But what's alive is the ideological system that defeated national socialism – which committed plenty of atrocities of its own. Of our own. When we think about crimes from the last century, it seems more relevant to think about the crimes we committed, not those they committed.
What is fascism/national socialism? It's exactly what everyone thinks it is. The conventional wisdom is perfectly correct. Our historians have a merciless, laser-sharp understanding of everything bad that national socialism was and everything it did wrong. What hasn't been done is turning this same laser on our own institutions and the ideology of progressivism.
Progressives know that people left to their own devices and will-to-power will reach goals commensurate with their intelligence and dexterity. This creates disparate outcomes among the population along a Pareto optimisation, which for some reason they refuse to believe exists. Everyone wants to think of themselves as powerless and/or oppressed. But actual power dynamics are not hard to find.
In contemporary progressive philosophy, the rich are considered sinful (“And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”). This is the basis for the progressive belief that inequality is bad and it comes directly from Christianity. But to remove inequality, people cannot be trusted with freedom, so the progressives must micromanage what people think, not what people do.
That way, in their utopia, the result must be equality. Differences in a progressive utopian future are undesirable because that would lead to inequality. The end-point of this philosophy is to control the individual to the point where there is no individual. In other words, to create a single race, culture, language, ideal, society, government, sex, etc. Uniformity is beautiful. Difference is horror.
It is a wholesale remaking of human beings by building a totalitarian democratic state. This is the philosophy of slaves who cannot accept the tapestry of nature. Their disavowed Christian belief is that evil exists as a force in the universe and it is evil that keeps slaves where they are and masters in their high position. To a slave, it cannot be that he is inadequate. His psychological survival depends on believing in evil and good, and that he occupies the realm of good due to his suffering and pain.
Friedrich Nietzsche had a lot to say about this mindset. He explained that all higher civilisations arose from a will and desire for power by people who preyed upon the weaker, moral and peaceful societies. A healthy society exists for the sake of a higher type of person who can grasp the Will to Power as the dominant principle of organic life. Without the Will to Power exploiting the sentimental idea of equality among weaker people, society cannot develop. The Will to Power is the Will to Life.
Nietzsche says the “over-man” is not subject to the morality of the lower-type of meek and common people who speak of good and evil in terms of equality. He is not subject to the morality of the herd. Morality favours mediocrity and standing beyond good and evil is primarily about rising above the herd.
The two types of morality, according to Nietzsche, are master morality and slave morality. Master morality is a “yes-saying” attitude where “good” and “bad” are equivalent to “noble” and “despicable” and the master creates value. But slave morality is a “nay-saying” attitude from a herd morality which only cares about what is useful or beneficial to the weak or powerless. Their virtues are sympathy, kindness and humility and to the slave, strong and independent individuals are seen as evil.
The history of morals is the conflict of these two moral perspectives. The higher type creates his own values out of strength while the meek and powerless build their morals from resentment. Coexistence is impossible because the herd seeks to impose its values universally. For Nietzsche, vanity is the mark of the meek and powerless. The slave manufactures a good opinion of themselves and is subject to flattery because he knows he doesn’t deserve praise yet believes it when praised by the master since he lacks the ability to create value. Vanity is a consequence of inferiority.
The slave is a weak human being who suffers from his own weakness and is filled with what Nietzsche called “ressentiment,” a brooding hatred of life generated by an impotence against an external reality felt to be overwhelming and threatening.
“There is among men as in every other animal species an excess of failures, of the sick, degenerating, infirm, who suffer necessarily; the successful cases are, among men, too, always the exception.” (Beyond Good and Evil)He says ressentiment makes the slave envy all those who do not suffer as he does, especially the higher human beings. This envy motivates the slave to take revenge on the strong human beings, conspiring together with other slaves so they can feel a communal sense of power – the only type of power available to the slave. Under the pretext of “equality,” the slave tears down to a more mediocre level all those higher than him through the construction of a slave or herd morality.
“The morality that would un-self man is the morality of decline par excellence – the face, “I am declining,” transposed into the imperative, “all of you ought to decline”…This only morality that has been taught so far, that of un-selfing, reveals a will to the end; fundamentally, it negates life.” (Ecco Homo)Their herd morality inverts the natural values of life. The strong and independent person who becomes powerful through his creative endeavours and health is seen by slave or herd morality to be evil. But, all those who belong to the herd, the mediocre Last Man and the weak and impotent slaves – the hateful disguised as judges – are simply slaves who see themselves as on the side of goodness.
“Finally – this is what is more terrible of all – the concept of the good man signifies that one sides with all that is weak, sick, failure, suffering of itself…the principles of selection is crossed – an ideal is fabricated from the contradiction against the proud and well-turned-out human being who says Yes, who is the future, who guarantees the future – and he is now called evil. And all this was believed, as morality!” (Ecco Homo)Nietzsche calls herd morality the “danger of dangers” because it diverts people away from effort. The weak are understandably anxious about the possibility of uncertainty and isolation by failing to achieve greatness. But herd morality is a seduction, offering slaves an excuse to escape the burden of striving, and to return to the comfort of mediocrity in the herd. As slave morality tears down all that is high and extraordinary, nihilism takes over the world.
Without the higher values personified by the higher men, no one will create works of astounding beauty or strive for ideals. Instead, the values of comfort, so valued by the herd, will be worshipped. As a result, the herd will submerge humanity and “existence will be deprived of its great character.”
“We can see nothing today that wants to grow greater, we suspect that things will continue to go down, down, to become thinner, more good-natured, more prudent, more comfortable, more mediocre, more indifferent…Here precisely is what has become a fatality…together with the fear of man we have also lost our love of him, our reverence for him, our hopes for him, even the will to him. The sight of man now makes us weary – what is nihilism today if it is not that? We are weary of man.” (On the Genealogy of Morality)Nietzsche predicted the hateful levelling effect would ruin everything and wanted to give higher men a way to succeed. He knew herd morality is not an objective and universal morality binding on all but is just “one type of human morality beside which, before which, and after which many other types, above all higher moralities, are, or ought to be possible.” While herd morality “says stubbornly…“I am morality itself, and nothing besides is morality,” the higher individual must realise that “the ideas of the herd should rule in the herd – but not reach out beyond it.”
The strong man must pay no attention to a slave’s claims to universal morality, but instead must discover his own higher values to assist him in accomplishing his unifying life project or hero story. The strong man must realise that as an individual with a unique vision of life, his good is his alone. Therefore, he must not preach or impose his higher morality on others.
“My brother, if you have a virtue and she is your virtue, then you have her in common with nobody. Even naming one’s virtue would make her too common; if one must speak of her, it should be: This is my good; this I love; it pleases me wholly; thus alone do I will the good. I do not will it the law of a god; I do not will it as human statue and need.” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)Today the slave morality mindset is most prominent in progressive ideology. They desire to persecute and bring down anyone who rises above the mediocre mass, masking their envy with claims to “equality.” Nietzsche’s ideas about the importance of the higher man seem elitist and distasteful to most people, but they weren’t meant for the herd.
“Our highest insights must – and should – sound like follies and sometimes like crimes when they are heard without permission by those who are not predisposed and predestined for them.” (Beyond Good and Evil)He hoped the world would remain fertile for the growth of true human excellence. Nietzsche wrote for the higher man alone, urging him to rise above the temptations of comfort and herd morality and forge his own heroic life path and inspire for future generations of potential higher men. But he wasn’t optimistic that higher human beings would ever be admired. Herd morality is a powerful force and has waged “a common war on all that is rare, strange, privileged, the higher man, the higher soul, and the abundance of creative power and masterfulness.”
Nietzsche called progressives “socialist dolts and flatheads” who wish to bring about the “degeneration and diminution of man into the perfect herd animal.” Today’s social justice movements are part of a new wave of herd morality aiming to transform institutions and legislation. Is greatness possible when the slave doesn’t really want to change the world for the better? Nietzsche wrote, “when some men fail to accomplish what they desire to do they exclaim angrily, ‘May the whole world perish!’ This repulsive emotion is the pinnacle of envy, whose implication is ‘If I cannot have something, no one can have anything, no one is to be anything.”
Slave morality results in a society that refuses to see the nature of reality. They can't believe what is right in front of their eyes that some humans are naturally better than others. To a slave, the only weapon he has is chaos, because even he knows that the moment things begin to coalesce into order, he might not be at the top. But at least in a world of chaos, there is no top and the slave feels secure that if he can't be important, then no one will be important. Better a world of potential than to have that potential collapse into clear and defined identity.
The slave desires an equal world where all morality is power-games between oppressor and oppressed – not between competent and inadequate. To the slave, the fight is not between the good and evil within his own heart. Evil is outside and must be defeated. But the Revolution can never be finally over because at that moment the chaos solidifies into order and the higher will rise above the herd once again, and Revolution’s effort will be all for nought.
The Revolution must continue. New oppressors must be located. Accusatory fingers are pointed, and new crimes invented to feed the gallows. The enemy is reborn in a nauseating flat circle, without a telos until the very energy of the sun sputters and is lost to the cold, dark void. In the slave’s utopia, nothing can grow, nothing can become, because some things that grow stretch taller than their neighbours.
There is nothing in slave morality except spiralling suffering, the desired outcome, and in that final moment before raising his blade the resentful slave remains convinced the oppressor's spirit lives on in the eyes of the infant on the block before him. Only when the earth turns silent will the victory of the slaves be fully realised.
Viva la Revolution...