Nietzsche Contra Wilders.

[size=95]“Whispered to the conservatives.—What was not known formerly, what is known, or might be known, today—, a reversion [Rückbildung], a return in any sense or degree is simply not possible. […] Nothing avails: one must go forward, that is to say step by step further into décadence (this is my definition of modern ‘progress’…).” (Source: Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, “Forays of an Untimely Man”, section 43.)[/size]

The Western liberalisation

The history of the modern West is essentially one long liberalisation process. The term “liberalisation” refers to liberalism. Liberalism is essentially the notion that the individual has priority over society.

I distinguish four main liberalisations. The first and most important was the individual’s emancipation from the requirement of belonging to a particular ethnic group in order to attain the Good. The best and most relevant example of this is the difference between Judaism and Christianity. In order to be a “Judaist”, one must be ethnically Jewish. In Christianity, on the other hand, ethnicity does in principle not matter at all.

The second main liberalisation in the history of the modern West was the individual’s emancipation from the requirement of having an intermediary in order to attain the Good. This intermediary was the priest. In Protestantism, every Christian is basically his own priest.

The third liberalisation was the individual’s emancipation from the requirement of having a god in order to attain the Good. In Humanism, one does not need to believe in a god in order to be able to attain the Good. Every man has, like the Christian God, knowledge of good and evil. He can distinguish between the two by virtue of his reason. Humanism is essentially the notion that what Plato called “the Idea of the Good” can be discerned in (human) nature and (world) history, by virtue of (human) reason.

The fourth and last liberalisation was the individual’s emancipation from the single Idea of the Good. The individual can now choose from an endless amount of ideas of what is good. With this we arrive at cultural relativism, as all ideas of what is good are now held to be equally true or untrue. This is basically nihilistic, as no way of life can be held superior to another anymore.

Thus far the modern Western liberalisation process in broad lines. I will now treat of the said four steps in a little more detail, in reverse chronological order, so as to eventually arrive at the decisive step, step zero.—

Step four

The fourth and last liberalisation is the one Geert Wilders combats. He calls it the “multikul”—literally “multi-nonsense”. Many people who regard themselves as multiculturalists, however, dispute that multiculturalism is culturally relativistic. In this they are mistaken.

A typical example of such a so-called “multiculturalist” is Dr. Evelien van Asperen. In her paper “The Intercultural Paradox”, she employs as an antonym of “cultural relativism” the term “cultural monism”. She believes that besides these two alternatives there is a third. She speaks of “super-cultural values”, values that are more fundamental than any cultural values. With regard to these values, however,—basically the so-called “universal rights of man”—I see two possibilities:

  1. They themselves have their roots in one very specific cultural climate: the Western. Then the so-called “super-cultural” alternative is no alternative, but simply a blind if not dishonest form of cultural monism.

  2. They are values that are instinctively shared by all healthy human beings. There must then, however, still be a culture that decides that such instinctively shared values are the highest values. We can imagine the following dialogue:

[size=95]A: “Why should we value X and Y the most highly?”
B: “Because all healthy human beings instinctively value them.”
A: “But why should we value this fact so much?”[/size]
Methinks B at this point has only two options:

[size=95]1) B: “Because all healthy human beings instinctively value it.”[/size]
With this we arrive at an infinite regress.

[size=95]2) B: “Because we have good reasons for doing so, to wit […]”[/size]
Instinct is irrational. We can therefore also have good reasons for acting against our instincts. This undermines B’s first answer, “Because all healthy human beings instinctively value them.”

So a “multiculturalism” that appeals to super-cultural values is in reality no multiculturalism at all, but a blind if not dishonest form of uniculturalism. A multiculturalism on the other hand that does not appeal to such values is essentially culturally relativistic. Genuine multiculturalism, therefore, is essentially culturally relativistic.

Now Wilders is a uniculturalist or, in other words, a cultural monist. He makes perfectly clear which culture he champions. Thus in his paper “Clear Wine” he says the following.

[size=95]“[The] democratic Rechtsstaat arose from a centuries-old discussion between the two traditions that have created our culture: the Judeo-Christian and the Humanistic. The standards and values that have been brought forth in the field of tension between these two traditions, form our dominant culture[.]”[/size]
We can render the discussion between the said traditions as follows:

[size=95]Judeo-Christianity Vs. Humanism[/size]
This is a highly simplified rendition, however. The next is more accurate:

[size=95]{{Judaism Vs. Catholicism} Vs. Protestantism} vs. Humanism[/size]
The notion that the “Judeo-Christian tradition” be a single tradition is nonsensical. Judaism and Christianity stand just as irreconcilably opposed to one another as Humanism stands to the both of them; and within Christianity, Catholicism and Protestantism in turn also stand just as irreconcilably opposed to one another. Nevertheless, Judaism and Christianity have something in common that stands them diametrically opposed to Humanism. Both are inconceivable without a God-concept.

The discussion between the “Judeo-Christian and the Humanistic” traditions is a continuation of an earlier discussion, and the discussion between what Wilders calls the “multikul” on the one hand and what I call his “unikul” on the other is itself also a continuation of an earlier discussion. The discussion between the Judeo-Christian tradition on the one hand and the Humanistic on the other is basically a discussion between “God is required” and “God is not required”, respectively. I don’t think this is an issue in the discussion in which Wilders is engaged. We may call both parties in that discussion “Humanistic”. The fact that not all participants in that discussion are secular Humanists does not affect this in the slightest.

What, then, is the difference between the two parties in that discussion?—The one is uniculturalistic and the other multiculturalistic. Let’s first take a closer look at the latter. We already saw that genuine multiculturalism is of necessity culturally relativistic, but that many so-called “multiculturalists” are really uniculturalistic. Why is that?—In order to understand this, we must first trace our way back step by step to the beginning of the entire Western liberalisation process.

Step three

The third liberalisation was, as indicated earlier, man’s emancipation from God. In Humanism, as the word suggests, man is central, not God. In a manner of speaking, Humanism puts brackets around God and His will (which was believed to have been revealed in the Bible). In Judeo-Christianity, man is expected to obey God, and God in turn is expected to have his gaze fixed on what Plato called “the Idea of the Good”. Man should listen to God, and God must look to the Idea of the Good. Now when one puts brackets around God, what happens is that man is expected to listen directly to the Idea of the Good, and even if he doesn’t, to at least be able to hear that Idea. His reason is the mind’s ear by virtue of which he’s able to do so.

Step two

The second liberalisation basically promoted every Christian to his own priest. Prior to this, most Christians were “laymen”, and as such required a priest for their contact with God. Only priests were allowed to read the Bible. Only with the rise of Protestantism does the Bible appear in the various folk languages; prior to that, it only appeared in Latin, the official language of the Church. On top of that, Protestantism liberalises by shifting the focus from good deeds to genuine faith, and thereby from the public domain (society) to the private (the individual): “the just shall live by faith.”

Step one

The first liberalisation was the step from Judaism to Christianity. In itself simple enough. Christianity is essentially an offshoot of Judaism that is also accessible to Gentiles. But why did this happen specifically within Judaism? Was it a coincidence? I contend that Judaism finds itself in the same kind of Catch-22 situation as multiculturalism. It’s the same kind of situation because multiculturalism is a direct “descendant” of Judaism. Judaism contains the seed of its own destruction, and this seed reaches its full maturity in the actual self-destruction of cultural relativism.

Each time when I used the word “Judaism” above, I meant the later Judaism. By “the later Judaism” I mean Judaism since the Babylonian Captivity at the latest. And with this, we arrive at “step zero”.

Step zero

Step zero is the decisive step, even though it’s not a liberalisation but simply a liberation. Note that the word “liberation” is pretty cynical here. For it designates the Jewish people’s “liberation” from its nobility, i.e. its warrior caste. Nietzsche calls this a “castration” (The Will to Power, section 184).

Prior to this castration, Judaism was not monotheistic yet. It recognised the gods of other peoples, and also had multiple gods itself. Yahweh was, among other things, the Jewish war god, and of supreme importance for this reason. For without the favour of a powerful war god, people back then did not believe to stand a chance against hostile tribes and peoples. Unfortunately, Yahweh turned out to not be powerful enough. Or at least, that is Nietzsche’s metaphorical interpretation:

[size=95]“Originally, especially in the time of the kingship, Israel too stood to all things in the right, i.e. the natural, relation. Its Yahweh was the expression of the consciousness of power, of joy in itself [i.e., in Israel], of hope in itself: in him it expected victory and salvation […]. This state of affairs long remained the ideal, even when it had flown in a dismal fashion: anarchy within, the Assyrians from outside. But the people held on as the highest desirability to that vision of a king who is a good soldier and a severe judge […].—But every hope remained unfulfilled. The old god was no longer capable of anything of which he used to be capable. They should have let him go. What happened? They changed his concept,—they denaturalised his concept: at this price they held on to him.” (Source: Nietzsche, The Antichrist, section 25; my translation.)[/size]
The new Jewish god-concept was basically monotheistic. For the Jews had only two options: either to believe in an exclusive god who was more powerful than all other gods taken together, or to disintegrate as a people. For they could interpret their defeats in only two ways: either Yahweh was simply not powerful enough, or the Jewish people had fallen out of his favour. And in order to believe that, when he would be favourably disposed toward them again, Yahweh would restore the Jews to power, they had to believe that he would be able to restore them to power no matter what—in other words, that he would be able to do so even if all the other gods were to stand in his way, i.e. that he was more powerful than all the other gods taken together. Henceforth Yahweh is conceived in this way, so that he is basically the only real god, whereas all the other gods are, compared to him, mere angels, fallen or not.—But why had the Jews fallen out of his favour?

[size=95]“[U]nder the hand of the Jewish priest, the great age in the history of Israel becomes a time of [moral] decay; the captivity, the long misfortune was transformed into an eternal punishment for the great age[.]” (Source: Nietzsche, ibid., section 26.)[/size]
In order to hold on to their god and thereby to their existence as a people, the Jews had to carry through a revaluation of values. “Worldly” power was now considered evil and “worldly” impotence good. And this revaluation has still not been lived down; it still lives on in our post-Christian, still all too Christian morality. One of the most famous Jews in history, Jesus of Nazareth, drew the only logical conclusion from this denaturalisation of values: he completely stopped defending himself (not to mention attacking anyone).

Genuine multiculturalism is really a kind of Jesus. For a culturally relativistic culture cannot prefer itself over another culture—not even over a culturally monistic culture which considers itself superior to all other cultures. Just like Jesus, who did not judge those who wanted to hit him on the cheek, the genuine multiculturalist is not free to judge cultures that negatively judge his own and attach consequences to their judgment. And with this I arrive at the reason why I call Wilders’ uniculturalism “unikul”.

I will make myself clear by the hand of an example. In May of 2008, Wilders said:

[size=95]“One can only answer intolerance with intolerance, that’s just the way it is, my friends. It may not be pleasant, not politically correct. But if you do not want to be eaten yourself, you will have to eat the other.”[/size]
Wilders is intolerant against intolerance. This is of course inconsistent.

Step zero is the step from consistent master morality to inconsistent slave morality. Wilders harks back to the impossible position of the Jews, who in order to be consistent have to choose between natural values and unnatural values. The natural values are “good and bad”, i.e. “‘worldly’ powerful and ‘worldly’ impotent”; the unnatural values are “good and bad”, i.e. “‘worldly’ impotent” and “‘worldly’ powerful”. Wilders fights for the “worldly” power of our unnatural values.——

Whoa, I just discovered a very silly typo in the final paragraph: the unnatural values are of course “good and evil”, not “good and bad”!

For clarity’s sake, I will rewrite the penultimate sentence:

[size=95]The natural values are “good and bad”, i.e. “‘worldly’ powerful and ‘worldly’ impotent”, respectively; the unnatural values are “good and evil”, i.e. “‘worldly’ impotent and ‘worldly’ powerful”, respectively.[/size]

A couple of thoughts as I take a break from work, I know it misses your main thesis.

Even if there was a true, objective, pan-cultural morality that any healthy human being would assent to, it remains the case that free will and cultural influence are such that we are obviously capable of divorcing ourselves from that morality (or any other morality) in the right circumstance. And if one person can do it, then many people can do it- everybody can do it. In otherwords, the natural and universal can become the cultural because of what we are. Maybe there’s a pan-human set of ethical values, and maybe the Maori are the only people living according to them. What then?
As far as being intolerant against intolerance, it almost sounds plausible until you remember that only one political faction has been handed the authority to declare things intolerant, and the cavalier fashion they toss the word around.

That’s some crazy assed shit honky?


Your metanarrative threads are very interesting (I found this through The West. A Straussian Metanarrative.)

One thing that might have been interesting in connection with the narrative in this thread would be either tying in or comparing Greek and Roman polytheistic religions and empires and how they would incorporate other gods into their own pantheon in order to colonize those lands. I am not sure if other polytheistic religions did the same thing…

One question that strikes me about the final assertion being made, that Wilders is “unikul” because he is trying to defend incompatbile viewpoints, and that he has an inconsistent slave morality. I might be off here, but I wonder to what extent the conscious explanations (in this case moralities and cultures) are really the overriding and defining impetus for our actions. The Christian teaching of “turn the other cheek” might have helped early slaves in the Roman empire with a feeling of stoicism (even if resentful or self-righteous) towards social position and treatment, it did not hold them back from rebellions against Romans, and later acts like the Inquisition.

(Looking it up I am seriously lacking in my knowledge of this history Roman Christians:–Roman_wars and for example)

If this is the case (that the outward explanation and mode of action do not reconcile) the question would be to what degree does this incongruity affect the individual holding it?

Another way of looking at this is, if every society is stratified (and I think this is safe to say even of the post-revolutionary periods as well as in communist states), and we can define certain of the people as Masters and others as Slaves, how much is either group affected by their consciously held ideologies and the incongruities between those ideologies and their actions, respectively?

Is the indictment against the post-revolutionary Committee for commiting the act we call the “Reign of Terror” while professing “slave morality” an aesthetic indictment? (It offends our sensibility of the beautiful or the noble?) Or does the discongruity (between the slave morality and the master-agressive action) point to a deeper issue that affects the society and culture (namely nihilism).

One reason I might give to point that the latter might not be the case (or at least it warrants deeper study and inquiry), is that we have to ask what nihilism really is and define it from all sides. We might say it’s a feeling of despair and despondency about life (life-denying). But we have to at least consider the fact that in ancient Greece, Hippocrates was already aware of and diagnosing “melancholia”. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information about its prevailence in ancient Greece, so it is definitely an unclear issue. We might say that Hippocrates lived in the time of Pericles of Athens, and so a democratic time, and the fact that the lines of master-slave morality were being blurred, and he might have been diagnosing patients of a slavish morality. Perhaps it is worth deeper inquiry.