Nietzsche and Napoleon

The Dionysian Conspiracy

Author(s): Don Dombowsky

Language: English

Genre(s): History

Series: Political Philosophy Now

  • September 2014 · 240pages · 216x138mm

  • ·Hardback - 9781783160969
  • · eBook - epub - 9781783160983
  • · eBook - mobi - 9781783160990
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781783160976

About The Book

This book argues that Nietzsche's political thought and his own proposed model of governance is Bonapartist in conception: autocratic will in the guise of popular rule. Bonaparte is the model for the Nietzschean commander; not only his virtu, his ethics of martial valour, but his political institutions and techniques of power. Nietzsche understood that Napoleon manipulated the democratic process, abandoned the concept of popular sovereignty and undermined the principle of equality, that he was opposed to parliamentary politics but maintained their simulacra, a manoeuvre Nietzsche admired in respect of tactics. Nietzsche desired a revaluation of all values which endorsed many features of the Bonapartist regime. One can see Nietzsche not merely situated in the Napoleonic historiography of the cult of personality, but also situated ideologically in terms of a Napoleonic political policy and theory of government, in so far as he affirms certain political structures of the Napoleonic Empire. Nietzsche moves beyond the Napoleonic cult of personality to an analysis of the underlying structures of the Napoleonic empire. Nietzsche admires the 'artist of government' Napoleon (Napoleonic Caesarism) not only for his force of will but also for his political policies and tactics or political techniques.ContentsIntroduction

: The Dionysian Conspiracy1. Sources, Cults and Criticism: Nietzsche’s Portrait of Napoleon1.) In the Gilded Orbit of the ‘Ideal Artists’2.) Nietzsche’s Napoleon: Against Thomas Carlyle’s Cult of the Hero3.) Nietzsche’s Napoleon: A Polemic4.) The Artist of Government2. Aristocratic Radicalism as a Species of Bonapartism1.) From Character-type to Structure2.) Nietzsche’s Understanding of Bonapartism3.) Nietzsche and the Underlying Structures of the Bonapartist Empire (1799–1815)4.) Aristocratic Radicalism3. Napoleon III: ‘déshonneur’1.) Caesarism2.) Nietzsche and the Underlying Structures of the Second Empire (1851–1870)3.) Nietzsche’s Rejection of Napoleon III4.) Nietzsche’s Immanent Critique of Bonapartism5.) Nietzsche’s Radical Bonapartist AllianceConclusion: The Imperial European Future


‘Read as sequel to his seminal Nietzsche and Machiavelli, Dom Dombowsky’s book is a major contribution to our ongoing search for the absent cause or signifier of Nietzsche’s intentionally illusive articulation of his version of nihilism with his equally misunderstood and concomitant political project. Combining astute textual analysis with broad historical understanding, Nietzsche and Napoleon is a significant publishing event.’
–Geoff Waite, Cornell University, author of Nietzsche’s Corps/e

‘This is a ground-breaking study of Nietzsche’s Caesarism and Bonapartism – two of the most promising inlets into Nietzsche’s political thought. Dombowsky provides us with a thorough and systematic, yet subtle study that offers a unifying reading of Nietzsche’s pronouncements on politics, and sheds new light on their relationship to historical events. Drawing upon a wealth of sources, both scholarly and literary, Nietzsche and Napoleon has all the hallmarks of becoming a reference work in the field.’
–Hugo Drochon, University of Cambridge


Introduction: The Dionysian Conspiracy
1. Sources, Cults and Criticism: Nietzsche’s Portrait of Napoleon
1. In the Gilded Orbit of the ‘Ideal Artists’
2. Nietzsche’s Napoleon: Against Thomas Carlyle’s Cult of the Hero
3. Nietzsche’s Napoleon: A Polemic
4. The Artist of Government
2. Aristocratic Radicalism as a Species of Bonapartism
1. From Character-type to Structure
2. Nietzsche’s Understanding of Bonapartism
3. Nietzsche and the Underlying Structures of the Bonapartist Empire (1799–1815)
4. Aristocratic Radicalism
3. Napoleon III: ‘déshonneur’
1. Caesarism
2. Nietzsche and the Underlying Structures of the Second Empire (1851–1870)
3. Nietzsche’s Rejection of Napoleon III
4. Nietzsche’s Immanent Critique of Bonapartism
5. Nietzsche’s Radical Bonapartist Alliance
Conclusion: The Imperial European Future

About the Author(s)

Don Dombowsky

Don Dombowsky is Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies and in the Department of Philosophy, Bishop's University, Canada.

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