America’s Superman

Nietzsche has appealed to Americans on the right and left for over a century. They have looked past his dark reputation to remake the German philosopher in their own image

Adam Kirsch

Many American politicians could find support for their ideas in Nietzsche. A Tea Party Republican might choose Thus Spoke Zarathustra: “The state is the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies, too; and this lie creeps from its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.’” A secular liberal could turn to the strident atheism of Beyond Good and Evil, while an unapologetic, Dick Cheney-style hawk would have plenty of quotes to choose from. What about, for starters, “You should be such men as are always looking for an enemy—for your enemy”?

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American Nietzsche

by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen (University of Chicago Press, £19.50)

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