A comparison of Nietzsche’s time with our own, from the point of view of Nietzschean critique.
O, great man! It has been almost 120 years since your passing – since the time your philosophy shocked the world, most scathingly profound with your Zarathustra, and when you proclaimed that ‘‘God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.’’1 And you were right! You were right about so many things, and even today your words have penetrated the generations. You had your madman ask what the death of God means for humanity – ‘what were we doing when we unchained this Earth from its sun. Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying as if through an infinite nothing?’2 I am here to tell you that we are still as lost and confused as you predicted. You were not an admirer of this God and His Christianity, but you warned us about the vacuum of nihilism His loss would create, and of the ‘most contemptible man’ – the last man; you warned us that ‘[t]he time is coming when man will no more shoot the arrow of his longing out over mankind, and the string of his bow will have forgotten how to twang’.3 We are now living in this time. Only the very few long to aim high anymore.
We are in the grips of the greatest and most beguiling ascetic priests the world has ever seen. After the great conflicts you predicted – there was much suffering! But the hostilities brought about a momentary redemption and the priests of the new world gained preeminence. These were the priests of science and materialism of whom you spoke. The priests that engineer the marketplace.
People now find their redemption en masse here, O Nietzsche. You said that where ‘solitude ceases, there the market-place begins; and where the market-place begins, there begins the uproar of the great actors and the puzzling of the poisonous flies’, and that ‘[t]he people have little idea of greatness, that is to say: creativeness. But they have a taste for all presenters and actors of great things’.4 The flies now are everywhere. The marketplace and its stench covers the entire globe and there is very little escaping it. One is almost hard-pressed to become a hermit any longer – for the marketplace can now find you wherever you are. It beams itself through the air and wheedles refuge in the devices in everyone’s pocket. You said that all great things happen away from the marketplace – but today there are precious few places the marketplace cannot penetrate.
These new super-devices, O Nietzsche… almost everyone has them. This cannot be what you meant by man being ‘a rope, fastened between animal and Superman – a rope over an abyss’.5 For men are working feverishly and unconsciously, like bees in one great invisible hive, to create our replacement in machines. Are we to merge with the machine and become transhuman? Or are we to give birth to the next phase of being and to be crushed under its great weight? The immortals are coming, Nietzsche, but I do not think they will ever really live. The abyss now faces its own annihilation; for the continuity of life’s archetypal history, developed over billions of years, finds no continuity in machines. The God of Christianity is dead, and now everyone is working, day and night, to create the God of Materialism – and they will call it artificial intelligence.
These last men you spoke of, they are also everywhere; always clutching their little machines. Their faces are glued to the marketplace they carry in their palms. They are forgetting how to speak with other humans. They cradle their devices, they fondle their devices, and they even make love to their devices. Decadence is all around us. The immortal machines are buying our future with all the trappings of the marketplace and every possible desire is only a finger swipe away. You told us that if
[you] refuse to let your own suffering lie upon you for an hour and if you constantly try to prevent and forestall all possible stress way ahead of time; if you experience suffering and displeasure as evil, hateful, worthy of annihilation, and as a defect of existence, then it is clear that besides your religion of pity you also harbor another religion in your heart that is perhaps the mother of the religion of pity: the religion of comfortableness.6
The need to eliminate all suffering and attain instant gratification is a prominent feature of the herd today. And at the subtlest hint of discontent, they bury their faces in a digital book of faces, or place an order for anything their hearts desire from the greatest of all marketplaces they call the Amazon. Now whatever they desire is brought to their door, only days later. One must not even leave one’s home to satisfy every whim. Anything in the world can be acquired.
This game we are all playing called progress will never make us happier, O Nietzsche. By removing and exterminating all the real threats to our existence and bubble-wrapping the world to prevent all injury, we are not eliminating suffering. Instead we are multiplying the number of incompetent and decadent people that suffer much more, and over the most trivial things.
The will to equality is certainly the dominant will today. As you said, ‘[t]hey belong, briefly and sadly, among the levelers – these falsely so-called “free spirits” – being eloquent and prolifically scribbling slaves of the democratic taste and its “modern ideas”’.7 The will to equality is institutionalized and wears the guise of security and freedom. Are you not vindicated in all you wrote? The will to equality is a powerful force – and oh, how everyone in the West now capitulates to it. You were right in saying that ‘the democratic movement is not only a form of the decay of political organization but a form of the decay, namely the diminution, of man, making him mediocre and lowering his value’.8 They call its latest project multiculturalism. But it achieves the exact opposite of what it promises. All the wills of the world are being blended together, and like too much paint mixed on a palette, the result is grey. The great peoples of the world are committing suicide with their constant compromise. And the mandate is: all must be the same. So that the marketplace has access to everyone! Everything once interesting, rare, and unique must be commercialized and made available to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Did you not say that whatever becomes common has little value? Everything has been made common; nothing has any value anymore.
Democratic and social-welfare society protects, and allows to multiply, all those who would otherwise perish without it. It does so out of pity and compassion – to make content – but it achieves its opposite, generating clueless, unoriginal, and mediocre persons who haven’t the faintest connection with, or understanding of, the earth that sustains them. Instead they waddle around, plugged into all the great life-support systems that are designed to fulfil their every whim, all the while complaining that they are somehow oppressed. By what? The grocery store on every street corner? The eradication of most venereal diseases? The ability to read and write? – They have it but they don’t use it, otherwise they would gain some perspective. When you were alive Nietzsche, half of all children born died before the age of ten in Europe – now, almost all survive. And yet you wouldn’t know any of this by talking to them. Across the world the standard of living is increasing while the amount of hatred, misery and resentment increases apace. Are you not surprised?
To command has become the ultimate indicator of evil in the West. So much so that children are educated to be ashamed of their heritage and apologize for their own existence – a constant sorry-saying. Because the West once commanded, everyone is embarrassed by the West. They cry out that ‘the West once did bad things; therefore its entire history is bad and must be deconstructed!’ The powers of Europe and North America are in decline and any assertion to maintain or preserve them is always preceded by – an apology. Must one apologize for commanding? Original sin never left the West with the death of God, and everyone’s repentance for merely being born is nauseating. You said that all living creatures are obedient creatures and that ‘he who cannot command will be commanded’.9 The leaders in the West are ashamed to command, and so they warm the seat for those still strong enough to overcome them.
Men and women, O Nietzsche, are being coerced to occupy the same roles – even against their will. They call all things masculine, toxic. As for women, they are a great casualty of this modern reality. They have been convinced that the feminine is a bad thing – and so many of them are jumping off their own sinking ship. They swim for the shore that is man, not realizing that it, too, will capsize from such a colossal imbalance. The new feminists have stopped being proud of all that is feminine – these are the last-women. Women have been told that to be female, to raise children, to wear dresses is unworthy of the good life. And so they all strive to be like men. Not real men, for that is deemed septic – but last men. Small men, who obey with no master; emasculated men – to whom the will to power is wholly foreign. They create nothing. They fight for nothing. All they do is consume and gaze at the mechanical oracle in their palms. Little men who are drifting ever nearer towards a cliff. ‘No herdsman and one herd. Everyone wants the same thing, everyone is the same: whoever thinks otherwise goes voluntarily into the madhouse’.10
Men need to build, protect, provide, innovate and do battle with reality. When this is properly directed, great civilizational triumphs are achieved. When it isn’t, this instinct can be deflected into war and violence. The ascetic priests are clever and redirect men’s ressentiment with the prescribing of these ‘petty pleasures, that [are] easily attainable and can be made into a regular event’.11 Today these are called ‘video games’. And oh, how many men turn away from life to dwell within these screens! And who can blame them? It is one of the only places left they can find any masculine satisfaction – in the simulation! Here, they become kings; here, they fight and cooperate in male gangs, as their ancestors once did in the flesh. Meanwhile, their muscles atrophy and they become despondent and depressed. The ascetic priests have found a way to reduce orgies of feeling, which once resulted in real violence, to the simulation, but this will only occupy men for so long. Some of them continue through despite everything and realize it was all a farce; some turn around and go down the road of addiction, alcoholism and even suicide. Others rape and pull triggers to exact revenge on all being.
You said that ‘[t]he darkening of the sky above man has deepened in step with the increase in man’s feeling of shame at man’.12 It is true that masculinity can be dangerous, but what is more dangerous than these frustrated, resentful and jealous boys who never became men and never had any strong male role-models? These are the ones we should fear. These are the ones who riddle their schools with bullets when all this internalized masculine shame is suppressed and finds no healthy external outlet. And the modern West is producing these castrated killers at an ever-increasing rate – and they blame it on masculinity! But the true fault is with a lack thereof.
And now, like your pronouncement of the death of God, I have my own pronouncement to make: the death of the patriarchy. And oh, what consequences this too will have. All things masculine and feminine are scorned. Now, more and more women and men rush towards the middle and reject their sex. Ressentiment in them has become so perverse, so internalized and so powerful that now they look at their own natural bodies and say ‘no!’ The lion roars at itself in the mirror. And so they cease being men and women all together and become—nothing. Self-identities defined by what they aren’t, rather than what they are. This ‘hatred of the human, and even more of the animal, and more still the material, this horror of the senses, of reason itself, this fear of happiness and beauty, this longing to get away from all appearance, change, becoming, death, wishing, from longing itself – all this means… a will to nothingness, an aversion to life, a rebellion against the most fundamental presuppositions of life’.13 Many practice a will to nothingness that is so strong, they even chemically and surgically neuter or spay themselves, cutting their drives out of themselves. In neutrality alone can they find their adored equality.
Modern people are neither afterworldsmen, nor men of the earth. But they are certainly nihilists. And all these nihilists will not rest until all that is opposite, all that is different and polar, stops repelling. They are jealous of masculine virility and female muliebrity – opposites that derive their power from each other. The war against the sexes is a war against life, but to embrace these beautiful differences – politically incorrect hate!
Yet the last-women have no respect for the last-men. They poison the patriarchy of the West and leave the door wide open for stronger patriarchies from the East and South which have their own law-tables: sharia, Russia, China. There are still men in those places who command; who will protect us from them? The last-men? Manliness will be persecuted unto its destruction, and we will scream for it in vain when it is needed.
If you want to eliminate patriarchy, you last-men and women, you must eliminate all of them, otherwise your kneeling king will be decapitated and replaced. And we will all be forced back into bondage by men, and be sure, they will not be as ‘nice’ as your last-men. Look to Rotherham and Telford: Western women may wear the burka yet. For the Muslims still have their will to power intact – even while the West’s is systematically dismantled. Is this not how things go? Not all Gods died, O Nietzsche – only the West’s Almighty was so brutally slain! Allah is alive and well. Like Rome, the West may fall, and the more instinctual, strong and primal will overtake them! What did Voltaire say? That ‘[h]istory is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up’.14 We, too, can read weather signs. ‘Life itself is essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of what is alien and weaker; suppression, hardness, imposition of one’s own forms, and the ones with the most self-overcoming will prevail’.15 The West is weak, apologetic and decadent – ripe for the taking.
Alas, O Nietzsche, even to write these words today is heresy. For everything offends the herd and they call all that disagrees with their delicate sensibilities a hate crime. To offend the emotions is the greatest crime of the future. But nobility offends them, and so all evidence of past nobility is being eradicated. They topple statues, the reminders of yesterday, all in the name of tolerance. Is this what you meant when you said, ‘[t]hus all that is past is handed over: for the mob could one day become master, and all time be drowned in shallow pools’?16 They are drowning everything – the patriarchy’s head is submerged and gagging in a bathtub. Surely, they are shattering the old law-tables; but all that they leave is the will to equality!
What happens when the earth’s plates are molded into even plains but not allowed to shoot out great mountains? Does the earth not accumulate great pressure? Is all such pressure not eventually released in earthquakes and rising volcanos such as shake and shatter the plains? So it is with the will to equality – especially at the points of intersection where the pressure becomes highest. This is what it means to be oppressed: to live at the border of as many fault lines as possible, and then to blame the mountains for all of the violent shaking!
And oh how they all cannibalize one another, O Nietzsche. You are right again – the lubrication of equality is hatred. They ‘resemble inspired men: but it is not the heart that inspires them – it is revenge’.17 One may wish to make oneself as flat as possible, but woe if one finds one has accidentally occupied some small hill. How quickly one is surrounded and eviscerated by the mob! You advised us to ‘[m]istrust all in whom the urge to punish is strong!’18 They wish to punish all who create, all who stand on their own two legs. Everyone wants the state to help those with shaky legs, until the whole human experiment is propped up on shaky legs. And fewer and fewer seek to help themselves. Everything that the coldest of all cold monsters – as you called it – the state, does for you, is that which you will learn to forget to do for yourself.
And many of them do this in your name, O Nietzsche, but I know you would never have condoned it. They call it being critical, and cite your example. They talk about power, and indeed it is all they see. Did Zarathustra not tell his followers that one repays a teacher badly if one only remains a pupil? Oh, how many of your so-called pupils never heeded your warning? You praised the will to power – and they use it to undermine all power. Wherever they see it, they scream: ‘Oppression!’ Your idea of the will to power has been weaponized by ‘the “will to equality” – that itself shall henceforth be the name of virtue; and [they] raise outcry against everything that has power!’19 Power is everywhere – but whoever has it now is evil. You said to them, ‘You preachers of equality, thus from you the tyrant madness of impotence cries for “equality”: thus your most secret tyrant-appetite disguises itself in words of virtue’.20 And yet some of your most dedicated followers are the biggest tarantulas. They did not listen to you, or they read you superficially or selectively. But you knew this would happen. How could so many people miss the explosion of your dynamite? Master morality finds no favour in a future where your words are manipulated into saying ‘no!’ to the very concept of power itself.
They put on masks with your face, they point to your example, and they think you wanted all this! They skimmed over everything you said about masters and retained only what you said about the smashing of law-tables. No hierarchy shall exist. No difference between man and man. No better than or worse than; no recognition of skill, of merit, of competency. All equal – equal in mundanity. To thrive is the greatest offence to the group. And so everyone who has a moment’s advantage is devoured alive and cannibalized by the herd – and they do this, because they believe you told them to! Neo-Nietzscheans – but there should never have been such a thing.
‘Critical theory’ is mostly critical of greatness. They wish for a postmodernity – I wish for it too – but to them all it seems to mean is post-beauty, post-strength, post-striving – post everything masterful. The only ‘post’ allowed to stand erect is conformity and equality. The cross, the phallus, the breast – all whipped flaccid! Life is a will to power, like you said, and your students are using it to undermine all power – alas, more life-deniers! They sacrifice themselves on the altar of equality!
So the poor and suffering increase with each generation, regardless of how middle-class they are. They demand the state carry their existence like one big extended womb and the cycle of misery and mundanity continues until some kind of mass cataclysmic event wipes everyone out, every fractured ‘identity advocacy group’ wages war on every other, stronger people come and take command – or the machines take command of everything.
As you said, O Nietzsche, they must always have a master. And their master may be the machines! Every aspect of their lives will be self-regulated by this automated and impersonal leviathan. Men and women will no longer exist. They will be made in the image of their new God – completely sexless. Eggs and sperm will be harvested, combined and incubated in artificial uteruses. People will be placed in a so-called utopia, where all struggle is removed, all difference made illegal, and ‘happiness’ mandatory. And the steely ascetic priests will develop all forms of virtual entertainment and counterfeit pleasures. I cannot think of a worse hell than this utopia. Land of the all-the-same, where an all-encompassing boredom would render anyone with anything of wits into a maniac. The only thing left of value to do in a utopia is to break it. Humans need challenge! Humans must struggle and overcome! This implies difference. This implies hierarchy. This implies freedom to fail. Utopia is the afterworld brought down to earth. O Nietzsche, you said it! But nobody listened. It is not too late to overcome ourselves and avoid this fate – but time is running out.
Thus I look up to you Nietzsche. Dionysus? – Zarathustra! And I speak!
1Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 1974), 171.
3Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (London: Penguin Classics, 1961), 5.
4Ibid., p. 78.
5Ibid., p. 43.
6Friedrich Nietzsche, Basic Writings of Nietzsche, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 2000), p. 338. Taken from Beyond Good and Evil.
7Ibid., p. 244.
8Ibid., p. 307.
9Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (London: Penguin Classics, 1961), p.137.
10Ibid., p. 46.
11Friedrich Nietzsche, Basic Writings of Nietzsche, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 2000), p. 571. Taken from The Genealogy of Morals.
12Ibid., p. 503.
13Ibid., p. 599.
14Quote attributed to Voltaire, source unknown.
15Friedrich Nietzsche, Basic Writings of Nietzsche, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 2000), p. 393. Taken from, Beyond Good and Evil.
16Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, trans. R.J Hollingdale (London: Penguin Classics, 1961), p.220.
17Ibid. p. 124.
19Ibid. p. 123