States and Nomads
States and Nomads
Hegel’s World and Nietzsche’s Earth
In this paper I develop an important strand in Nietzsche’s concept of earth by articulating his running critique, explicit and implicit, of Hegel’s idea of world-history. To read Nietzsche as the anti-Hegel is not unusual; it is one of the main themes, for example, of Deleuze’s Nietzsche book. More specifically, I will show that Nietzsche develops his concept of the earth, and what he sometimes calls the Menschen-Erde, in critical dialogue with Hegelian world-history. That dialogue or polemic begins vigorously in the Unzeitmässige Betrachtungen. I argue that Nietzsche criticizes Hegel not only for making history into a science that saps the active spirit, but that he radically departs from Hegel’s restriction of world-history to the rise and transformation of states. Hegel’s restriction involves a constriction of the notion of world itself—his world is only the world of states. Nietzsche sometimes speaks disparagingly of «so-called world history» (e.g. Daybreak 307), indicating how limited he takes Hegel’s perspective to be. Hegel’s concept definitively excludes such things as the wanderings and migrations of peoples (e.g. Encyclopedia 549; «Introduction» to Lectures on the Philosophy of World-History). Nietzsche argues that mobility and nomadism are significant features of human life on the earth, and especially noteworthy in modern Europe (e.g. Human All-too-Human 475, Beyond Good and Evil 242). In this context he argues that the state must maintain an artificial unity and identity by promoting war and fear, and asserting itself through the declaration of states of exception. The state attempts to marginalize the fact of difference in practice as Hegel does in theory. The state will eventually vanish, Nietzsche says, showing itself in the long run to be only one of many modes of human organization. In contrast, the largest possible field for understanding and evaluating human actions and possibilities is not world-history, but what Nietzsche calls the earth or human-earth. Hegel speaks of the «great events» of world-history, but conceives these as all essentially state-related. Nietzsche challenges this claim in the chapter “On Great Events” where Zarathustra describes these events as trivial, compared to those that manifest themselves gradually on the earth. The earth or human-earth, then, is the always plural, immanent field of human movement, the ground on which moralities, religions, cultures, states and other forms of human organization operate. Deleuze and Guattari claim that Nietzsche is the inventor of geo-philosophy; this becomes clearer by following the contrast Nietzsche develops between earth and world-history.
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