Nietszche and the Marginalists

by Henry Farrell on May 14, 2013

A kind of coda and suggestion for future work regarding Corey’s “essay”: on the links between Nietzschian thought and modern economics. In one respect, I’d ask whether there may be stronger connections than Corey suggests. In particular, I can’t help wondering whether Max Weber might be an interesting vector of contagion. His more sociologically inflected account of the economy clearly had great influence on the Austrians whom Corey is interested in, but his later work, especially “Politics as a Vocation”:, has strong and explicit Nietzschian overtones. However, for Weber, politics rather than the market is the “theater of self-disclosure, the stage upon which we discover and reveal our ultimate ends.” His heroes are politicians, who attach themselves to an end, follow a particular god despite that end’s radical contingency – the value of politics is that it provides a ground in which these very few individuals can fully develop themselves through struggle with others holding equally strongly to other gods who are equally contingent.

Weber’s political aristocracy, however, has little directly to do with the actual aristocracy of German politics in the early twentieth century, despite his right wing views. It’s clear that those on the left, as well as those conventionally subject to contempt as journalists and scribblers can be as heroic as those on the right, as long as they recognize and embrace the paradoxes of political action. It seems to me at least possible that this account might have served as a bridge, through which Nietzschian influences might have escaped into economic thought. If this were so, though, it would suggest that the key was not marginalism, so much as a very particular interpretation of marginalism by Austrians, whose relationship to mainstream economics has always been rather awkward.
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Do not name these things

by Miriam Elizabeth Burstein on May 14, 2013

Mash-ups are everywhere these days: zombies keep finding their way into historical novels, and softcore porn into _Jane Eyre._ Making genres and modes collide is hardly a new thing; what is Arthur Conan Doyle’s _The Hound of the Baskervilles,_ after all, but dear rational Sherlock Holmes startled to find himself set loose in Bronte-esque Gothic? But Holmes vanquishes his Gothic surroundings, so that we are all back on familiar, if not entirely comforting (poor Sir Henry Baskerville…) formula territory at the end. By contrast, the vogue for zombified historical novels, vampirized Austen, and sexed-up Dickens doesn’t resolve the conflicts between genres and modes so much as play them up for all their worth: yes, ladies and gentlemen, honest Abe hunted vampires. [click to continue…]