In the third volume of his opus on Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger asks:
‘In what direction does the security of stability of the living being “man” go?’
In other words: what line must the train of history be carried along in order for the stability of humanity to be guaranteed?
Given the ever-present threat of ecological collapse, and the social-political-economic chaos that would result from such a break-down, this question is paramount for humanity at the moment. So …
… what was Heidegger’s answer to the question? And …
… can his analysis, made in 1939, shed any light on our human condition eighty years later?
Heidegger claimed that we are moving ‘In a twofold direction,’ adding: ‘that is already prefigured in the essence of man,’ by which he means, by our relationship to other people and things.
For Heidegger then, or for Nietzsche as Heidegger understood him: ‘Man stands in relation to man, man stands in relation to things.’
From this double relationship a kind of two-fold mutual accordance is made in which individuals relate, not only to the other individuals that make up our societies, but also to the things which we, and those other people, relate to. At first, this seems to be just another way of saying no man is an island, but then Heidegger makes a more committed definition, stating: ‘that accordance in the essential sense is the highest and most difficult struggle, more difficult than war and infinitely remote from pacifism. Accordance is the highest struggle for the essential goals that historical humanity sets up over itself.’ And then, in the same paragraph, he makes a claim which, we believe, makes as much sense now as it would have done in the tragically turbulent 1939: ‘… in the present historical situation, accordance can only mean having the courage for the simple question as to whether the West still dares to create a goal above itself and its history, or whether it prefers to sink to the level of preservation and enhancement of trade interests and entertainments, to be satisfied with appealing to the status quo as if this were absolute.’
However, we would now add that the situation has become so grave that the ‘daring’ attitude has become the dangerously daring one which maintains the status quo, whereas the act of creating a goal above itself and its history would be one of simple good-sense.
The positive view that Heidegger’s logic shows us, is that the direction towards a higher goal is no more difficult than the pursuit of the status quo: it is all just a matter of accordance. To go either way, the same procedure has to be followed – we have to be able to count on each other. In either case, we must think ahead ‘to a horizon that contains directives and rules in accordance with which what throngs towards us is caught and secured.’ To go forward unto a Utopia, is no different to creating the Dystopia that promises to arise if we maintain the status quo. Whichever way we go, the choice must be made by establishing a process of accordance.
According to Heidegger/Nietzschean logic: ‘Representing beings and thinking rationally are the praxis of life, the primordial securing of permanence for itself,’ and in order to secure permanence today, humanity has to move in a direction that goes above and beyond the status quo that we have today. In order for survival to be guaranteed, a doctrine of permanence needs to be accorded; a doctrine that can replace the internecine doctrine of constant, economic growth that currently drives the status-quo, and which threatens rather than guarantees safety and survival.
 Martin Heidegger, NIETZSCHE, Volumes III and IV, ed. David Farrell Krell; Harper Collins, 1991; p.90
 Ibid, p.91
 Ibid, p. 92