Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Nietzsche in Wall Street

This is an interesting article that a friend of mine wrote concerning Nietzsche's philosophy in the movie Wall Street. I found it fairly interesting. Enjoy.

The movie 'Wall Street' clearly demonstrates one of Nietzsche's more important ideas – the will to power. The main character in the movie, Bud Fox, starts out as an 'average-Joe' trader at a company in New York City, where he works cold-calling people, trying to get them to buy stocks. Fairly dissatisfied with the direction his job seems to be going, Fox calls big-shot investor, Gordon Gecko, fifty-nine days in a row, asking for a chance to set up a meeting. Finally Fox's persistence pays off and Gecko agrees to meet with him. It is at this meeting that Fox's will to power surfaces. When it appears that Gecko is about to end the meeting, Fox makes a desperate last-ditch attempt to win Gecko’s approval, and reveals a private piece of information concerning the airline for which his father works. He tells Gecko that a lawsuit in which the airline was involved, unbeknownst to anyone outside of the company, has been decided in a way favorable to the company's stocks. By 'inside trading' like this, Fox demonstrates that his will to power is stronger than his loyalty to his own father, as well as than his will to truth and honesty. This superiority of the will to power is a part of Nietzsche's philosophy, and an idea that is carried on throughout the movie.

Nietzsche argues that the will to power is the highest and most important aspect of the human personality. Throughout the movie, Bud Fox demonstrates the ability of the will to power to take over a person. Once Fox gets his initial taste of the power and the money he can gain through the illegal practice of inside trading, he can't stop trying for more and more, even to the point where he attempts to 'out-power' the most powerful of the powerful, Gordon Gecko. Working for Gecko, who believes and preaches that “greed is good...greed works,” Fox is surrounded by power-hungry businessmen, much like himself, all competing for the most powerful position. He increasingly becomes more and more dishonest as his will to power keeps growing.

If there was to exist a society based on Nietzsche's idea of the will to power, it would be a very unpleasant society filled with people similar to Bud Fox and Gordon Gecko. It would be 'every man for himself' in a struggle to become the most powerful – the Gordon Gecko of the society. There would be no place for morality or consideration of others. No one could be trusted as, like Bud Fox, people would lie, cheat, and exploit others in order to get ahead. Such a society clearly would not be desirable, as very little happiness can be derived from having nothing other than power and the things that come with it. 'Wall Street' put Nietzsche's philosophies into a real-life setting, demonstrating the way in which the will to power can destroy a person. While Nietzsche does have some valid points in his writings, the movie clearly demonstrates why and how his idea of the will to power could lead to a corrupt and evil society, as well as to the possible downfall of such a society. Bud Fox depicts this through his own personal downfall which ultimately leads to the receding of his will to power. The circle that Fox travels throughout the movie – from demonstrating little will to power, to maximum will to power, and back to having much less will to power – proves, through his experiences at each stage, that the will to power cannot be the basis of a wholesome or successful society.


Anonymous said...

Although Nietzsche would not agree that there should be a society based in Will To Power - he was vehemently against statism, socialism, and any communal arrangement based in ressentiment.