Nietzsche, Christianity and Religious Tolerance

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This long, rambling post was taken from my private journal with very little editing. It’s mostly a tangent – and yet much more fun to read than an article.

What did you learn about in school today, dearest? I learned about the revolt of the slaves. I learned how the Jewish, slave mentality, unique in history as the theology of a poor and downtrodden nation, re-invented morality and inserted their perverse sickness into every aspect of contemporary culture. In Nietzsche’s time, it was a BIG deal to criticize Christianity, but he did. How have things changed? What is the critique for my own society? How are things different from Nietzsche’s time? Well, I am allowed to criticize Christianity. In theory, at least. However, those Christian ideas, of pity and self-sacrifice, had already seeped so deeply into the spiritual thought of the last 2,000 years, the cultural conscousness, that they crept outside of religion and made roots in societal consciousness itself. Certain safeguards became in place. Nietzsche is out of vogue now because of political correctness and religious tolerance. It is amazing to me that, despite Nietzsche’s brilliant, methodical, impossible to confute theory on the social evolvement of human morality, Christianity still exists! And they believe the same thing! Why is this? Well, even Nietzsche recognizes that many people are cut out to be sheep. Out of every large group of people, many will be stupid. At least half, maybe more. And so, regardless of religion, there will probably always be some pervading, superstition which, however false and vile, will be believed by all the stupid people. I suppose, to spend a lot of time yelling at stupid people, trying to convince them that what they believe is stupid, is itself very…stupid. (Blake quote) If they were not stupid they would not believe it anyway, the real trick is how to avoid making stupid people in the first place…and this may be somewhat circular, for if the religious system has, from the very beginning, put pride in blind faith and stupidity and meekness and vileness and sickness, and suffering in general, so thick a film of stupidity surrounds them that it is amazing they can function at all. So….the crime of my society, if the stupid are to be left alone, is how the stupid have woven a web of social responsibility so overwhelming that the powerful, the strong and intelligent, must abide by it.

Religious tolerance is one: it is not a Christian value, it protects all religions equally. It protects religions from each other, and it protects religions from academic criticism. What a gift for the stupid! (I need a new word for stupid, too derogatory. Deceived? Blind? Arrogant and clueless?) They can continue with their system, (which is the absolute height of intolerance!) condemn and judge those who don’t agree with them to everlasting fires of hell, without being rebuked, countered or questioned. The wise philosopher who goes to the mountain and spends his life meditating on Truth and Justice and Goodness, returns to society. When it is found out that, in his meditating, he did not encounter the name “Christ, Jesus,” he is checked off the list of eternal reward and penned in for eternal punishment. Eternal punishment! Not for any sin of character, any stain of evil, but for a name untaught! And, as the societal law of Religious Tolerance decrees, he cannot defend himself. He cannot offer counterproof or argument, he cannot engage in a logical debate to save his mortal soul from the clutches of the masses, the millions of uneducated who, for all his constant seeking, and for all their ignorance, know exactly where he will be sent when he dies. What good is this religious tolerance? And to whom? To the religious, of course. And how is religion helpful to society? One religion ties a society together, teaches it to be good, and maintains its divine superiority over other societies. In the rise of nations, then, religion has been instrumental. As have wars, violence, cultural smugness and empirilism, and slavery. Religion has allowed and excused everything necessary for the past 2,000 years of development, everything we know label an error in judgment. “yes, that was wrong, that was bad, but we see that now, and have moved on.” And yet the instrument, the vehicle, which allows us to sin gravely, but sin communally, and be excused for it, has been maintained.

Religion is necessary perhaps, and useful, perhaps. But while earlier religions were honest with man, and god, and honest with life, life, good and bad, modern religion is a revolting life. A lie to truth, at complete odds with reason, an enemy to the body, a prison cell to god.

Besides Tolerance, another evil of modern society is Political Correctness, which disables us from judging any groups (society, bound together, living in community, used to glorify itself through religion. When introduced to other societies it could not vanquish, the exhaltation of the meek. But when living together with other societies, which it was not beneficial to call evil and to fume with hatred, it was settled on tolerance. Once societies blended together, and religion was no longer an umbrella holding together the like-minded, and thus religious tolerance no longer protected from criticism, we arrived at political correctness. Political correctness means we cannot criticize or find fault with any group, for anything. Not for their religious or spiritual beliefs, not for their sexual orientation or practice, especially not for their looks or skin color. This may be a positive step, I’m not sure. However, as an enforced, externally imposed moral, I can’t see how it’s better than any other externally enforced moral. Although its reasons might be sound, and its application practical, it is not beyond the critical examination of Nietzsche’s morality; is it “Good”, good in itself? It has convinced itself that it is; when breached, you will be chastized harshly by whomsoever you have deeply and personally offended. In fact culturally, we are in such a state of hypertension that we are sensitive and easily, so easily angered.

I am not black, and I am not Buddhist. But if someone makes a cutting joke about either blacks or buddhists, I am aware that this is not only poor taste but absolutely off-limits, against the rules. I am offended, but to what end? And for whom? Who am I stepping up for, all blacks and buddhists every where? What has made it my job to defend them? It may be noble, and an advancement of human society in general that we hesitate to say bad things about any group of people, except for two things: we are not able to observe something that may be true about a race. (Nietzsche’s views on Jews: The Jewish slave mentality caused the perversion of morals. The sickly triumph of the weak, continued today in Christianity, is the Jews fault.) But oh no! We can’t blame the Jews. We can’t blame them for anything. We can’t put a critical eye on them at all. Why? Because they have suffered as no people have suffered. Worse than the millions starving in Africa, even today? Is our casual indifference any less cruel than the Nazi’s plan for Jewish extermination? And interestingly, if Political Correctness is good ‘in itself’, we don’t hesitate to speak poorly of other people. I can hate whomever I please, I can hate their actions, their manner, their background, etc, as long as I single them out for something I hate in them alone, and not something they share with a large group. Yet in this case I malign a specific person…is it less hateful than a large group with countless, faceless members?

Enough. I will go no further, for I realize heavily another part of this argument, the final part: Nietzsche, and all philosophers in fact, miss one crucial point, and this is not their fault for it lies in a misconception about the nature of philosophy. Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and consequently the pursuit of wisdom. All too often this is confused with pursuit of truth. The truth, is unfortunately, not synanamous with wisdom for many reasons. The first is that, as many philosophers have shown, Truth is either too far up there to be reached by human intellect, or it is in fact created by human intellect and changes with the tide of human progression. Further more, the Truth as philosophers see it, tends to be at diametric opposition to the contemporary truths of culture. The philosopher, as a gadfly, is the one who has dared to step outside of assumed social truths to seek the Truth, the one with the big ‘T’, up in the sky. The philosopher is the one from Plato’s cave who steps outside into the light, comes back to share the message of the Truth with the big ‘T’, and is consequently torn apart by his contemporaries….in this the philosopher separates himself, although it may be more acurate to say, the philosopher is first the one separated, from society. Looking at the lives of philosophers, they are often full of tragedy. Nietzsche himself, while terribly sick, could not get along with many people, fell viciously in love with women who would not receive him, did not have his work accepted as he had hoped, went mad and died in relative darkness. And, subsequently, while he hoped his work would overthrow social constraints, cause a revolution in religious and philosophical assumptions, in fact, it did not. Those drawn to Nietzsche today are likewise those who consider themselves outsiders, prophets, wisemen, who intelligently and honestly describe the errors of contemporary society, artists and writers, philosophers, musicians. And here’s the secret, silly and humorous: society, at large, ignores them completely. The music is enjoyed, of course, the idealogies of the masses change a bit, but society and its progression, is unaffected.

Why? For one, the heart of society is more Marxist than anyone acknowledges. Commerce and economy marches on, and humans race for the oars, for at the end of the day, we must find a place in this complex, economic organism to buy our daily bread. Even philosophers, pretending to be above such duty, cannot escape the fact. Life needs fuel, and we have lost our taste for nuts and berries, and lost our skill at hunting, skinning and flesh; and were we to regain it, we would have no time for such pursuits as philosophy. But I digress. Society continues. I may be Christian one day, Marxist, the Nietzschean, and final some conglomerate of New Age idealisms, but every day, I put on my tie and go to work. Idealogy has no effect on commerce and economy. My point? Nietzsche and philosophers, while fascinating, can be easily discarded as malcontents, criticizing only what they once desired but failed to attain. What if the first girl Nietzsche had proposed to had accepted? Most likely he would never have written another book. He may have had the same ideas, possibly, but might have been convinced by his better half not to stir the waters or offend the in-laws. Nietzsche’s writings were his own form of hatred and revenge; revenge on a society who ignored him and didn’t hold him in the esteem he held for himself. His Zarathustra was his own personal warrior, sent in to defeat his enemies: although he had no trouble naming and defiling his enemies (which were also once his best friends) on paper. And now? Today we have bred a society of philosophers. With the insurgence of new and contradictory ideals, the post-modern breakup of community and group, as well as any hope for meaning and truth (despite blind acceptance of some religion, which should have, on its on merits, died out in the face of rational criticism). We have a whole lot of malcontents, struggling to find a place in society, struggling to be counted, to be loved, eager to offer their criticisms on society or anything else they can think of; and yet, we also, as in any age, have everyone else, the masses, the sheep, who try to carve their name into the side of the wall nearest them and hope someone reads it. With the ease of being suddenly rich and famous, based on skill only, everybody wants to be rich and famous, and so we covet grandness, while sipping our coffee and enjoying every day as much as we can. My point: I’m trying to get something out of myself which is stubbornly staying inside, somewhere where I cannot coax it out, but will have to consciously force it out and commit it to paper; in the ensuing battle parts may be damaged or violated but here goes nothing: Maybe philosophers are not necessary anymore. Maybe they have never been necessary. Perhaps like all artists, entertainers, they offer a brief destraction, some great ideas, hell they may even describe life exactly as it is, perfectly, and have come to know the True nature of all things. So f*ing what? Tomorrow we will still need to work. We will still need to eat. We will still have the same animal instincts towards the opposite sex, towards fear and danger, we will still have jealousy and pride, we will still have to get along with and co-exist with people we may very well like to strangle. What good is Truth?! We cannot escape the symptoms of our existence, the state of our earthly mission. And so, rather than prophets of eternal reality, philosophers are really the people sitting on their ass, looking at the clouds go by, refusing to participate for fear of giving their efforts to a point they can’t conceptualize intelligently, while the rest of us are trying to make do. At least, that has been the philosopher of the last 2000 years. Much more useful, perhaps, no – definitely, are those persons who can acutely understand our actual existence, on its own terms, without criticizing its obvious pointlessness, and offer concrete ways to improve it! What does it matter WHY we are here. We ARE here. What does it matter, if what we see is ‘real’, if our actions are ‘good’ or ‘evil’ and if these terms hold eternal value or are social constructs. All of philosophy is immediately dismissed. All that matters. ALL that we can ever know for sure and nothing else, is this, one moment we find ourselves in, and every previous, and every subsequent, until death. And so, what I find of immense value, is anyone who knows how to increase the worth of this one moment.

How worth? I would like to propose the term “enjoyment” although many may disagree. If you prefer sorrow, suffering, meekness, then go martyr yourself and be done with you: you will still have chosen what you find preferable and it wouldn’t be hard to prove what you prefer, what you choose, is what you enjoy. Hence, enjoyment. How do we make THIS moment more enjoyable? How do we make every moment, as best as we are able, keeping in mind that we have real lives which we are always immersed in, and cannot, as Nietzsche says, simple get out of the current and stand on the shore and watch (It is all a current, even the shore, there is no escape from the river of life, short of death). We have returned, finally, to one of the original, and I argue, the only valuable aim of philosophy: the pursuit of happiness. Happiness~! Joy! Have you not noticed that it is from this emotion that Love flows effortlessly, Generosity too and self-lessness is second nature to Happiness. We WANT to help others. To be Happy, truly happy, makes morality trivial, inconsequential. You do not need to force someone to be good when they are happy (Yes, I realize I am probably wrong on this, but this is not the place to examine myself more closely) My point only is that Nietzsche, while giving us lots and lots of truth, could  not find for himself any happiness, and thus, has not really given any else happiness. Or was that my point? I seem to recall my point being that there is no point to criticize the herd, for they will never change, and that learning to live with them was more advantageous, at least for the individual soul. Man is, after all, a social creature.