Apologies for doing ‘the most internet thing of all.’ I accept this criticism to some extent, although the idea that my comment didn’t require ‘any kind of thought whatsoever’ is slightly unfair. In reality it required me to think: I don’t like this guy’s interpretation of Nietzsche. In fact, it reminds me of the Nazi’s interpretation of Nietzsche. I feel a pithy comment coming on…
In order to expand on my point, I must first establish that I am no Nietzsche expert. I am, however, fascinated by how people interpret his work, which is why I searched for ‘nietzsche’ on Medium. Yours was the first article that came up. Congrats!
Nietzsche was a bit of a rebel. He rejected tradition in the form of Christian morality and embraced nihilism (or, more specifically, active nihilism), which sounds like a lot of hard work to me. Apparently he often suffered from ‘migraines,’ which is the kind of thing a depressed person tells people when they’re too sad to go outside. Before his death he was diagnosed with ‘general paralysis of the insane.’ FUN GUY.
All this is to say, even he apparently found it difficult to interpret his own work, so you’re not alone.
The first problem I had with your post is that you try to establish as ‘fact’ that American society is mainly characterised by brutalism, the idea of cruelty as virtue and a ‘might is right’ philosophy.
You say, ‘Here we are speaking about facts- not my or your opinion.’ Citation, please. I don’t know where to start with this- it makes me wonder what your experience of America is.
So, you seem to be very industrious. You have a post called ‘My consulting practice’ where you write: ‘I helped run one of the world’s largest ad agencies for many years, wrote hundreds of columns at Harvard Business Review, and have written two books about the economy and business. If you’re interested in my perspective and approach, they’re probably a good place to start.’
So, you’ve obviously had some success, and I’m presuming most of this success took place in America. It doesn’t seem like you got to where you are today via a relentless campaign of brutalism and cruelty.
You are an expression of what characterises America, and America is clearly much more than the two dimensional image of its culture you claim to be fact. Claiming as fact something that is OBVIOUSLY your (ill-founded) opinion is as convincing a rhetorical device as ending a response to a comment with ‘thanks for proving my point!’
The argument you make in your original article about Nietzsche is also based on an extremely two dimensional interpretation. It’s a crude representation of one of the most fascinating and complex philosophers of the Western world. It would be like if I drew a stick man with tits and told you it was Botecelli’s The Birth of Venus.
You take his concept of ‘the will to power’ and seemingly define ‘power’ as naked self interest at the expense of all others. Yes, Nietzsche went on a lot about the ‘Overman,’ but he also liked to think about the idea of ‘eternal recurrence.’ This essentially boils down to living your life in the manner of someone who might have to experience it over and over again, forever. I think he thought people should look within themselves to find meaning, and that only members of the herd would unquestioningly submit to Christian morality.
I don’t think he thought the death of God would be a good thing for society. In fact, with your interpretation of the current state of American culture, you could probably get a lot out of Nietzsche if you dug a little deeper. The kind of moral decline you worry about in your article is exactly the kind of thing Nietzsche was afraid of.
Nietzsche’s pretty difficult to get into since he can compact so much meaning into one paragraph (something I could clearly learn from), and a lot of his writing is comprised of small streams of consciousness broken into different parts. If you’re particularly busy, these videos from The Academy of Ideas channel on Youtube do a good job of distilling some of his most interesting concepts.
Anyway, thanks for the response and please have a nice day, even if that day is filled with ‘socially useless things like plastic surgery for butt implants’ and other modern expressions of the American Dream that Nietzsche would clearly have loved so much. In fact, I think he covers butt implants somewhere in The Gay Science but I can’t find the right page at the moment. I’ll let you know.