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+4 votes

How do you feel Nietzche's concept of the will to power influences or adds to your understanding of anarchy?
Assuming that the will to power means "to mean a struggle against one's surroundings that culminates in personal growth, self-overcoming, and self-perfection, and assert that the power held over others as a result of this is coincidental. Thus Nietzsche wrote: My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (its will to power) and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the part of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement ("union") with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: thus they then conspire together for power. And the process goes on."  Or how would you define it to make it relevant to you?

by (170 points)

"My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (its will to power) and to thrust back all that resists its extension."

that snippet, along with many others i have read from nietzche and stirner (as well as some of their contemporaries), expresses an aspect of their perspective that i take serious issue with, despite the fact that i could be misunderstanding the translations and interpretations of english speakers translating their words.

their concept of power seems absolutely rooted in an economic perspective of the world. the desire to constantly "extend" ones power (capitalist/economic expansionism, whatever the words used), is the very definition of imperialism to me, whatever the scale implied.

i honestly do not understand the phrase "will to power". the definition given by the asker of the question ("a struggle against one's surroundings that culminates in personal growth") makes no sense to me. if i had to constantly struggle against my surroundings, i would for damn sure find different surroundings. there are always choices. they just might not always seem appealing, especially when they appear to be limited to what facebook, twitter and cnn tell you.

ps: fuck perfection!!!!

F@: i agree that the universality of nietzsche's proclamation is a provocation. i find that it's true for me as an anarchist in this world, and that as an anarchist i look forward to a world in which it's not (so much) the case. the assumption of a conflictual relationship with our surroundings is to me about rejecting and resisting the assumptions of a patriarchal, capitalist, etc etc culture.

i think your point about both stirner and nietzsche having fundamentally economic perspectives on power (and that at least nietzsche ends up being imperialist) is interesting. perhaps you'll say more at some point.

if you haven't already done so, i highly recommend you read nietzache and anarchy by shahin. to be fair i am only about half-way though it but i have loved the first half. 

I want to add to dot's point that when Nietzsche talks about power I think he usually says "macht." This could be rendered as "might" but I think with Nietzsche that would be misleading.

 The intention might be clearer if you were to render "macht" as capacity, potentiality, or something along these lines, because his sense of it usually seems to be a Spinozist one, where what increases your "power" is what increases your capacity for affecting and being affected.

I.e., my sense is that he's really never talking about the kind of power that would be manifested by muscles, machine guns, barbed wire, cash reserves, and so forth. And if I recall correctly he's pretty clear that the accumulation of these things is really a dead end.

It could be true that there is still something economistic about this line of thinking–If by economistic you don't mean an economy of money, but something like a "general economy."

And, in a certain way, you could argue that this is still a kind of imperialism, but I think you would have to grant that it's a very strange kind, where your struggle against your surroundings might well take the form of, like, going for a walk and admiring some geological formations, attempting to treat your various illnesses, engaging in urbane chitchat, taking all your belongings with you and moving to a different furnished room all the time to get the right weather, etc., etc.

"My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force (its will to power) ... "

to me, that statement is fairly clear, regardless of how one interprets the concept of "power". i have no affinity with it, as i understand it. i have no desire to be master over all space, and to perpetually extend that mastery. again, maybe i am completely misunderstanding the words i am reading. i am no intellectual, and i usually have a very difficult time reading more than a few paragraphs of most 19th century radical writers - or i guess more accurately, (most of the time) their translators. 

i want to have (the "power" for) control over my own life; nothing more, nothing less. 

if that is in fact what nietzsche intended to express, i would argue that either his words or his translators' do a poor job of expressing that. at least those (admittedly limited) words that i myself have read. and definitely the words i quoted at the top of this comment would seem to have a different intent entirely. 

I agree that it's a clear statement, and I also agree that it's hard to feel an affinity with it. I just don't think my affinity with it or not is exactly what's at stake.

What I mean is that this is part of Nietzsche's ontology, and he would basically say that even if you don't think you are striving to become master over all space, extend your force, etc., really you do have this desire, (in N's sense, though: not in the sense that everyone is a capitalist and a colonizer deep down) and that furthermore your sense that your desires are confined to your own self and your own life is one of the things that makes it difficult to assess what those desires actually are.

1 Answer

+2 votes
i think it's fair to say that this premise is one that i agree with, overall. i don't like the perfectability point, as i associate perfection with a static state that is not desirable (nor, i think, possible). i also think that N's quote is too easy to read as individualistic, and i reject that (that reading, at least).
by (53.1k points)
i think perfection is impossible to achieve and it is absurd to try. but it is important accept the absurdity and to strive for it anyway; not trying is a static state as well.
i think there's a difference between wanting to be more the person i want to be (more patient, more sensitive to my surroundings, funnier, whatever), and trying to be perfect.

there is no perfect way to be, so trying to be perfect makes no more sense than being perfect.
"there is no perfect way to be" i agree. i think trying to be perfect can look different for everyone. i try to be the perfect seraph i can be. i don't expect anyone else to. trying to be perfect in this sense is just focusing on self-improvement. i guess i use kinda awkward verbiage to express that.
"...i guess i use kinda awkward verbiage to express that."

not really, perfectionism is an alright activity but a stupid goal or fixation.