Nietzsche and Jeremy Corbyn: Best Buds
Oh, Friedrich Niet-zsche
When you think of Jeremy Corbyn, the first philosopher you associate with him is obviously Friedrich Nietzsche.
Ok, maybe not.
Nietzsche, famous for his Übermensch, his declaration of God’s death, and his misappropriation by the Nazis.
Corbyn, famous for being an absolute boy. Just a top lad. The meme politician we all deserve. For better or worse.
Yet the two go together better than you might imagine.
Here, I’ll prove it:
Rejection of Prior Norms
Nietzsche fucking hated Christian morals. He saw ideas like charity and humility as ways for ‘masters’ (the ruling class) to keep their ‘slaves’ (us) weak and impotent.
He turned these moral precepts on their head and suggested that we should instead focus on power and ambition.
Similarly, Jeremy Corbyn spent the entire period of Blair’s reign rejecting almost everything he stood for.
While others saw the compromises and centrism of Blairism as necessary, Corbyn saw them as abhorrent. He was famously vocal against the Iraq war, surely a defining facet of Blairism whether he likes it or not.
While Nietzsche is rejecting this Christian morality, his true purpose in doing so is to implore us to think for ourselves — to come to our own conclusions on meaning.
Similarly, while Corbyn rejected Blairism, he did so in the knowledge that his rejection was not for the sake of it, but to implore Labour to think about what it really wanted to be as a political party.
Since his assent to the leadership in 2015, Corbyn has intentionally and unintentionally shifted the conversation away from Labour as a broad church and towards defining Labour as a single movement (hence Momentum).
Both Corbyn and Nietzsche urge us to look at what we really want to be about — what is it that we should be concerned with — as individuals and as a collective.
Enlightenment Europe was really up its own arse, so thought Nietzsche.
While others saw it as the pinnacle of rationalism and technological advancement, Nietzsche believed it was falling into a crisis of values.
What followed in an early 20th century fraught with intra-continental conflict, arguably proved him right.
In the same vein, most in the Labour party would consider themselves europhiles or euroambivalent at least.
Though Brexit cannot be strictly defined along a left and right axis, there’s certainly more of a propensity for euroscepticism on the right.
But Corbyn, and his closest allies like McDonnell, are very much of the Lexit persuasion.
They have historically at least, believed that Europe, or more specifically the EU, is merely a systemic perpetuation of ultra-capitalist values and only exists to further a neo-liberal agenda.
Time will tell whether they too will be proved right, like Nietzsche.
Okay, time enough. They’re wrong.
The Will to Power
One of Nietzsche’s more famous assertions is that human beings naturally seek power above all else, even survival.
He uses the example of martyrdom to prove this — people are willing to die for a cause and that shows having their cause become reality, i.e. the power to shape how things are, supersedes the desire to merely exist.
Jeremy Corbyn is a fantastic example of the Will to Power.
Prior to his election as leader, he was given absolute no chance of winning.
Then, he fought a second leadership election, and won again.
Finally, he fought a General Election in which it was presumed he’d lose badly, and… well, he lost, but not badly.
And now, there’s a very good chance he could become the next Prime Minister. It’s still an uphill battle, but he is probably the most likely Labour PM for a decade.
All of this has come while facing an almost unprecedented barrage of negative press and hostility from nearly every corner of society.
Corbyn’s Will to Power now supersedes nearly everything else. He has even softened his stance on a wide variety of long-held, staunch beliefs, such as his opposition to Trident, in order to remain leader.
So as unlikely as it may sound, Jeremy Corbyn is, right now, the most Nietzschean politician out there.
And so it would seem, when Labour looked into the abyss, it found Jeremy Corbyn staring right back.
This is part of a series — Philosophy for the Instagram Generation — that tries to answer all sorts of important questions related to how famous philosophers would perceive our modern world.