmann himself was a philosopher of the humanistic school, and though his translatory prose was excellent, it is more often than not overly infused with his own liberal-humanistic worldview. With cunningly deceptive rhetoric and intricate yet ultimately facile postmodern reasoning, many of these so-called “scholars’” main aim is to willfully discard Nietzsche’s majestic aristocratic vision of a regenerated Europe, opting instead for a reinterpretation that aligns more closely with the ideological dogma of liberal humanism. In their pursuit, they seek to cast aside the disquieting elements of Nietzsche’s philosophical oeuvre that challenge the very foundations of liberal-humanistic beliefs, thereby presenting a diluted rendition of Nietzsche’s philosophy that conveniently conforms to their preferred metaphysical framework.
Most of these “scholars” assert that Nietzsche’s aristocratism, his inegalitarianism, and his deep-seated reverence for the competitive struggle of life, are literary devices, plain and simple. Moreover, they suggest that his many references to war, the Will to Power (German: Der Wille zur Macht), and the Overman (German: Übermensch) are but mere metaphors embodying a broader and more nuanced philosophical discourse, rather than an overt call for revolutionary civilizational transformation. Indeed, Nietzsche’s all-encompassing, aristocratic worldview, extending from the palpable realm of the literal to the profound depths of the metaphysical, is remarkably explicit throughout the entirety of his works. In fact, the phrase “aristocratic radicalism” was coined by the erudite 19th-century Danish scholar Georg Brandes to formally designate Nietzsche’s uniquely aristocratic outlook on life. During the course of Nietzsche’s correspondence with Brandes, the great philosopher himself expressed admiration for the term, proclaiming, “The expression Aristocratic Radicalism, which you employ, is very good. It is, permit me to say, the cleverest thing I have yet read about myself.”3
In The Will to Power, Nietzsche writes, “Aristocracy represents the belief in an elite humanity and higher caste. Democracy represents the disbelief in great human beings and an elite society.”4 For Nietzsche, this distinctly aristocratic ethos was no more readily apparent than in the gloriously vitalistic world of ancient Classical Greece, as he writes, “Oh, those Greeks! They knew how to live: for that purpose, it is necessary to keep bravely to the surface, the fold and the skin; to worship appearance, to believe in forms, tones, and words, in the whole Olympus of appearance!”5 For Nietzsche, it was the Greeks and their love of life, and the pursuit of excellence in the service to living a life of the highest quality, that earned his highest acclaim.
It is in the writings of Homer, especially his Iliad, from which a new vision of human greatness and aristocratic excellence was born—a vision that was brought to life and made manifest within the flesh and blood of the warrior aristocracy of ancient Greece. In the ancient Greek tongue, the term “aristocracy” (aristokratíā) denotes the “rule of the best.” It originates from the combination of two Greek words: áristos, meaning the “best,” and krátos, meaning “strength” or “power.” In the Classical world, the áristos was one who excelled in excellence (arête). For the ancient áristos, arête was not merely an abstract ideal, but a way of life and a modality of becoming that defined his existence. For Nietzsche, it was the ancient Greeks who first formally conceptualized the áristos as the higher type of man—noble and supreme—which deeply influenced his philosophical works and earned the highest levels of admiration. Moreover, it was the ancient Greeks’ profound conceptualization of the aristocracy, the rule of the best, that played a central role in forming the metaphysical foundation of Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch.
In continuation of the ancient Hellenic worldview that strove for perfection, Nietzsche extolls us to reach for greatness, like our ancestral Greek brethren, proclaiming, “I teach you the Superman; man is something that must be overcome.”6 According to Nietzsche, the radical aristocrat, the Übermensch, holds the key to overcoming the frailty of a contemporary mankind enthralled by the derangements of modernity. The Übermensch is the epitome of human perfection and symbolizes a higher species of man. In Nietzsche’s words, the Übermensch is “the Roman Caesar with Christ’s soul,” epitomizing a supreme higher type of man who encompasses a seemingly contradictory yet complementary set of harmonious qualities. Nietzsche envisions the Übermensch as the living and breathing paragon of perfection who seamlessly embodies the ideal elements of the Apollonian (i.e., rationality, order, and harmony) and the Dionysian (i.e., irrationality, chaos, and instinct). The Übermensch, through the embrace of life’s struggles, represents the harmonious merging of artistic and philosophical qualities, embodying purity, strength, and greatness, representing the sublime convergence of mankind’s potential and greatness.
The concept of the Übermensch, deeply rooted in the Indo-European and later the European aristocratic worldview, directly challenges the prevailing egalitarian values of contemporary Western society and the herd mentality perpetuated by the dominant ideology of liberal humanism. Nietzsche’s vision of a radically aristocratic world is fiercely elitist, intended for the select few, “a herd of blonde beasts of prey, a race of conquerors and masters,” who possess the capacity for self-overcoming and the self-mastery intrinsic to it—to embark on the path toward realizing the Übermensch.7 This path of elevation is by its very nature inaccessible to the majority as it is the template for the formulation of a new ruling elite.
Additionally, and relatedly, Nietzsche bestowed profound significance upon the concept of arête, an embodiment of the unwavering pursuit of self-mastery and self-creation. Arête materializes as a tangible expression of Nietzsche’s Will to Power, the central pillar of his philosophical framework and the primordial force that courses through all human endeavor and creative expression. The Will to Power illustrates the innate yearning and impetus within all life to assert personal dominance and authority, so as to actualize aspirations and unleash the creative potential within. Thus, arête becomes the transformative medium through which the transcendence of being manifests as the act of becoming. Nietzsche eloquently expresses this notion of perpetual distinction by writing, “Creating a higher state of being for ourselves is our state of being.”8
Thus, while the Übermensch represents Nietzsche’s aristocratic ideal, the pursuit of arête serves as the path towards its earthly realization. The Übermensch, with his tenacious dedication to self-overcoming, combines the conflicting yet complementary forces of the Apollonian and the Dionysian within the totality of his being. Through the ontological synthesis of discipline, passion, reason, strength, and creative expression, the Übermensch transcends all conventional limitations, transforming himself into the highest expression of mankind’s potential.
In the quest for personal metamorphosis, the arduous ascent from man to Übermensch, a resolute imperative emerges—a profound transfiguration of Western civilization becomes an undeniable necessity. The West teeters at the precipice of a vast abyss, confronted by an array of existential threats and civilization-threatening challenges, expressively termed by the brilliant French thinker Guillaume Faye as the Convergence of Catastrophes. Multiple perils loom large—global economic collapse, epidemics, resource depletion, mass immigration, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, strained relations between the Global South and the West, and a declining population—all simultaneously converging into a catastrophic crescendo that threatens the very survival of the West and its people. Nietzschean philosophy posits that the problems of Europe can and must be solved by the creation and “the cultivation of a new caste that will rule Europe.” 9 In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche delves deeper into the characteristics of this emerging elite, emphasizing that throughout history, “[e]very elevation of the type man has hitherto been the work of an aristocratic society—and so it will always be—a society believing in a long scale of gradations of rank and differences of worth among human beings, and requiring slavery in some form or other” is the only way to move forward and thwart the trajectory of our current state of decline.10 Nietzsche’s philosophical doctrine is one of total metaphysical transformation, and the vanguards of this revolution are the radically aristocratic Übermenschen. The Übermensch emerges as the herald of a new age, standing in vehement opposition to the twin serpents of the reigning liberal-humanistic paradigm and mass democracy that have held hypnotic sway over the Western world since the Age of Enlightenment. This transformative revolution, spearheaded by an audacious aristocratic elite, challenges the very metaphysical bedrock of postmodern Western civilization, representing the potentiality for a profound and irrevocable rupture from the prevailing order.
In Nietzsche’s view, the Enlightenment’s rationalism, and the resulting contemporary liberal-humanistic paradigm, with its quasi-religious worship of all things baseless and material, made manifest by the totalizing apotheosis of empirical knowledge, fostered the emergence of a world defined by shallow abstractions and fragmented realities. This degradation of the Western world and its people stands in direct opposition to the Nietzschean call for the pursuit of excellence and greatness. The Enlightenment, with its tyrannical promotion of egalitarianism, its myopic focus on reason as the sole source of ultimate authority, its narcissistic obsession with individual rights, and the unyielding pursuit of progress as an end unto itself, gave form and shape to a civilization defined by mediocrity, populated and ruled by Nietzsche’s Last Man.
As envisioned by Nietzsche, the Last Man emerges as civilizational decline reaches its apex, a consequence of the proliferation of egalitarian ideologies and the hegemonic metapolitical dominance of the liberal-humanist worldview engendered by the Enlightenment. The decline of the West and the elevation to prominence of the Last Man was intensified and rendered all the more insidious by the “democratizing” forces unleashed by the French Revolution, which further degenerated an already debased mankind with its impassioned and plebeian-like slogan of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, in its war of annihilation against all that is good, strong, and noble. The Last Man personifies a future where mediocrity reigns supreme, as mankind succumbs to complacency and forfeits all lofty aspirations. The Last Man represents the culmination of a decadent civilization that has forsaken all higher values and abandoned the pursuit of excellence and greatness achieved through the noble enterprise. Content in his comfortable and banally uneventful bourgeois existence, the Last Man is devoid of the fire of passion, the spark of creativity, and the noble yearnings that once propelled mankind forward towards the heavens. The Last Man is the antithesis of the higher type, a living embodiment of a civilization that has relinquished its potential for sublime elevation and has instead been transformed into mediocrity incarnate.
More pointedly, Nietzsche fervently denounced the materialistic doctrines of Liberalism and Socialism that emerged in the aftermath of the French Revolution, ideologies whose reimagined offspring presently rend asunder the very foundations of the Western world. According to Nietzsche, these ideologies have enslaved the world, transfiguring man into a spineless, pleasure-seeking creature, who is held in perpetual thrall to his most base animalistic desires and instincts. For Nietzsche, Western revitalization lies in overcoming the slave-masters of the bourgeois present—these petty hedonistic creatures, these men without chests, who represent the greatest threat to the emergence of the Übermensch—and the subsequent transformative elevation of a European civilization reborn, which would result from the emergence and ascendancy of this higher type. In this regard, Nietzschean philosophy can be conceptualized as a revolt against the entire liberal-humanist tradition of Western civilization: a degenerated Christianity, a spiritless rationalism, a base materialism, and the decadent nihilism that pervades all facets of postmodern existence.
Along these lines, and in opposition to the egalitarianism of modernity, Nietzsche was a staunch inegalitarian, who believed in a natural hierarchy, premised upon merit in relation to the exercise of excellence. More precisely, for Nietzsche, the egalitarian worldview promulgated by Enlightenment-era thinking sought to impose an artificial veneer of equality among all individuals, regardless of their varying abilities, talents, and characteristics, and this, of course, is anathema to human ennoblement. According to Nietzsche’s vision, inequality was not only deemed natural but—more importantly—deemed necessary for a flourishing and vitalistic civilization. Nietzsche argues that the supreme ambitions of all great civilizations revolved around the pursuit of creating a superior type of individual and cultivating an exalted culture. These lofty aspirations were intimately connected to the recognition of inequality and the subsequent establishment of a hierarchical social order that emanated from embracing this eternal verity. In Nietzschean parlance, life embodies the constant struggle of the many against the few, the commonplace against the rare, and the weak against the strong. Consequently, the embrace of egalitarianism by Western civilization has ignited a rebellion against the innate natural order of the cosmos itself, and as such must be crushed.
Stated more plainly, Nietzsche exhorts those in the present to cast off the fetters imposed upon them by the prevailing stranglehold of the bourgeois mindset. This mindset, fixated on the trifecta of safety, security, and comfort, serves as a formidable barrier that we must surpass in order to unlock the depths of our full potential and embrace a path of magnificence and elevation. Nietzsche’s resounding summons reverberates through the ages, beckoning us, the visionary few—the radical aristocrats—to transcend the shallow and materialistic confines of the bourgeois worldview. This noble undertaking encompasses a profound voyage into the realm of self-overcoming, where the flames of self-mastery ignite and illuminate our path towards uncharted heights of elevation. It is through our relentless pursuit of becoming something greater that we, these intrepid souls, ascend towards the majestic summit of our true potential. Along these lines, Nietzsche boldly proclaims, “Man is something that shall be overcome. Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman—a rope over an abyss. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end.”11
This resounding declaration encapsulates Nietzsche’s unwavering belief in the boundless potential of a select few—the vigorous and vitalistic new aristocratic elite—to surpass all limitations and transcend the boundaries that confine them. In their unwavering pursuit, these intrepid souls embark upon a relentless quest to attain a heightened state of being, transcending the ordinary and ascending to extraordinary realms of existence. To ignite the ancestral flame of Western civilization and herald a new era marked by the rise of a radical aristocratic elite, it is of paramount importance that we wholeheartedly embrace the imperative of reclaiming the time-honored values and moral compass that gave metaphysical shape and direction to the old order. This act of restoration forms the fundamental foundation of Nietzsche’s master-slave morality (German: Herren- und Sklavenmoral), which finds its initial expression in On the Genealogy of Morality and undergoes further refinement into its final form as articulated in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
Nietzsche astutely acknowledges the intrinsic inequality and inegalitarian nature pervasive in all facets of existence. Within this realization, the concept of justice and morality is stripped of its claim to universality, giving way to the emergence of a distinct hierarchy of values. This hierarchy begets two contrasting and antithetical moralities: “master morality,” with its hallmark attributes of pride, honor, and glory, standing in stark contrast to the “slave morality” propelled by envy, resentment, and weakness.
Nietzsche aptly describes the master morality, stating, “The cowardly, timid, and petty, those obsessed with narrow utility, are despised… The noble individual, the arbiter of values, creates and upholds values. Such a morality is self-glorification, rooted in a sense of plentitude, overflowing power, the exhilaration of tension, and the consciousness of a wealth that desires to give and bestow. The noble human, driven by an excess of power, assists the unfortunate not out of pity but from an impulse born of superfluity.”12 Conversely, Nietzsche perceives slave morality as a reactionary response of the weak and downtrodden against the strong and resilient—the very essence of the radical aristocrat. It is the morality and worldview of the herd, the great levelers of all things, whose values degrade life into a state of utmost mediocrity. In their pursuit of an egalitarian ethos, they undermine the virtues of strength, excellence, and greatness, reducing them to mere shadows in the collective realm of bovine-like conformity.
In the present era of postmodern decline and decay, where the slave morality reigns supreme, in an age characterized by the hegemonic ubiquity of egalitarianism inherent to all totalizing economic worldviews, it becomes strikingly apparent that the demarcation between existing notions of “good” and “evil” are specious at best, and generally nothing more than political artifice used to control the masses. Let it be clarified here, Nietzsche does not negate the existence of “good” and “evil.” Instead, he asserts that in the present era, what is widely perceived as “good” caters to the feeble Last Man and his pursuit of ignoble mediocrity. Conversely, what is deemed “evil” aligns with the interests of the strong, those endowed with the capacity to uplift and transcend. For example, in the West, the preservation of European ethnocultural identity is frequently subjected to moral condemnation, being labeled as “evil,” while parallel principles promoted by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities are readily embraced as “good.”
In essence, the prevailing moral framework in the Western world serves as a force that aims to suppress and undermine all that embodies strength and excellence. According to Nietzsche, the revival of human greatness necessitates a radical and transformative process—a “transvaluation of values.” This process of transvaluation demands a return to the aristocratic ethos of our European forefathers, who embodied the qualities of noble strength, heroic glory, and the love of excellence that were, in times past, the quintessential hallmark of Western greatness. By reviving the noble morality of the master, we can reawaken our innate potential and reclaim our rightful position as a powerful and exalted people once more.
Concluding, Nietzschean philosophy is a clarion call, urging us to embrace the radical aristocratism intrinsic to the higher type, the Übermensch. Like the áristos of ancient Greece, Nietzsche extolls us to embrace the pursuit of self-overcoming and self-mastery, encapsulated within the ancient concept of arête, fueled by the primordial force of the Will to Power, so as to reignite the smoldering flame of the ancestral spirit that still courses through the veins of the West and its peoples. For Nietzsche, the radically aristocratic Übermensch embodies the epitome of nature’s magnificence, symbolizing “the supreme, the dominating law, the sanctioning of a natural order,” made manifest by his continued pursuit to overcome all limits, and in turn elevate himself to aspire to something greater. By embracing the path of self-overcoming, self-mastery, and excellence, we become the catalysts for the revival of Western civilization and the heralds of a new age. Like the fierce and unquenchable Heraclitan fire that burns within the heart and soul of the Übermensch, our unwavering determination will ignite a civilizationally transformative flame, purging the decadence of the past and igniting the embers of a resurgent dawn.
1 Nietzsche, F. (2006). Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A book for all and none. (A. Del Caro, Trans., R. Pippin, Ed.) (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press.
2 Nietzsche, F. (2010). The Anti-Christ ; Ecce Homo ; Twilight of the Idols: and Other Writings. (J. Norman, Trans., A. Ridley, Ed.). Cambridge University Press.
3 Brandes, G. (1914). Friedrich Nietzsche. William Heinemann.
4 Nietzsche, F. Ludovici, A. M. (1913). The Will to Power. (O. Levy, Ed.) (1st ed.). T. N. Foulis.
5 Nietzsche, F. (2010). The Gay Science: With a prelude in German rhymes and appendix of songs. (J. Nauckhoff & D. A. Caro, Trans., W. B. A. Owen, Ed.). Cambridge University Press.
6 Nietzsche, F. (2006). Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A book for all and none. (A. Del Caro, Trans., R. Pippin, Ed.) (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press.
7 Nietzsche, F. (2011). What Nietzsche Taught. (W. H. Wright, Ed.). Legare Street Press.
8 Wright, D. H. (ed.). (1940). Sword of the Spirit (1st ed., Ser. 1940).
9 Ludovici , A. (2020). Nietzsche: His Life and Works. Legare Street Press.
10 Nietzsche, F. (1913). Beyond Good and Evil . (H. Zimmern, Trans.).
11 Nietzsche, Friedrich. (2006). Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A book for all and none. (A. Del Caro, Trans., R. Pippin, Ed.) (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press.
12 Nietzsche, F. Ludovici, A. M. (1913). The Will to Power. (O. Levy, Ed.) (1st ed.). T. N. Foulis.