‘Nietzsche and Anarchy’ by Shahin (Elephant Editions)

  • Posted on: 23 December 2016
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

From 325

Psychology for Free Spirits, Ontology for Social War

How is it possible to live free and joyful in this world of domination? The key idea Nietzsche offers us is this: don’t hide from struggle in fantasy worlds or imaginary futures, but affirm life, say yes to life here and now. With all its violence, cruelty and loneliness; and all its encounters of tenderness, wildness, delight and possibility.

The first part of the book is a reading of Nietzsche’s philosophy of individual self-making. It begins with his radical psychology of “drives”, which understands human beings as always multiple and always open to change. It works through his theories of incorporation, herd instinct, the sovereign individual, and slave morality, to reach the image of the “free spirit” who stands against the norms and creates new values.

The second part builds on these Nietzschean ideas with others from more recent thinkers, to develop an “ontology for social war”, a framework for thinking through relations of conflict and affinity, power and domination. It addresses questions such as: how do we form groups that are not conformist herds? How do we spread anarchic desires, without becoming advertisers or missionaries? How do we fight, without becoming cruel or cold?

While the first part of the book can be read as an accessible introduction to core aspects of Nietzsche’s thought, this is not a work of scholarship but one individual’s use of some Nietzschean ideas as weapons for self-transformation and social struggle.

Published by Elephant Editions & Active Distribution

Hard copies to order from Active Distribution:


Read online at The Anarchist Library:




Very excited about this text. Still reading it, but happy to see perspective of this sort which leads towards, rather than away from, social struggle.


what is this fetishizing a hierarchy of a type of singular response?

even trained fighters (bjj, mma, ufc, for instance) fatigue, and a drop out of energy levels. there's a physical limit to fighting. what then becomes more important is recovery.

you never see those that would have anarchist mean 'professional militant' mention recovery...

Suffering means I'm doing 'real work' because I'm negating the comforts and pleasures I've been made to feel guilty of. It is a penatent act, an act of self flagellation. It is christian tradition in the secular realm.

Struggle as a term is so widely used as to be rendered meaningless. A ''margarine term.' Often it is just intellectual name-dropping. Scene-morality points through language mastery. "I believe in struggle." But often people are not struggling; they live comfortable lives with ready access to necessities, and thus perform types of self harm or unhealthy behavior, often in the 'work' itself, to make up for it. This is then called 'struggle' but it isn't, it's just masochism.

More speculatively, struggle & social justice are psy-ops for creation of controlled opposition. Result: large portions of the populace are content to value moralistic ineffcient busywork over strategy & mastery. Sweating, straining, whipping oneself across the back, and making a show of it. It is very popular.

I feel like I'm describing Catholicism.

Don't think that's what the author is talking about here:

"My starting point is a desire for life. I want to live free, and I want to live joyfully.

What is anarchy? An idea that helps guide this desire. Anarchy means: no rulers. No domination. No one is a master and no one is a slave.[1]

But we live in a world of domination. The overwhelming force of the state, the all-pervading power of the market, the ever-present oppressions of species, gender, race, class, religion, down to the petty hierarchies and degradations of our everyday lives and personal relationships, the social norms of status, submission, isolation dug deep into our bodies. In totality: a system of shit.

So how can I possibly live free in this world? If freedom means utopia, a world with no more domination, then it’s a hopeless quest. By now we know that no god, no great revolution, is going to appear and take us to the promised land.

Instead, living freely can only mean living fighting. It means seizing what moments and cracks of freedom I can. It means attacking and uprooting as much as I can the forces of domination around and within me.

And again: I want to live joyfully. I have had enough of sadness, fear, and despair.

Does it sound like there’s a contradiction here? Growing up in this thing called liberal democracy, they tried to teach me that struggle is bitter. At best, conflict is something nasty you have to face up to sometimes, while dreaming of a world of perpetual peace.

This way of thinking can’t work for us now, if it ever did. There is no end in sight, no new world to come. There is only this world, with its pain and cruelty and loneliness. And also: its delights, all its sensations, encounters, friendships, loves, discoveries, tenderness, wildness, beauty, and possibilities.

This is the key idea of Nietzsche’s philosophy: affirm life, say yes to life, here and now. Don’t try to hide from struggle in fantasy worlds and imaginary futures. Embrace life’s conflict, and yes you can live freely and joyfully.

Of course, it’s not easy. It involves danger, and also hard work. We face enemies in the world around us, institutions and individuals that set out to oppress and exploit us. And we also face forces within ourselves that work to keep us passive, conformist, confused, anxious, sad, self-destructive, weak.

To fight these forces effectively, we need to make ourselves stronger, both as individuals and as groups of comrades, friends and allies. And one part of this is striving to better understand ourselves and the social worlds we are part of. Ideas are tools – or weapons. But many of the ideas we learn in contemporary capitalist society are blunt or broken, or actively hold us back. We need new ways of thinking, and developing these can involve exploring the work of past thinkers – not as sacred masters but as ‘arsenals to be looted’.[2]

One source of idea-weapons, which I at least have found very helpful, is Nietzsche. I am writing this book to explain some of these Nietzschean ideas, as I understand them, both to clarify my own thinking and to share them with others."

There is a big difference, and a vast array of possibilities between the extremes of either "social justice" activism, or "only hedonism and revenge will do".

it is curious how so many people want to close down the possibilities that others would like to open up. it is like, for many, there is only one 'right way' and they know they have found it. Montaigne's treatise on education is so relevant to this, but it seems like society/people have become far more closed and suspicious over the past few centuries;

"Let him make him examine and thoroughly sift everything he reads, and lodge nothing in his fancy upon simple authority and upon trust. Aristotle’s principles will then be no more principles to him, than those of Epicurus and the Stoics: let this. diversity of opinions be propounded to, and laid before him; he will himself choose, if he be able; if not, he will remain in doubt. “Che, non men che saper, dubbiar m’ aggrata,”-- Montaigne

there is an 'ethic' of openness here that would be refreshing to re-encounter today.

Or … maybe not? likely varies on an individual basis, hmm?

^damnit, this reply was to the fool trying to characterize all struggle as self-flagellation

Nietzsche hated anarchy ( and women!) But insofar as he had any good ideas these were covered pithily by Stirner decades before Nietzsche!
Its no accident so many followers of this gasbag are serious arseholes; Foucault being a good example.

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