I’m going to be pretty busy for the next couple of days so content here will probably be a bit light. However, I will still find time to point out how fucking stupid national socialists and their international brethren are.
Today’s post deals with reading comprehension. The Nazis periodically cited the works of Nietzsche when arguing their philosophy. Their offspring; neo-Nazis, the alt-right, and other flavors of national socialists; have followed in their footsteps. However, unless you read Nietzsche particularly badly and are entirely ignorant of the personal views he expressed throughout his lifetime, there are no grounds on which to cite Nietzsche when making an argument in favor of nationalism:
But if you read Nietzsche like a college freshman cramming for a midterm, you’re bound to misinterpret him — or at least to project your own prejudices into his work. When that happens, we get “bad Nietzsche,” as the Week’s Scott Galupo recently put it.
And it would appear that “bad Nietzsche” is back, and he looks a lot like he did in the early 20th century when his ideas were unjustly appropriated by the (original) Nazis. So now’s a good time to reengage with Nietzsche’s ideas and explain what the alt-right gets right and wrong about their favorite philosopher.
“Nietzsche’s argument was that you had to move forward, not fall back onto ethnocentrism,” Hugo Drochon, author of Nietzsche’s Great Politics, told me. “So in many ways Spencer is stuck in the ‘Shadows of God’ — claiming Christianity is over but trying to find something that will replace it so that we can go on living as if it still existed, rather than trying something new.”
Nietzsche was interested in ideas, in freedom of thought. To the extent that he knocked down the taboos of his day, it was to free up the creative powers of the individual. He feared the death of God would result in an era of mass politics in which people sought new “isms” that would give them a group identity.
“The time is coming when the struggle for dominion over the earth will be carried on in the name of fundamental philosophical doctrines,” he wrote. By doctrines, he meant political ideologies like communism or socialism. But he was equally contemptuous of nationalism, which he considered petty and provincial.
Only a lack of reading comprehension could lead somebody to believe that Nietzsche supported the idea of national socialism. Come to think of it, only a lack of reading comprehension could lead somebody to believe that national socialism is a good idea so I think I’ve found a significant underlying problem.
If the leaders of the new national socialist movement can’t read a handful of books and actually comprehend what they say, why should anybody think that the ideas they espouse are any less stupid than they are?