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Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche was an aristocrat who despised the liberalism of one of those who had influenced Thomas Jefferson: John Stuart Mill (1806-73). Nietzsche describes Mill as having a "pig philosophy." Nietzsche disliked democracy. He saw the rise of democracy as a sign of society in decay. He saw a connection between Christianity and the rising belief in democracy and socialism among his fellow Europeans.

Nietzsche believed that liberalism led to revolution, bloodletting and crime – as if the aristocrats had not been leading Europe in bloodletting. He was concerned with values, was morally earnest and had the aristocracy's crackpot disdain for the middle class (industrialists, bankers, retailers and financiers). He thought them too focused on accumulating money. Such people, he believed, had no sense of honor and lacked the style or taste that made life worth living.

Nietzsche believed that the best of men were dragged down by the weight of mass mediocrity. There was Darwinism in his thinking, but he turned Darwin upside down. Nietzsche believed that the best of the human species did not always survive and triumph as some believed happened in the evolution of species. Common opinion had been putting those holding uncommon opinions under attack for centuries, and Nietzsche saw it as the best of the strong – people who had the strength to think for themselves – as needing protection from the weak, in other words the "herd" thinkers. And the fortunate (aristocrats?) needed protection from the unfortunate (the poor?) and the healthy from the degenerate. Nietzsche believed in the dignity and worth of the individual, a value that had been on the rise among intellectuals in the West, including John Stuart Mill, but for Nietzsche it was a worth dependent on one's exceptional intellectual talents and position in society.

Today we see that the democracy that Nietzsche despised as having produced the most stable, peaceful and civilized of societies. Today we have reason for dislike for human failings but there is the respect for common people that is a part of the acceptance of democracy. From parentage that we can consider common has come exceptionally good people, better than the common aristocrat of Nietzsche's time. Experience has taught us not to wait for needed change rising from the values of any political or social elite. It was not from people in august positions in government that won for people of color what rights they have gained since the 1950s. It was instead a movement from below that included so-called common people like the economically poor cotton-picker and organizer Fannie Lou Hamer. In a democracy, opportunity is stressed rather than class boundaries. People do not give history perfect solutions to problems and evils are common, but in our democratic age barbarism is as the historian Herbert Muller pointed out "at least called by that name" and regarded deserving remedy.

Aristocrats tended to be internationalist while many of Europe's common people were nationalist in their dislike of being ruled from afar by those called emperors. Nietzsche associated nationalism with a narrow or small view. He was another of those who admired Napoleon – a figure from decades before his time – a hero to common Frenchmen who worshiped the conqueror rather than the persons who labored growing their food. Napoleon was admired by Nietzsche for having been a man of action who tried to make an empire in Europe, although Napoleon was a disaster for France and Europe and a fool on his way to Moscow because he didn't want to admit folly or show weakness. Napoleon was an example of Nietzsche's überman or superman autocrat not really worthy of adulation.

Nietzsche had a good side on the nationalism issue. He foresaw demagogues using nationalism to appeal to the mob. Long after Nietzsche died, Germany's National Socialists (Nazis) tried to add philosophical profundity to their movement by associating themselves with Nietzsche – no matter that Nietzsche had broken with the famous composer Wagner over Wagner's anti-Semitism and pan-Germanism. Nietzsche had considered himself a European more than a German. In fact, he saw himself as Polish and "without a single drop of bad blood, certainly not German blood."

Nietzsche's sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, married an anti-Semite with whom she founded a model Germanic colony in Paraguay in 1887, called Nueva Germania, calculated to show German superiority. Nietzsche responded to her plans with mocking laughter. Nietzsche didn't stoop to anti-Semitism.

Nietzsche had been a student of pre-Socratic Greece. With his predecessor Immanuel Kant he believed in empiricism balanced with reason. He was enough of an independent thinker to describe as sheep those who would follow the dictates of scholars. Academicians, he believed, were more interested in protecting themselves than in pursuing truth. While hanging on to his aristocratic identity he believed in pursuing an understanding of the world through what he thought of as an open-minded investigation of the past and present. He had a low opinion of dogma and those who did not question authority and think for themselves, a view suitable for an advocate of democracy but packed into his view of rule by exceptional autocrats.

With his dislike of dogma and conformity he was critical of established religions. The world knows Nietzsche for having said God is dead. Regarding this, here is what is written in Wikipedia:

God is dead is perhaps one of the most commonly misunderstood phrases in all of 19th century literature. The phrase should not be taken literally, as in, "God is now physically dead," or, "Jesus, both the son of God and God himself, died on the cross"; rather, it is Nietzsche's controversial way of saying that God has ceased to be a reckoning force in the people's lives, even if they don't recognize it... Thus, according to Nietzsche, it is time to transcend both the concept of God and the "good versus evil" dichotomy found within most religions.

Nietzsche turned against the Buddhist negations of life adhered to by the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer – a withdrawal from want for the sake of serenity. Nietzsche held to an embrace of life that included the bad side of good experiences. Also, he disapproved of romantic flight from reality or any other form of intoxication.

Nietzsche objected to the promises of a happy future that were floating about Europe in the late 1800s. He was right in-so-far as a common stupidity (including stupidity by aristocrats) would create two of the world's most horrific wars – made so by advances in technology.

Nietzsche In his struggle for truth managed a few good observations. One was, "If you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire." Another was, "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster."

Here on YouTube is a better description of Nietzsche

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