Nihilism Forecast: Monument Bashing and the Eternal Recurrence of the Same
“Prevalently destructive with periods of tedium”. That’s the the standard forecast of Kali Tribune’s Nihilism, Genocide and Bad Language Forecast Authority.
Yet, if we observe the mania of erasing the past by means of sledge hammer in USA and UK, that is: of erasing every possible moral wart from the face of the past, we have to speculate on possibility of radical nihilism change in future; the one nominally coming from the political right.
To this effect we employ the most radical modern idea of affirming the past to an extent that absolutely no conceivable cruelty is to be rejected but embraced as one’s own most intimate possession.
We are talking about the idea of the eternal recurrence of the same as envisioned by Friedrich Nietzsche; in some sense the polar, yet strangely congenial, opposite of the principle that’s driving the destructive movements from the radical left.
If anyone is posing a question how radical could be reaction from the Right to the amok of the Left in the USA and Western Europe, in this podcast we provide you, via Nietzsche, with an image of The Radical.
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Intriguing as always, but I must offer some words of criticism, which I hope will be taken as constructive rather than derogatory.
The notion of eternal return can not dismissed so readily as a purely literary invention. It is in fact central to the pagan worldview. Paganism at its core is essentially a poetic and symbolic expression of the inevitability of fate (karma) and the eternal periodicity of nature. A “breakout” from fate and a teleological ending to the world is only possible with the descent of the divine on earth and its union with living matter, which is a notion inseparable from Christianity. When you remove Christ from the picture, the pagan worldview is what proceeds.
I view Nietzsche as a sort of super Gorgias, who illustrated the power of persuasion over truth, and in the ultimate inability of the truth to be convincingly conveyed by reasoned logic. In the dialogue, Socrates was shown to have emerged as the winner only because it was assumed that both he and the reader had a similar conception of truth (or one at all for that matter). Modernity has flipped the switch on that and Nietzsche merely served to demonstrate that fact in a spectacular way.
Speaking of persuasion, I’m not convinced that Nietzsche’s critique of morality was at all that far from valid. It certainly wasn’t the most controversial aspect of his thinking. The problem is that by the end of the 19th century, morality came to be seen as this thing that comes about from circumstances that evoke sentiments of pity or revulsion in the social atmosphere. In other words, ethics was reduced to whatever the social consensus finds viable at the moment, and by that time the society deciding that was utterly commercial and bourgeois. Nietzsche was simply pointing out the obvious fact that such a society, such a civilization cannot in all due honesty speak about the objective validity of their ethical system, thus tearing into the utilitarian and socialist conceptions of Bentham, Stuart Mill and the like. The source of morality, ethics, are ultimately drawn from within – they are inseparable from the internal quality or constitution of the person. To a Christian, conscience is the voice of God that speaks in the soul, but we can convincingly persuade even opponents of such a view that at the very least, morality (as well as lack thereof) derives from within in a subjective fashion.
As for the current events affecting the Western hemisphere, I must remark that there is a certain inevitability to them that has no relation to the modern civilizational trend towards general nihilism. I mean this in the sense that if you truly care about the state that your society’s in, you can’t help but feel invariably pulled into this civilizational conflict. Only a total detachment from the current events and affected areas society, can absolve one from the fatal consequences of such a participation. But since this is being framed as a racial, as opposed to a purely political divide, I fear that these consequences might force themselves to your doorstep, so to speak, no matter what your own intentions may have been. Sooner or later there will be no social barrier behind which you can hide, no mask which you can wear to conceal your true face, no remote area to where you can flee, from the omnipresent totalitarian horror of the left. The realization of that simple fact, if anything, is what to do what is necessary. That is assuming there are any real Americans left.
So don’t be so quick to judge people. Consider the closeness of this conflict from the point of view of an American or a Briton, not an Eastern European. If you had a small group of traitors seize control over all media, academia and public institutions of your country, driven by an insane and ancient hatred to annihilate every vestige of European civilization, use the power of public discourse it affords them to utterly blacken the name of anyone who dared to speak out against their influence or pursue purely legal and peaceful means of resistance, the blood of a Croat in you will be calling the shots.
I have to agree with Han Fei on the point he made regarding the idea of “eternal return” having antecedents in ancient philosophy. It is present with Proclus and Porphyrios as well.
The debate between John Philoponos and Porphyrios treats precisely this question of the world’s eternity vs the world as finite interval.
However, in Nietsche, this idea is no longer grounded in any form of metaphysics, but it is a materialist rendering of it.
I did put that caveat with strong emphasis,ye of little faith.
The thing is that it was a long custom to understand N.’s idea as a metaphor indicating to ancient understanding he couldn’t put in modern terms. However it is more likely that it is unrelated to ancient pre-Socratic, Stoic and Platonist understanding and is in fact his original invention and means quite literal repetition of each individual event.
[i] I did put that caveat with strong emphasis,ye of little faith. [/i]
Yes, you did. This is what you get when commenting 3 days later after actually hearing the thing.
Though I don’t think that the core of the idea can be said to be his individual invention. More likely he was aligned with a more ancient line of thought, but standing at a much lower level.
There were a few sentences in the previous comment I regret having written and sorely wish I had the license to edit out. One of them is this notion of “real american” or real european as someone who’s willing to stand up to the establishment Order, presumably by means of some sort of political or perhaps even insurrectionist activism.
I’m not a particularly big fan of the mainstream conservative branch of the American or British public. For the most part, their viewpoints and behavior seem utterly illogical to me. They oppose every common sense reform that their society sorely needs, like for example bank regulation and health coverage. When I invariably come across these perennial internet debates between right vs left, sometimes I can’t help but wonder – what’s the point of conservatism? What has it ever managed to conserve? This has led me to adopt the rather trite logical conclusion that the only reason why conservative political parties exist is due to the narrow moneyed interests that represent them.
Of course by “left” I also don’t mean these underpaid college intern morons running around calling water racist for for its role in buoying slave ships. The left is a section of the public, a very sizeable one, who out of a subconscious desire to partake in a power structure, identify themselves with the established ruling institutions as opposed to their own ethnic culture, nation or even government. It is the portion of the public that composes and benefits from technocratic-oligarchical circles of society, specifically the corporate-academic-scientific axis. It is the shared ethic of utilitarianism, consequentialism and nominalism, products of precisely the same civilizational spirit which Nietzche tried to annihilate on an intellectual level and Hitler on a political (and in some sense, biological as well).
My point is that modern politics is essentially leftist in scope and purpose. Reality is said to have a liberal bias precisely because it is liberalism that defines what is real. The allied victory in WW2 and its associated war guilt historiography served to ensconce the total and utter dominance of this world view. Only a political radicalism of an equal scope of persuasion can knock out liberalism from its ruling pedestal. This is what I think the key point of this analysis hinges on.
Interesting interpretation of Nietzsche. What always astonished me about Nietzsche was that his moral transvaluation led him to a more austere living. In contrast, his French heirs (Bataille to Foucault) were all led down a path of extreme moral depravity. Bataille used his ideas to found a doctrine of living a life of transgression (founded a cult and wanted to be killed during a human sacrifice), similarly Foucault indulged in sexual deviancy and advocated for the abolition of the age of consent.
Adding to your point of Nietzsche’s transvaluation, his iconoclasm of the Socrates is highly relevant today. In an era of Scientism where all notions outside of Logic and Scientific method are rejected as incoherent, we can use Nietzsche to argue an existence of self-realization and aesthetic existence rather than worship Knowledge and devote ourself to the pursuit of Ideas.
I suggest you do a podcast on the advent of Logical Positivism/Scientism and work your way down to the condition of philosophy today. It’s not hard to see how these philosophers are directly responsible for the dismantling of society and the flocking of a large part of the population to pseudo-authoritarian leaders such as Trump.
Bertrand Russel and Noam Chomsky are notable figures who directly affected both the realms of philosophy and politics.
Thank you. As for Nietzsche’s denunciation of Socrates, I don’t find it relevant at all. Scientizm is one form of deviation, whereas Nietzsche’s path of palingenesis is another. I don’t think both of them touch classical thinkers like Socrates, as mediated by Plato; also, thinking outside logic indeed is incoherent – and it shouldn’t be – whereas scientific method was embraced by N. insofar as it was poised to destroy “backworlds” of Plato and Christianity. In general, the idea that you can just dive into history, scour its bottom and then find some kind of intellectual original sin there, from which everything else sprang out, is, to my mind, a barbarous reductionism.
Generally, I don’t share a belief that N. was some kind of rebel against the modernity, where he is, driven by authenticity, just denouncing the falsehoods and weaknesses of men, especially men of modernity, unearthing thereby what is genuine and true, perhaps even what is genuine in religion and metaphysics. On the contrary, his hatred for Christianity was well founded and genuine, as well as his rejection of ancient tradition of metaphysics. There’s nothing ambivalent about it. Its only that ambivalence was his forte in everything, so one can get a wrong impression.
Don’t you think the Socratic myth of Knowledge as Good is the central axiom that underlies Scientism and it’s offsprings? The belief that knowledge could solve man’s problems is, at least as I see it, Socrates legacy in the West. Moreover, the nauseating self-described “skeptics“ in the New Atheist movement are direct descendants of Socrates, wherever they get a scent of a-scientific dialogue they use rhetoric to ridicule their advisory as a charlatan.
I completely agree with you that Nietzsche wasn’t a reactionary figure, he accepted modernity and tries to describe what was to come. He believes that the Übermensch will be able to create his own values free from Socratic/Christian or Schopenhauerian/Vedic “asceticism”. But this is the most fascinating thing about him, Schopenhauer was a far more superior philosopher, and in my opinion one of, if not the best philosopher the West has ever produced (Spinoza is another one in the same vain I highly admire), but he was not able to live a life as per his philosophy. Schopenhauer was a traditional European Aristocrat, who indulged in sex, art and also loved keeping poodles as pets. While Nietzsche was able to demolish the Christian world and live outside of it what largely turns out to be an ascetic existence, although the solitude/philosophy most likely aggravated his illness and drove him mad.
The same thing is visible in Kierkagaard, his melancholic world view and “pessimistic Christianity” drove him into deep depressions.
I have a feeling you probably dislike this group of philosophers as they all embody a nihilistic and pessimistic current of thought, but I would still like to hear about your views on them as they are some of the most authentic and respectable figures of modernity that are either grossly misunderstood or just outright neglected today.
I am guessing you’re quite young, and I don’t mean it in patronizing sense, because the idea that Socratic – or rather Platonic – notion of knowledge is at the root of the views of someone like Dawkins makes no sense for someone who studied classical philosophy in the pre-internet age. I strongly suggest you read Plato’s “Apology” which is probably the best depiction of the philosophical figure of Socrates and, I would claim, the laying out of the archetype of true philosopher for generations to come.
As you put a lot of things on the table, I think it’s far better to point you to some essays and podcasts where your questions were partially addressed already, then to write a brand new essay in commentary.
For example, on Heidegger, who followed Nietzsche in his “diagnosis” although he reached further than Socrates, all the way to Parmenides:
On what knowledge in traditional Christian sense is:
Notion of knowledge and the relationship of intellect and reality in ancient Greek metaphysics that Nietzsche derided was something qualitatively completely different from what ended up being understood as such in modernity. If you would, for example, present a new atheist with the principle that effect in proper sense always remains in its cause and reverts back into it I don’t think he would appreciate it, because it implies that the more powerful the cause is, the less material it has to be. This principle, sometimes dubbed “Proclus’ rule” is the corner stone of traditional metaphysics, but hardly something remotely acceptable by modern scientism ideologue.
Consider this: Pascal said “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know”.
Not to go into fine details of context, and if we take this saying in isolation, as it is customarily taken, I think it is rather acceptable to skeptic. Now, try to imagine what is more absurd to adherent of scientism – the notion that there is some inner sense different from mind that reveals truth that mind cannot realize or that mind itself is being directed by something that is higher than-, yet congenial to it – as exemplified by “Proclus’ rule” of causality.