“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees; but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks of roses under my cypresses.”
–Thus Spoke Zarathustra
To some, he was a powerfully insightful thinker, seeing deeper and farther than any man who came before him or since. To others, he was a raving, syphilitic, madman whose thoughts provided the ideological basis for National Socialism. Love him, revile him, or ignore him though, it is hard to deny that he was one of the truly influential thinkers of our age.
This October 15th marked the 169th birthday of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. I personally feel that Nietzsche goes under-appreciated by most reactionaries. Our love affair with men like Burke, Evola, and Carlyle has left little room for this philosophical giant, yet I see plenty of room in the reactionary fold to incorporate some of the ideas of this great German philologist.
(As a quick aside: Nietzsche was perhaps my first step towards reaction, now that I think about it. One of my university courses had me read The Genealogy of Morals, my first introduction to his writings, which was a key step in my transition away from more liberal, progressive ideas and toward a more traditional, reactionary mindset)
The most obvious example I can think of is that of master morality versus slave morality. To quote Wikipedia here: “Slave morality values things like kindness, humility and sympathy, while master morality values pride, strength, and nobility.” Obviously, that misses a lot of the nuance, but the general idea is sufficient for our purposes here.
Slave morality is not about cultivating the strength within oneself to ultimately become the master, it is about subverting the master so that everyone is on the same level. To be superior is to necessarily be evil somehow, and it must have been accomplished through trickery, oppression, or some other unearned means. Anyone familiar with Anonymous Conservative should be seeing the traits of the r-types right now (and by extension, liberal-leaning folk).
To highlight a recent example, someone who tends toward master morality will prefer being fit, strong, and athletic over being fat and weak, and is likely to shame others into keeping themselves in a state that they perceive to be “better”, while someone who tends toward slave morality will seek to convince others that there is no appreciable difference between being fat and being fit and that both should be accepted and respected. Something like fat-shaming is anathema to the r-types, who react viscerally and emotionally when confronted with k-type fat-shamers.
Master morality, with its emphasis on strength and capability, is that which revels in hierarchical systems in which one can prove themselves. Master morality is that which believes only in the good and the bad, the judgement of which mostly depends on what is helpful towards one goals. Courage, truthfulness, and open-mindedness are also important facets of Master morality. It is a morality that is frequently found within (and not often found outside of) the Natural Aristocracy.
So is Master Morality necessarily an ideal to strive for? While I certainly believe it to be superior to slave morality, I don’t think that’s the correct takeaway here. Master morality can fall too easily into ruthless Machiavellianism and “anything-goes” tactics, simply by virtue of how “good” is considered to be whatever is of benefit. It’s not hard to rationalize pursuing a course of action that benefits you, no matter how destructive the consequences may be to others. The world of “Game of Thrones” is filled to the brim with Master morality, and while it is not difficult to run across individuals who would much prefer to live in that fantasy world as opposed to this one, there is not exactly an overwhelming horde of people who would consider Westeros to be the best of all possible worlds.
Additionally, in a society in which the individual is the ultimate ideal (one in which, as Nietzsche out it so well, “God is dead” and man elevates himself into the role of God), master morality can easily be sublimated into pursuing selfish ends. One who is successful in achieving material goods and pleasures of the flesh manifests Master morality, but is that really all we are meant to strive for in life? I don’t fault people who seek to achieve their own ends, but I don’t believe it is optimal to pursue nothing further than the gratification of primal urges.
I propose that an ideal society is not one in which there is an abundance of either Master or Slave morality, but on in which both types achieve some sort of optimal balance. Nowadays, we appear to have an excess of slave morality, directing resources and effort into achieving an equality of sex and race that deep down we know can never be achieved. An invigorating dose of master morality would collectively do our society some good, but too much and the medicine becomes a poison.
Perhaps this will occur naturally, however. Master morality tends to thrive in times of uncertainty, while slave morality is most comfortable in times of security and plenty (again, we see the r/K selection connection expressing itself here). Given how it seems likely that in the future, we will begin a descent into more turbulent times, we might very well see a recurrence of Master morality to deal with the societal perturbations. Perhaps the growth of the Neoreactionary community is a symptom of this paradigm shift…
So how should this resurgence of Master morality be channeled? The first step will be to form small societies and communities capable of weathering whatever lies ahead for the West. The second will be to begin patching up the damage of putting into place new societal structures and superstructures to ensure that our descendants will have a civilization of their own to eventually destroy (I jest…somewhat). Changing demographics, the inability of the US government to pay back its debts, and progressive ideologies all stand foreboding on the horizon, threatening to undermine the future of Western Civilization.
Potential hang-ups aside, we need ideologies that bow to the ideals of Master morality. We need strength, cunning, and resourcefulness if we are to ensure our survival in the coming times. When building a society, careful attention must be paid to ensuring the proper and delicate balance between the strength and nobility of Master morality and the charitability and humility of slave morality. However in times of trouble, Master morality offers a more optimal set of principles for weathering the storm of uncertainty.
Strength. Courage. Nobility. Masculinity. These traits will be sorely needed in the coming future. But how to cultivate them within oneself?
This is the question I began this blog to answer, and one that I shall begin the process of tackling within the coming months.