On prescriptive ontologies – Part Two, Homo heroicas
I do not know the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche well, and have not read a single one of his published works from cover to cover for the best part of forty years. I do know there is a grand vision of human meaning and a narrow one of human freedom, and there is rampant purposivity as well as progressivism, and naturalism but also anti-Darwinism. There is anti-socialism, anti-militarism, anti-democratism, anti-statism in parts. There is much more than the vulgar moral framework of “god-killing” and “aristocratic radicalism”. For example, there is life affirmation. If someone asked me for an interpretation of the above quote, without telling me that it is from The Will to Power, I would say that it is about emotion in human presence and its positive perspective on the lost life that went before. Read in that way, the first and last thoughts, especially, are possessed of the same sublimity and make the same tangential approach to Truth as any metaphysical fragment in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. It is hard to believe that someone could write in that way without knowing everything. And yet, for most thinking nationalists he might as well have never conceived of more than the “higher man” and the teleology of greatness, the life lived for glory, the life of Homo heroicas.
Here, for example, is Jonathan Bowden enunciating what amounts to the default or, a least, dominant nationalist credo:
Nietzsche himself called nationalism “small politics”. He had no use for the mass of ordinary people. He saw them not as a positive cause in themselves but as weak, resentful and reactive half-men upon whose being events and ideas and the will of others work out their destiny. Their slavishness began in their own submissive morality which made them incapable of action and creation … and of oppressing others. For Nietzsche, human worth is vested solely in a cultural and spiritual elite licensed by their self-authored moral code to behave as they will (which behaviour is necessarily “noble”, apparently). This elitism cleaves totally from Plato’s in that this class of higher men owe nothing to the mass of people – not example, not wise government in their name, not material progress, not liberation, not education and enlightenment, nothing. Any benefits which accrue for the masses out of actions of the higher men are incidental. Actively seeking to do good for the masses means accepting their resentments and moral judgements, and becoming like them.
Nietzsche was no more interested in Europe’s nations than he was in their peoples. He was a pan-European idealist. There is no reason to suppose that he would have found a globalist expansion problematic in principle. Of course, he never envisaged a world in which the living spaces of (non-Jewish) white peoples and only (non-Jewish) white peoples are being given over to racial and ethnic aliens. But his natural sympathy would likely have lain with the class of British-American and Zionist political, financial, and corporate elites whose creative act it is. For him, the radically free aristocrat is so invested with philosophical virtue, there is nothing left for kinship, common interest, love, belonging, and the people’s survival itself.
20th Century nationalism in the form of the fascisms endeavoured to resolve this dichotomy just enough to make it serviceable without extinguishing its philosophical fire. National Socialism, for example, adopted the Judaic model, shifting the definition of the master to the Herrenrasse, and the slave to the racial and sub-racial out-group. Thus defined and suitably equipped with police powers, tanks, guns, and labour camps, the heroes of the Schutzstaffel could model the radically free aristocrat all over occupied Europe and in the east.
In fairness, any strict expression of the Nietzschean ideal must channel a violent energy because, in Nietzsche, human relations are just too antagonised, the ordinary man too traduced. This state of affairs flows directly from the very foundation of Nietzsche’s thought, whereby he invests Nature with the agency excised from the corpse of the once omnipotent deity, and re-presents it as a life-force driving growth and expression of all kinds, and coursing through the instincts of Man. Further, all living organisms are not merely electrified with and brought into being by it. Existence is not enough for Nietzsche. Its essential interest, its destiny, is dominion. It is, therefore, a will to such, and the cause of all Man’s restless and conflicted dreams and struggle.
This is not Nature’s truth, of course. Nietzsche seems never to have read Darwin at source. He certainly did not apply evolutionary theory to his own thinking, or his entire thesis would have had to be extrapolated from resource competition and mate competition. The fundamental element would have been lost to survival and the transmission of traits for fitness. Propositionally, the will to power would have been subservient to the inherent interests of life and continuity, and the truth of human presence.
In the latter regard, there is an intriguing interpretation of what Nietzsche has done in his eagerness to declare the death of God and liberation from His moral commands. With uncanny precision, he has imitated the things of the ontological transit and extemporised them in his moral drama. Nietzschean morality operates as a proxy for consciousness. The master and the slave are somewhat florid proxies for human presence and absence. The moral decision (sometimes called reason) which characterises the master is a proxy for the agency which characterises presence. The moral determinism which explains slavery is a proxy for the mechanicity which operates in the condition of absence (or ordinary waking consciousness). Likewise, the master’s moral disdain for the slave is a proxy for the present man’s emergence from the dulling immersion and fracture of the other life. Nietzsche’s warning that the master who internalises slave morality through concern for the slave’s condition is a proxy for the inevitable return to that life - a return which commences precisely with re-immersion in the objects of its attention.
By this schematic shift Nietzsche effectively makes the ordinary man responsible for the nature and quality of consciousness when, in fact, the nature and quality of ordinary waking consciousness is responsible for the lived life of men – all of them, aristocrats and commoners alike. One is bound to ask, therefore, what human value uncaring elitism and assumed nobility actually serves, even for the elites. In The Will to Power Nietzsche provides an objective answer:
A group laying claim to be “the highest type” arises in every society. In tribal societies and in traditional rural communities the elites arise simply and naturally, and with general consent, as the village elders. But in societies organised around some confected principle – democracy or honour, say - this simplicity falls away, and elements of cronyism, corruption, and parasitism set in. So in monarchical societies we find that the elites are the barony. In religious societies the elites are the priesthood. In militaristic societies the elites are the officer corps. In police states the elites are the secret police. In capitalist societies the elites are the bankers. In Nietzschean-inspired nationalism the elites are the Schutzstaffel. In a future Noahide world the elites are the Jews.
Village elders excepted, the reality of elitism is invariably one of the “denial of life” and “disintegration and decay” - nihilism really - which Nietzsche seeks to remedy. I return to that opening quote; ‘If we affirm one moment, we thus affirm not only ourselves but all existence. For nothing is self-sufficient …’ If you took Homo heroicas and multiplied his heroism, his glorious culture and spirituality, and the degree of his noble superiority over the lumpen proles a thousand-fold, yet you would not have a tenth of one inch advance in the genetic interests of the people. Inequality is not what “right-wing” ideas are about. The affirmations of consciousness are what right-wing ideas are truly about. Had that been understood in the nationalist past, the Schutzstaffel would have been teachers, not soldiers. Were it understood today, thinking nationalists would know that heroism cannot be prescribed, but lies in the people like water in the rocks, just like intelligence and ethnocentrism. And they would know too that not “the destiny of humanity” but the freedom to be and the freedom in being are what truly gild the lived life and lead men to self-knowledge, good instincts, good choices, and to destin ineluctably for their people, each and every one of them.
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