(This the second of two blogs; read this first. https://clarespark.com/2015/05/30/constructing-the-moderate-men-with-the-classics/.)
Nietzsche famously proclaimed that “God is dead.” Nietzsche’s fame, however, is not, nor is his professed affiliation with the Christian Middle Ages, noted in The Birth of Tragedy. We find his amorous influence in the Charles Manson cult (an emblem for the flower children of the counter-culture (?), including such immortal pop idols as the late Jim Morrison), in the hip followers of Foucault, and among postmodernists. These late 20th century (sex-obsessed) cultists were preceded by the Nietzsche followers in the earlier 20th century, George Bernard Shaw for one. Nietzsche’s Supermen were later made notorious in the Leopold and Loeb case that was dramatized in the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Rope.
I was first introduced to Nietzsche in the works translated by existentialist Walter Kaufmann, who tried to rehabilitate him from charges of proto-Nazism and antisemitism, explaining in one postwar essay that Nietzsche separated Jesus from the Jews, finding them antithetical. I find it incomprehensible how he could have failed to notice this passage from Genealogy of Morals, aphorism VII:
[Nietsche, transl. Francis Golffing:] As we all know, priests are the most evil enemies to have—why should this be so? Because they are the most impotent. It is their impotence which makes their hate so violent and sinister, so cerebral and poisonous. The greatest haters in history—but also the most intelligent haters—have been priests. Beside the brilliance of priestly vengeance all other brilliance fades. Human history would be a dull and stupid thing without the intelligence furnished by its impotents. Let us begin with the most striking example. Whatever else has been done to damage the powerful and great of this earth seems trivial compared with what the Jews have done, that priestly people who succeeded in avenging themselves on their enemies and oppressors by radically inverting all their values, that is, by an act of the most spiritual vengeance. This was a strategy entirely appropriate to a priestly people in whom vindictiveness had gone most deeply underground. It was the Jew who, with frightening consistency, dared to invert the aristocratic value equations good/noble/powerful/beautiful/happy/favored-of-the-gods and maintain, with the furious hatred of the underprivileged and impotent, that “only the poor, the powerless, are good; only the suffering, sick, and ugly, truly blessed. But you noble ones will be, to all eternity, the evil, the cruel, the avaricious, the godless, and thus the cursed and damned!”…it was the Jews who started the slave revolt in morals; a revolt with two millennia of history behind it, which we have lost sight of today simply because it is has triumphed so completely. [end, Nietzsche quote]
This was the translation ordered by professors who taught my daughter while she was in graduate school, studying with leftist superstars Samuel Weber and Jacques Derrida.
It is but a short step from Nietzsche’s verdict on “the Jews” to social democracy and the aristocratic principle that seems to reign in the elitism of (anticommunist) social democracy, in the celebrity-worship of mass culture, and in sectors of the far Right that blame “commie Jews” for all their woes. Such is the persistent influence of the Aryan Christ. Indeed, an Eric Gill sculpture of the Christ with his whip graces one of the reading rooms in the William Andrews Clark Jr. library in Los Angeles–the same library that houses a sizeable Gill collection.