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Nietzsche’s Political Economy – The aporias of industrial culture: slavery, debt and the division of labour



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Safronov, Dmitri 


Nietzsche’s Political Economy The aporias of industrial culture: slavery, debt and the division of labour ~ by Dmitri G. Safronov


This study commences by identifying twin gaps in the scholarship on Nietzsche’s thinking on political economy. Only scant recognition of it can at present be found within the existing Nietzsche scholarship. Neither does the field of political economy, past or present, register Nietzsche as one of its worthwhile contributors. This thesis contests the prevailing view that Nietzsche has nothing, or nothing of consequence, to say on the subject. Its aim is to introduce Nietzsche as a critical thinker on the matters of political economy, whose varied and complex insight resonates with undiminished pertinence today. Set against these considerations, the research question underpinning this thesis is twofold: (a) can political economy in Nietzsche’s corpus be regarded as constituting a persistent intellectual concern of his? and (b) what might be today’s purchasing power of Nietzsche’s thinking on the pressing issues of political economy? The approach taken to tackling this research question, is to examine three key interrelated topologies within Nietzsche’s body of thought. Namely, those of the division of labour, slavery and debt. This thesis contends that Nietzsche’s reflections on these themes, which are also central to any conversation on political economy, help to establish clear and relevant connections to our present reality. This is particularly so in the case of our understanding of the developing crisis of the political economy of industrial culture, which Nietzsche scrutinises in his critique. It is further contended that in order to render the ‘old problems unfinished’ and in need of being ‘raised anew’ (NF-1887:9[185]), Nietzsche constructs a distinctive frame of reference to examine the value of industrial culture’s values. This approach provides a powerful intellectual lens currently missing from the academic discussion on the aforementioned issues, as well as from the broader conversation concerning humankind’s development and the stewardship of an increasingly global political economy. In this respect, this thesis contends that Nietzsche’s ‘untimely’ contribution merits further critical investigation that should be of interest, in terms of further research, within the context of the Nietzsche scholarship, as well as within the discipline of political economy.

Date: 25 June 2020





Wydra, HB


Nietzsche, political economy, debt, division of labour, slavery, slave morality


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge