A Revaluation of All Values: Nietzschean Populism and Covid-19

David McQueen, Francisca Farache Aureliano Da Silva, Georgiana Grigore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


In this chapter the authors explore how the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s reactionary ideas of ‘the herd’ and attitudes to empathy for the weakest members of society have resonated in uncomfortable ways in the response of some populist leaders to the coronavirus pandemic that swept the world in 2020. The chapter outlines aspects of the highly disputed intellectual legacy of Nietzsche, especially in relation to the murderous, eugenicist policies of Nazi Germany. It then explores the notion of ‘herd immunity’ discussed in the pandemic and the apparently casual disregard for the wellbeing of vulnerable groups or the wider safety of citizens by three leaders: Boris Johnson in the UK, Donald Trump in the USA and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. These leaders’ widely noted unpreparedness for, or indifference to, the spread of the virus indicated an alarming lack of social responsibility that was thrown into dramatic relief by the quick, decisive action of other leaders, organisations and businesses.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationValues and Corporate Responsibility
Subtitle of host publicationCSR and Sustainable Development
EditorsFrancisca Farache, Georgina Grigore, Alin Stancu, David McQueen
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9783030524661
ISBN (Print)9783030524654
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2020

Publication series

NameStudies in Governance, Leadership and Responsibility
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2662-1304
ISSN (Electronic)2662-1312


  • Nietzsche
  • Values
  • Covid-19
  • Pandemic
  • Populism
  • Herd immunity


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