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Living on the Earth: States, Nomads, Multitude

Living on the Earth: States, Nomads, Multitude

(p.63) Chapter 3 Living on the Earth: States, Nomads, Multitude
Nietzsche's Earth
Gary Shapiro
University of Chicago Press

This chapter develops Nietzsche’s analysis of the modern state’s fragility, supposedly the telos of world-history. His observation that the state requires manufactured crises to claim legitimacy is contextualized with reference to the German “state of exception.” The analysis is amplified by considering views of Carl Schmitt, Giorgio Agamben, and others on parallels between political and theological sovereignty. Given this skeptical take on state and world-history, the chapter turns to Nietzsche’s alternative concept of the earth (or human-earth). It focuses on the complementary perspectives of two paired texts, Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil. The first calls for loyalty to the earth as the highest virtue, dramatizes what it could mean to live on the earth, and raises the question of “great events” in relation to the earth. Beyond is read in terms of its historical and political analysis of so-called “peoples and fatherlands.” Nietzsche dispels nationalist ideology, demonstrating that ethnicities and nation-states fail at the coherence and integrity assumed by “world-history.” Rather, he sees the human-earth as inhabited by increasingly nomadic populations and declares that this is the century of the multitude (Menge), a heterogeneous grouping that can be swayed by cultural media.

Keywords:   Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, state, nomad, state of exception, earth, multitude

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