Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Rebel, Entry 6, Nietzsche part 2

     Camus moves from Nietzsche's assault on Christianity to his assault on socialism. Unfortunately, his assault on socialism bears some superficial commonality with the attitudes of the Randians. But Nietzsche was anything but some capitalist. He had Homeric heroes in mind, not dull boardrooms.

"Socialism is only a degenerate form of Christianity. In fact, it preserves a belief in the finality of history which betrays life and nature, which substitutes ideal ends for real ends, and contributes to enervating both the will and the imagination. Socialism is nihilistic, in the henceforth precise sense that Nietzsche confers on the word. A nihilist is not one who believes in nothing, but one who does not believe in what exists. In this sense, all forms of socialism are manifestations, degraded once again, of Christian decadence."(pg. 69)

Socialism is committed to values of equality which ultimately derive from a religious root. It is therefore just as nihilistic. But Nietzsche prefers the 'great spirited' overman to the capitalist rule follower. Nietzsche's modern hero is Goethe, an artist who actualized himself. As Camus says:

"Nietzsche clamored for a Roman Caesar with the soul of Christ."(pg. 77)

Camus asserts that Nietzsche fails to realize that "socialist emancipation must, by an inevitable logic of nihilism, lead to what he himself dreamed of: superhumanity.(pg.78) I'm still thinking about this. Socialist emancipation, I take it from capitalist domination, according to Camus, is a road to Nietzsche's ideal? Camus goes on to say that Nietzsche's philosophy leads, in concert with Marx, with politburos or capitalists with a Caesar complex:

"The great rebel thus creates with his own hands, and for his own imprisonment, the implacable reign of necessity. Once he had escaped from God's prison, his first care was to construct the prison of history and of reason, thus putting the finishing touch to the camouflage and consecration of the nihilism whose conquest he claimed."(pg. 81)

Well, I'm still thinking this out and I'm not sure I understand this passage. What I can say is that rebelling against humanitarianism and the freethinkers, which Nietzsche most certainly advocated, leads to domination by a few 'supermen' who are not, I assume, what Nietzsche had in mind at all. Rather, they are the same corrupt politicians and business leaders Nietzsche surely disdained in his own day.

     I suppose I have to say here that I've always thought of Nietzsche's ideal as the ravings of someone who read too much romantic literature or poetry. Such things/people are not part of the reality in which we find ourselves. In the long run, the humanitarians, the Bertrand Russells and E.M. Forsters of the world, are more on the right track. That's right, I've come full circle to advocating Russell, whose work on happiness I said read like a Disney script.  So it goes.

Next, the poets...

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