Posthumous interview with Nietzsche: ‘Alt-right, I am not on your side!’
More than a century after his death, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) gives a final interview, to set the record straight.
You are a controversial philosopher Herr Nietzsche. Perhaps the most controversial philosopher of all time.
‘And that’s just how I like it. Philosophy should always be a little violent. I am the philosopher with the hammer. I’m not a man, I’m dynamite.’
The Nazis often referred to your ideas. What do you think of that?
‘Not that old nutmeg! You have to understand that I did not have the opportunity to shape my legacy myself. I have a sister, a younger sister, with Nazi sympathies. While I was sick and bedridden, she distorted and falsified my work, and then circulated it widely. Years before, she had run off to Panama with her husband to establish an agrarian colony. Nueva Germania it was called. Her Paraguayan adventure was a failure — too many mosquitoes, too little money, her husband died. So she came back to Germany, full of rancour and racial hatred, and set about ruining my life. That is how my complex ideas were presented as a sort of Nazism for dummies.’
But your work undoubtedly contains aspects that are appealing to those with Nazi sympathies. You write, for example, about ‘the blonde beast’.
‘I was referring to a lion! The blonde beast is a lion, not an Arian!’
You are now once again popular with the extreme right. Richard Spencer, the face of alt-right, for example, said that your philosophy ‘red-pilled’ him, woke him up. Why is your philosophy so appealing to him?
‘I am no fan of conventions, virtues or good manners. For those, you need to talk to Immanuel Kant. Who wants to be virtuous? I think that a lot of young people feel attracted to a philosophy that breaks through taboos.’
Why do you do that? Break through taboos?
‘First, we should ask ourselves where those taboos come from. From God, or religion? Not at all. From reason and logic? Even less so. Morality reflects the will to have power. Why, you ask, do we value humility and restraint? Let me explain: once morality honoured everything that was strong, good and full of life. But the weak created their own morality, in which they were the best. They extolled the characteristics that they had and cursed what they could not get. Powerlessness was framed as absolution. Asexuality became chastity. Poverty became humility. That is what I call ‘slave morality’. Christendom is the ultimate example. Thanks to a nonsensical story of heaven and hell, even the strong believed that it was better to be weak. Such a morality poisons us. Instead of celebrating life, we turn our eyes to the heavens. Instead of aiming for greatness, we tyrannize ourselves until we fulfil a norm of weakness.’
Alt-right also wants to break through taboos. They are critical of a politically correct culture that, in their opinion, glorifies victims.
‘Breaking through taboos is something positive. Struggle, including a struggle of ideas, is good for us. Controversial figures are all too often rejected because they do not behave decently. That is exactly the kind of restrictive attitude that I take issue with. But that does not mean to say that I am on the side of alt-right.’
‘They may well agitate against the status quo, but do they have their own,life-confirming philosophy to offer? Ultimately, white supremacy is also an ideology that lulls people to sleep. Rather than tackling their problems, they get stuck in their obscure internet forums and are satisfied with the simple fact that they are white. As a philosophy, white supremacy has nothing to offer them, except an inflated ego and nostalgia for an imaginary past. They waste away in the shadow of a dead God.’
Doesn’t that apply to all of us? You yourself pronounced God dead.
‘Precisely because God is dead, we have a unique responsibility — a unique opportunity! — to create the world ourselves. There is nothing, so there can be everything. We have to recreate ourselves as artists. There’s no point in whining on about angry feminists or snowflakes — no, anyone who takes my philosophy seriously has to make their own way in the world. And that means saying yes to the struggle, to all the pain and all the pleasure, because that is what it means to say yes to life. We should not look back nostalgically at the past. Dare to live dangerously! Dare to face the future! So that, one day, humans can form a bridge between the beast and the super-human.’