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Labyrinths of the future: Nietzsche's genealogy of nationalism

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  • Philosophy
  • Political Science


In light of the continued primacy of national identities in European politics, this article considers the earlier and largely unexplored genealogy of modern European nationalism advanced by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche towards the end of the nineteenth century. It argues that by analysing the rise of modern nationalism in Europe within the broader context of European nihilism, Nietzsche was able to gain original insights both about the appeal of national ideas in Europe and about why such ideas were perpetuated. On the basis of this unique understanding Nietzsche subsequently developed an innovative critique of modern nationalism that remains pertinent not only for the contemporary debate on Europe, but also for current attempts to theorize the rise of modern nationalism in Europe. Nietzsche's own idea of the 'good Europeans', in turn, is one that transcends nationalist perspectives without, however, replacing the former with an essentialist idea of Europe.

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