NIETZSCHE AND THE THIRST FOR UNITY

By Yuri Kuchinsky

     In a Disenchanted Universe, the modern Dystopia, where a
multitude of causes and "little truths" compete for recognition,
Nietzsche remains a towering presence.
     This is the time when Marx is being hurriedly dragged down
from the high pedestal he occupied in the shady groves of Academe.
The infatuations of old don't look quite the same with all the
changes in global political landscape. Neither the Church nor the
State are held in high esteem and many grizzled veterans of
ideological wars hope no one is looking while they remove the
somewhat embarrassing insignia from their dusty tunics.
     Why is Nietzsche attractive to so many readers nowadays? The
voice of Nietzsche is clear and strong, it is full of animal
vigour, for him doubt and vacillation don't exist. And he speaks
for the complete Being: both the intellectual and the sensual parts
of our personality. There is an aesthetic and psychological
orientation in Nietzsche that foreshadowed both Freud and Jung, the
fathers of the modern psychology. Some have also seen Nietzsche,
along with Kierkegaard and Dostoyevsky, as the founders of
Existentialism.


APOLLO AND DIONYSUS

     Nietzsche defined a certain aesthetic and world-transforming
duality that proved to be very influential in the history of ideas.
He saw the world as a battle-ground where two fundamental forces of
Nature struggle for supremacy: the Apollonian and the Dionysian.
     Apollo  -  the placid god of tranquillity and unity is the
eternal opponent of Dionysus, the riotous, orgiastic, at once a
creative and a destructive god, somewhat akin to Shiva of India.
     Although from the standpoint of modern anthropology this
mythic metaphor may seem somewhat problematic, nevertheless, there
is something  very enchanting and appealing about it that helps us
gain some insight into our world of rapid social change, confusion
and uncertainty.


THE SUPERMAN

      Nietzsche's theory of the Superman indicates that Nietzsche
espoused a hierarchical view of social organisation. Of course, in
the present age of Political Correctness, hierarchy is next only to
the Devil in popularity. Yet hierarchies are inherent in Nature  - 
that much is obvious to any biologist or ecologist. Every animal
society on this planet is hierarchical in some measure (a subject
studied by Sociobiology, a much misunderstood and maligned
science).
     Multitudes of examples may be cited. Among mammals, who are
almost all extremely social animals, rigid hierarchies determine
most feeding and sexual behaviour. Birds have their "pecking
order". "Slavery" has been described as practised by a number of
ant species (Slave Raider ants capture members of another specie of
ants to serve them as workers). There seems to be something
inherently Utopian and irrational in the modern Left-wing-Anarchist
tendency to dismiss hierarchy out of hand: to demonise it.
     Nietzsche was fascinated by strong leaders of history. He
believed that the strong had an intrinsic right to dominate the
rest of the population. Therefore, in some sense, he can be seen as
a Social Darwinist, a sort of an ideological forefather of Margaret
Thatcher. Yet recognising that human societies are hierarchical and
competitive by nature, that human nature is competitive, doesn't
yet imply that we should all rush headlong into competition. To the
contrary, if we recognise the truth about our own nature, this may
allow us to understand ourselves better and to control our natural
competitiveness through the intervention of reason.
     Debate still rages how much Nietzsche's theories affected the
course of the XX century. Is Nietzsche to be blamed for the rise of
XX century dictators? Who can tell? But could his guilt be any
greater than that of Marx? Let us keep in mind that Stalin never
read any Nietzsche.


THE RELIGION OF THE VICTIM

     The main criticism of Christianity offered by Nietzsche was
that it is a religion of the weak and the wretched  -  of the lowly
mob. According to him, a strong spirit can only suffocate in the
Christian atmosphere of sin and guilt. He had trouble swallowing
the biblical doctrine of the Original Sin, a doctrine that is,
admittedly, very difficult to reconcile with the evolutionary view
of the Universe.
     According to Nietzsche, Christianity is the religion of the
slave, of the pathetic and the deformed  -  religion worshipping
powerlessness, pain and suffering.
     There's a certain irony and contradiction in Nietzsche. Why,
if Christianity is the religion of the weak, did it conquer the
mighty Roman Empire, and then the world? Why are the
Judeo-Christian religions (including Islam) the ruling religious
doctrines of the world? If Christianity truly is the religion of
the weak  -  why, it should have stayed, 2000 years ago, a tiny
sect of disaffected Jews, and should have withered long ago!
     Obviously, within the complex and, in the main,
self-contradictory body of Christian doctrine there were other
elements than just wallowing in self-pity. The rigid hierarchy of
the Roman Catholic Church may indeed have nothing to do with the
teachings of Jesus, the man, yet as most people know, you can base
just about anything on the Bible.


HIERARCHIES

     Nietzsche's views on hierarchy may encourage us to take an
inquiring look at this important issue. One of the lessons of
history is that an all-too-violent and over-eager rejection of the
hierarchical world order may be an attempt  -  both self-deceiving
and counterproductive  -  to reject reality. The best example of
what happens when hierarchy is rejected too vehemently is the
history of Marxist doctrine. Marx, as most people know, was
strongly anti-hierarchical and anti-State. His famous prediction
was that under Marxist rule the State will "wither away".
     It would be funny (if it wasn't so sad) to observe what
happened to the State after Marxists seized power in Russia. The
State became the Monster. (To that school of thought among today's
Marxists who claim that Marxism was perverted by the Russians  - 
we can only observe that there must be something drastically wrong
with a doctrine that is so amazingly easy to pervert and to turn
into its exact opposite.)
     Hierarchy was intrinsic in human social organisation for at
least 5000 years, ever since the rise of great ancient empires in
the Fertile Crescent of Eastern Mediterranean. To pretend that
hierarchy would disappear in the near future, in the coming world
of poverty, violence and overpopulation, when most of humanity will
be living in monstrous 30-million plus urban slums is delusionary,
to say the least.


THE UNIFIER

     Joseph Campbell, in his awesome tome, CREATIVE MYTHOLOGY, sees
Nietzsche as a powerful exponent of the Unity of Being  -  the
Unity of all living things. Campbell traces a long and complicated
evolution of this concept of the World as One. This trajectory
moves through mystical illuminations of the Shaman's Dream Flight,
the matriarchal Nature cults of ancient Europe, on to the Indian
Vedas, the ancient Gnostics, the Cabbalists, mediaeval alchemists,
Spinoza, and on towards such latter-day Gnostics as William Blake,
Goethe and Karl Jung.
     Campbell decries the hopelessly split and dualistic world of
mainstream Western culture, based on the Bible, that sees Creation
as fragmented and divided. He sees the official Christianity as
hopelessly dualistic: Christian dualism is the body-soul dualism.
The body, according to this view, is inherently evil  -  the soul
can only be free and happy after death.
     Yet, as Campbell sees it, the philosophic views of Descartes,
the founding spirit of the Scientific Enlightenment, are also
hopelessly dualistic. Cartesian dualism is the mind-body dualism.
     As opposed to both of these dualisms, Nietzsche celebrated the
healthy sensuality of the corporal  -  the purity and joy of
deep-reaching Dionysian creative spirit  - the Life Force of the
Universe as Will-To-Power.
     Nietzsche chose Zarathustra as his narrator primarily because
he saw in Zarathustra, a sage who was pre-Biblical, the voice for
the Unity of Being. Nietzsche's Zarathustra is the poet-sage who
combines both logical and the sensual. Thus Zarathustra could
express the Reality the way it was before it was "corrupted" by
biblical morality: the reality beyond Good and Evil.


A CRYPTO-CHRISTIAN?

     Obviously, Nietzsche's ideas cannot be accepted uncritically
in our day and age. There are a number of clear contradictions in
his work that we should be cautious about. For Nietzsche, while
quite prepared to celebrate strength, sensuality, and the body, was
very ambiguous about the role of suffering in human life. While he
condemned Christianity as morbid and suffering-obsessed  - 
curiously, he saw the destiny of the Super-Man as... suffering.
Thus, Nietzsche continued to see suffering as something quite
noble, and, therefore, he was accused by some of being a
crypto-Christian. His own life-story probably affected his
philosophy in this respect. For Nietzsche was an invalid, a
sufferer from a deadly disease: syphilis.
     A troubling point is Nietzsche's attitude towards women. His
misogyny is never far from the surface and this misogyny obviously
came into conflict with his inclusionary instinct as a Unifier of
the fragmented Being. How, indeed, could he formulate the
philosophy of Unity while excluding half of humanity? But,
obviously, he was not the only one suffering from the delusions of
patriarchy in the XIX century. The voices of women provide a
crucial perspective to our redefining of the existing moral order
as we enter the new millennium.
     When, in a typical Nietzscheanism, he said that the
philosophical Truth is just like a woman (in the sense that she is
so difficult for philosophers to please), he probably didn't imply
by this either his approval of women, or his acceptance of the view
that the Truth exists.


BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL

     As we stare into the Future where dark clouds drift abundantly
on the horizon, what can we make of Nietzsche's injunction to go
beyond Good and Evil?
     To me, Nietzsche's phrase means very clearly that we should
escape from the oppressive moral dualism of the patriarchal,
nature-hating Judeo-Christian ethical code. The Evil, as is defined
by our existing moral authority, is a myth. It is bound too closely
with such other myths as the Apocalypse, the Last Judgement, the
Original Sin, and the Devil. The Evil must be demythologised and
redefined.
      That the Apocalypse is coming there's little doubt, and yet
it is not the God but the Christians who are bringing it about.
     I would suggest that the moral code of the future would define
Evil as any attitude that is destructive of Nature and
sustainability.
      The Christian Apocalypse still colours our perception far too
powerfully. The End-is-nigh philosophy, so beloved of St. Paul,
still makes most members of our society assume that we shouldn't
worry too much about the benefit of the future generations who will
live on this planet, and about what kind of a planet they will
inherit: the legacy of polluted and destroyed eco-systems. The
Judeo-Christian God  -  most certainly a false God, rooted far too
powerfully in the past  -  may have become the biggest obstacle to
environmental awareness and action in our time. The negative
attitude of the Church and the Mosque to contraception and abortion
is only one proof of that.
     We may rejoice with Nietzsche that "the God (the patriarchal,
intolerant god) is dead". Yet we may be sad it is not yet buried.
     To move "beyond Good and Evil" may be simply to try to see the
Good and Bad, and to act on this understanding.