In seen in a passage on his concept of

In order to properly analyze the
views and writings of Nietzsche it is important to understand him as
anti-political, not holding beliefs consistent of any standard political
ideologies. Therefore to call him both the most democratic and anti-democratic
thinker is actually quite true if you view “liberalism” and “democracy” as
related but separate topics. In doing this it is clear that while Nietzsche
holds strong anti-democratic views he is also in support of many liberal values
that are inherent in democratic ideologies. Since the two terms are
fundamentally linked it is impossible to completely dissociate liberalism from
democracy. By this logic Nietzsche’s liberal beliefs and support in the
struggle for liberty and individualism make him an extremely democratic thinker,
just as well as his disregard of populism and egalitarianism make him widely
anti-democratic.

            This
distinction can be seen in a passage on his concept of freedom in which he
states, “there is nothing that harms freedom more severely and fundamentally
than liberal institutions” (Twilight of
the Idols). While this could point to him being against liberal thought,
what I believe he means by this is that it is the institutions of liberalism
that are present in democratic systems that inhibit freedom rather than actual
liberalism. He elaborates more on this idea by stating that the “West no longer
has those instincts from which institutions grow” (Twilight of the Idols), we have tried tirelessly to base our modern
institutions on those of the past, failing simply because we have since shifted
our ideas of freedom. To Nietzsche freedom is having responsibility for
oneself, being indifferent to hardships and deprivation, and letting the
instincts for war dominate all other (Twilight
of the Idols), the very same principles that those in ancient Athens and
Sparta based their institutions and government on. However today our modern
institution have structured themselves around an idea of freedom that has lost
that rationality of the past, replacing it with ideas surrounding group power
and survival through pairing people together as opposed to individualism. For
Nietzsche it is not that liberal thought and ideologies have constrained
freedom but that we have structured these institutions of modern liberal
democracies around false ideas of liberty and sovereignty.

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            It
is this opposition he felt towards the idea that society should function as a
cohesive unit of equal individuals that very clearly highlights his
anti-democratic positions. Nietzsche’s views on democratic societies maintain
that they all hold social structures composed of many people, all of which
regard superiors as having moral high ground (Beyond Good and Evil). His main arguments against systems of this
nature revolve around his belief that “madness is rare in individuals – but in
groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule” (Beyond Good and Evil). Within these democratic systems Nietzsche
believes that these egalitarian principles “undermine the will to power, they
are the leveling of mountain and valley elevated into a morality, they make
people small, cowardly, and pleasure-loving” (Twilight of the Idols) and because of this they being to resemble
herd animals. The problem with this lies in his views of freedom as being
attained through strength and individualism; therefore the egalitarianism
within democratic institutions undermines a person’s freedom by equalizing
them.

This is what
people call Nietzsche’s “herd-animalization” (Twilight of the Idols) theory, a theory claiming that liberal
institutions eliminate the basic human instincts of freedom that push them to
want to be better. These instincts became unnecessary as soon as our concept of
freedom shifted; we once saw value in freedom because of what we paid to
achieve it – what it cost us, now we hold value in freedom because of what we
get by means of it (Twilight of the Idols).

Nietzsche understood freedom “as something that one has and does not have, that
one wills to have, that one conquers” (Twilight
of the Idols); he believed that the means one takes to achieve their
independence and the sacrifices they make along the way were what truly made a
human free. By this logic it is not technically the institutions that undermine
our freedom then because as long as we hold the same mindset we had when we
were building them as we do after we have attained them then they promote
freedom. Basically it is our fault that liberalism doesn’t promote freedom
anymore because we allowed ourselves to lose the very instincts in which made
us great in the first place. As soon as liberal institutions put us above
others we saw no need to continue striving for greatness and strength.

We then must come
back to Nietzsche’s view of greatness, one in which aristocracy prevailed as
opposed to democratic ideals of equality. To him the advances of mankind have
always and only come from “a society that believes in the long ladder of an
order of rank and differences in value between man and man, and that needs
slavery in some sense or other” (Beyond
Good and Evil).  He believed that in
order for society and man to be great there must be a will to persist and
overcome, that man needs to harness the same instincts he would have during
wartime in order to prevail. Only societies whose doctrines promote “equal for
equals, unequal for unequals” (Twilight
of the Idols) will foster true justice, because it is in these societies
that man is able to act on his natural instincts. Societies that promote
equality hamper our natural instinct to view life as simply the will to power
over others and ourselves because “exploitation… belongs to the essence of
what lives, as a basic organic function” (Beyond
Good and Evil), and egalitarianism prevents exploitation.

However what he
means in terms of exploitation doesn’t always align completely with our
definition of it as the manipulation of others, but with mans manipulation of
himself and his abilities. For Nietzsche “it is the business of the very few to
be independent; it is a privilege of the strong…whoever attempts it …proves
that he is probably not only strong but also daring” (Beyond Good and Evil); to him it was inconceivable for everyone in
liberal democracies to be able to break free from their herd mentality.

Therefore he believed that the man who was able to tap into his natural
instinct of independence was the strongest of them all. Any man who is able to
redirect his means of exploitation from the group to his own self would “push
the virtue of liberality so far that it becomes a vice” (Beyond Good and Evil). To be able to see that it is not those
around you which give you power and strength but yourself and the manipulation
of your own virtues allows man to tap into his natural instinct for challenging
himself. His thoughts on this topic are those consistent with anti-political
ideologies, ones that promote the utilization of oneself as opposed to the
utilization of society and its institutions.

 

 A lot of Nietzsche’s views tend to be a sort
of will to action, he speaks as if he is convincing a crowd or commencing a
rally. While I am able to call him anti-political for a number of reasons,
there is always an undertone to these “anti-political” ideals that seem to be
calling for people to unthink what democratic society has taught them and to
take on another thought process. However this thought process is one that
promotes freedom, individualism, autonomy, and liberty, all principles common
in liberal ideologies. Therefore I come to the conclusion that Nietzsche was
very anti-democratic, he was against societies that diluted freedom through
egalitarianism and populism, believing that institutions were the main source
of man’s downfall. On the other hand though, Nietzsche was not interested in
our standard ideologies so it is completely reasonable to see why he would have
distaste for democratic systems. However, he was still interested in the same
questions as we are and believed strongly in many ideals held by liberal
thinkers, such as liberty, individualism, and freedom. It is unwise to call
Nietzsche a “democratic thinker” though, simply because his beliefs were not
mutually consistent with other democratic thinkers. We can easily prove though
that he is a liberal thinker and a supporter of liberalism, and since in our
modern society the two terms seem to be intrinsically interrelated, he can be
categorized under the umbrella term of democratic.