Nietzsche and our moronic world
Once you've explored what the modern society has to offer, you'll quickly come to realize how most people take no notice of the current problems we as humans face today. While any sensible person believes that something is wrong, they often don't know what that something is, or how we're supposed to solve it. Those who have realized this dilemma will quickly make use of the situation and announce themselves as "political activists". What this can mean in reality is something I'm about to tell you.
Some time ago I wandered around in one of those long halls that have come to define the lives of University students. It's like walking towards the end of a tunnel, but instead of finding the source of light, you stumble upon books, coffee mugs and half-finished papers. As I was walking through this hall, my eyes suddenly stopped at the notice board on the wall next to me: ' "Democracy is the tyranny of the evil men" - Friedrich Nietzsche - A lecture on the problems with democracy'. I immediately took note of the date and place thinking this was a perfect way to make contact with like-minded people.
Later that week I took the train to the city, fairly interested in what this evening would have to offer. "There's a good chance I might find some truly dissident individuals" I reasoned, walking past people with a dead look in their eyes. Most modern individuals have this dead and weak look, where they'll face the ground and slowly become aware of the inherent emptiness of their lives. No one wants to talk about it, of course, as it would mean that we'd have to re-valuate our lifestyles and ideals. Instead, it's much easier to put on the music player, start fiddling with the cell phone or simply engage in any form of socialization, where your main role is to act as passive listener, careful not to say anything offensive to anyone. These were the thoughts wandering through my mind before I stopped by something that looked like a regular residence for students.
I opened the door and went down a couple of stairs before I reached a heavy door - the kind of thing you'd expect war safety rooms to have. While in, I was met with an interesting sight: a fairly small room with a bar, chairs placed randomly on the floor, as well as some tables and other furniture. The place seemed well fit as a place for students to hang out and perhaps have some beers. I had expected a large lecture hall, so this was an odd surprise. The wait was not very long and slowly more people began to fill the room. It was obvious that most people knew each other, and while I was new to this, it felt somehow more exciting, as I'd be able to provoke listeners without having to worry about personal relations, which often make us go blind and relapse into the kind of pacifists that agree with anything that does not offend or discriminate anyone.
The professor holding the lecture was in the middle ages, had some degree in state science, and held a very formal introduction. He presented three main problems that modern democracy, as he saw it, had to face:
a) The current form of democracy was dependant on people working in the social/political sphere, whose goals would be to change and alter our society, while the majority of people stayed at home, not being an influence in politics other than through voting. This, according to the professor, led to a form of elitist rule, where the majority of people were left out.
b) How do we maintain freedom when anti-democratic groups use that democratic freedom to ultimately replace democracy with something else? Lately, as multicultural societies have started to become overwhelmed with problems, people are beginning to look for alternative answers: answers within nationalist organizations. Some of these are far from what we today would call democratic.
c) How will we be able to help and serve freedom to minority groups when the masses decide our goals and political changes?
While finding these "problems" far from new, I began to realize that I had ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It became clear that the majority of people sitting around me were either liberals or outright left-wing extremists. It was surely not a good position, and I had to think about the long way home, so I decided to keep my profile somewhat low and objective. Immediately a lot of common dilemmas were raised: "How can the USA attack Iraq under the banner of freedom, while forcing the native people to live by US-standards? Is it morally acceptable for democracies to enforce the same political systems in other nations?" Other questions revolved around the concept of freedom: "How is it that the democratic state has to decide the freedom? Why can't the people do what they want?"
My task as a nihilist is to always provide a clear and sharp picture of how reality functions and works. I remove all unnecessary illusions created by the fear of uncomfortable conflict with our natural world and try to gain confidence in people by simply telling the truth closest to reality. I explained in short terms how the concept of freedom was a moral absolute, and that no political regime would allow us to do what we want. Instead, the state would always have to restrict our personal freedom, despite our claim to possess "total individual freedom" within our democratic nations. I decided to continue on the same track as it allowed me to criticize the faults of democracy while remaining unbiased regarding whether or not democracy itself actually is positive.
The further we carried into the debate, the more I began to realize that the whole discussion would end up nowhere. Most people who had come to this meeting were fairly intelligent, but as they were indoctrinated by liberal ideas they could not look beyond the picture provided by the current society and its mass media. Many of them, including liberals, agreed that democracy perhaps wasn't the best solution and that it could not deal with some problems - overpopulation for example. At the same time, no one was willing to look beyond democracy itself and perhaps find an alternative solution. "Yes, it's clear that democracy is paradoxal. So how can we improve it?"
This idea that something inherently faulty somehow, perhaps through sheer magic, could be "improved", made the whole debate almost ironic. What was there to improve? I didn't have to point out the errors of democracy, as most students seemed to have a good grasp on these themselves. One of the most interesting criticisms was the question of a hidden power was ruling democracy from within. If this was the case, why not switch to fascism, as an elite was ruling us anyhow? It'd be too easy to simply hint on business and power play, but the truth was that they simply did not attend to actually find a solution, but to hear themselves talk.
While it will come off as no surprise to some, it's worth repeating the truth of today: most people who discuss politics do so to appear important. They're not interested in the actual problems, but they follow the news on the TV, capture some of the arguments in inoffensive debates, and then proceed to launch their well-executed reasoning. While attending lectures and engaging in debates is highly recommended, especially to improve your skills in argumentation and social techniques, you may find yourself disappointed, like me, and eventually leave the place without any new allies.
I felt cheated by the note that included Nietzsche, which somehow seemed to suggest that there'd be a discussion regarding the problems with democracy itself. As it turned out, this was a cheap way to gain attention and stir up some debate. The professor himself didn't even understand the quote and he surely didn't agree with Nietzsche. He appeared to be like most academics: sharp in tongue but vague in content. He could argue like a soldier in battle, but what he actually was trying to say was nothing more than: "I've found some problems with democracy, so how do we repair them with two hands?"
Before I left, I shook hands with the professor and thanked the host for being able to take part in the debate. For, although I left with no new knowledge, other than the fact that most people should keep themselves far away from everything concerning politics or important decisions, I had still found the experience as a whole rewarding. What Nietzsche often tried to convey in his works, was a sense of post-modernistic critique against the false materialism that today is a natural part of any modern man's lifestyle. He realized that our ideals and our spirit had faded into the inevitable emptiness of nihilism, the kind of nihilism seen as its own end point (fatalism).
Those who talk just to hear themselves being in the centre of a discussion are truly empty inside, without an actual goal or ideal behind their actions, other than to achieve a sense of self-importance. It's easy to ward off democracy as evil, but the truth within Nietzsche's words lie much deeper, deeper than we perhaps may think. I experienced the whole thing as overtly pleasing, especially regarding the fact that the whole debate simply proved what dissident philosophers like Nietzsche had understood long before our time: as soon as we exchange ourselves with that we wish to achieve, there will in the end be nothing left, but the dust of our bodies and the emptiness after our lives. If we ever wish to escape the things that plague our modern existence, we must free ourselves from the shackles we've forced upon ourselves.
On my way home, I looked up towards the night sky and wondered about tomorrow. Not in the sense of "what I'll do", but "what will happen" and "what will become of us?" Every time we stop and contemplate over our actions, we find a questionable destiny lying ahead of us, whether we wish to ignore it for the time being or not. Some try to hide it behind clothes, cars, morals or politics, but in the end we face the same unavoidable friend, whose soul is as black as the night. He screams of emptiness and that is why we will always repent and fight back, even if it means attending worthless lectures, writing articles or picking up garbage after your neighbour. It's the realization that life is what we make out of it, and even if it sometimes goes wrong, we've ultimately never failed, as our drive to fill the black hole with meaning never ends. It's life, it's death, but most importantly, it's the uncertain feeling that something lies beyond our immediate reach, and those who stretch to look for it will always find something new on the other side.
September 23, 2006
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