Beyond Goods and Services: Toward a Nietzschean Critique of Capitalism

Kritike 5 (2):26-40 (2011)

Michael Kilivris
Westmoreland County Community College
In this article, I examine an underexplored area of Nietzsche’s thought, namely his comments regarding several integral aspects of capitalism. In particular, I argue against the interpretation of Nietzsche as a bourgeois ideologue, by showing how his claims about money-making, money itself, work, workers, pleasure, and the marketplace amount to a critical view of capitalism’s essential features. In addition, I distinguish his critical standpoint from more familiar critiques of capitalism such as that of Marx, using Nietzsche’s own criticisms of socialism to propose that, in contrast, Nietzsche’s perspective vis-à-vis capitalism is what I call aristocratic. By “aristocratic” I refer to the attitude or “pathos of distance” Nietzsche possesses in relation to such things as money-making, work, and the marketplace, rather than some literal aristocracy that he supposedly defends. Finally, I offer a brief discussion of how Nietzsche’s aristocratic perspective can assist the Marxist critique today by rejecting one of capitalism’s strongest ideological supports, that is, the myth of capitalists as great individuals
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