Nietzsche, Identity Politics & Post-Feminism

Posted: September 30, 2009 in Troll Wars

Nietzsche wrote A Genealogy Of Morality (GOM) in 1880, a very interesting time. The stranglehold that Calvinist identity politics had on German public morality was beginning to slip. Bismarck had unified Germany under Prussian rule only ten years earlier. The “imaginary community” of the German Nation was being created. Nationalist and Populist politics were destabilizing all of the regimes of Europe that could not harness the New Nationalism to their cause.

Nietzsche witnessed an earlier era of identity politics when the newly minted secular identities of class and nation were gaining ground on the Calvinist and Lutheran identities. He despises the protestant morality which he grew up with. He calls it a slave morality which he traces back to the persecution of the early Christians within the Roman Empire. A slave morality is a sort of intense passive aggressive identity. As marginalized people the early christian theology identified with a victim status. It tried to make powerlessness into a virtue and dreamed of vengeance on the Sinful Roman empire. Nietzsche sees the Calvinist Identity as identifying with being victimized by the sinful, the powerful and the secular and dreaming of the ultimate vengeance fire and brimstone. In Contemporary California we might say that they “gave their power away” and embraced the role of the victim. Nietzsche finds this Victim Theology in most (all?) of the identity politics of his contemporaries, including christian moralism, anti-semitism, working-class populism, nationalism, socialism, anarchism and feminism. He felt that each of these movements had internalized the original Judeo-Christian victim cult.

At the time Nationalism was considered a progressive movement of liberation and modernism. Identifying with one’s nation was a new and modern identity which has started spreading across Europe with Napoleon earlier that century. Those new identities of German, Hungarian, Serbian and Croatian were very fresh and all based on cults of imagined victimization by another group. Hatred towards another group which is perceived to have power over your own “imagined community”, that was and is the basis of Identity Politics.

  1. Stephanie says:

    Unfortunately for you Nietzsche considered all the things you mention symptoms of the body!

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