Nietschze: The Anti-American Philosophy?

Was the philosophy of Friedrich Nietschze the antithesis of “Americanism”?

“Americanism” professes human equality, democracy, optimism, and (to most Americans) the existence of God. Nietschze’s philosophy of course touts the values of an aristocracy of the strong, pessimism, and “God Is dead” philosphy.

According to who? As far as I can tell, “Americanism” means plutocracy, the casual exploitation and murder of anyone outsides the borders of America, militarism, the destruction and suppression of democracy whenever it proves inconvenient, bullying, submission to authority, the admiration of greed and ruthlessness; the loathing of compassion and fairness.

I’ll grant you the God part though; America’s religiosity is one it its major defects.

I mean the idealistic version of Americanism: propounded by Thomas Jefferson and continued by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Well, you can manufacture a sharp philosophical antithesis between pretty much any two positions if you define the two positions selectively enough.

Your definitions of “Americanism” and “Nietzsche’s philosophy” leave out a number of potential similarities between them, such as individualism, the importance of ambition and the drive to achievement, belief in human progress and perfectibility, and self-fulfillment.

I don’t think “Americanism” equates with human equality. The ideal is that everyone should have equal opportunities not that everyone will always remain equal. People should be allowed to rise or fall to the level of their abilities. The result would resemble an “aristocracy of the strong”.


The reality is that there is not one philosophy, nor is one philosophy a perfect antithesis of the other.

The equality & justice is the morality of the masses. After the fashion of Nietzsche’s term “slave morality” we can call this “sucker morality.” The douchebag principles are the morality of the rulers. “Master morality” after Nietzsche’s term, or, since power means not having to be sorry, sometimes just no morality at all.

Since when? All I see is the masses cheering the plutocrats and tyrants on and grovelling before them. One of the distinguishing features of America, is America is the nation when the powerful can abuse the less powerful, and the less powerful think it’s just fine. Forget “Don’t tread on me”; this is the nation of "Thank you sir, may I have another! < whack > "

Der Trihs, you say that the less powerful think that it’s just fine to be abused. Would you give some examples of that?

In essence, Nietzsche’s philosophy is a form of romanticism, the antithesis – rather, an antithesis – of humanism and modernity. The idea of a religious basis of society (regardless of the religion in question) is also antithetical to it. See “Which Civilisation?” by Michael Lind, Prospect, 10/25/01:

The 2004 election comes to mind…

The OP gets Nietzsche’s philosophy hilariously, predictably wrong, too.

Not all of us are like your characterization of us by any means, Der Trihs.

Some of us…a significant number…despise the playground bully aspect of our nation’s character every bit as much as you do…and we truly effort to try to change our national direction in that regard.

In fact, some of the people with whom you disagree strongly in this forum may be more on your side in that particular issue than with (what you see as) the general perception of the American people.

I despise the many speeches our leaders make that end with “…and may god bless the United States of America”, Der Trihs, but I despise the “…we are the world’s only super power” bullshit even more.

I think Barak Obama is a decent person and a reasonable leader…but when he does either of those things, I cringe.

In any case, there IS a greater good for humanity that we…and the citizens of way too many other nations…seem unwilling to acknowledge in any meaningful way.

If you are saying we are Americans are major players in that kind of conduct…I say AMEN.

However, many of us are working on it…and we at least like to be acknowledged as not part of the other rabble.

Outside of Wikipedia, where have you gained knowledge of Nietschze and his teachings?

Well, there aren’t just two moralities either. I am from a somewhat “conservative” GOP district, I am familiar with what you speak of.

I thought this, but I really don’t know much about Nietzsche. (I do, however love the work of Robert Hewitt Wolfe. :))

If I recall correctly, Jefferson was not exactly a paragon of human equality, and Lincoln’s personal views on white and black people were not exactly the kind of thing that would get him elected today. I’m not sure you’ve selected the best examples of proponents of “human equality” there.

Beyond that, i’d be interested to know why you’ve picked FDR in particular as an examplar. What did he do, that other Presidents of the century did not do, to make him a proponent of human equality, democracy, optimism and the existence of God?

I don’t accept that there is any such philosophy or ideology as “Americanism.”

Neither Jefferson or Lincoln were religious by the way. Both totally rejected Christianity. Jefferson was a deits, at best, who did not believe in a god who interacted with the univers. Lincoln was highly skeptical, very critical of Christianity, and may well have been an atheist himself, though he occasionally mouthed theistic platitudes when speaking publicly.

The founding fathers certainly didn’t believe in equality either.

I guess you could say that certain ideologies have been present in American culture, such as it is (individualism, capitalism, free expression), but none of them are unique to America or Americans, and none of them were opposed by Nietschze.

You may want to be very careful with Nietschze, as his philosophy is filled with extremes. Kinda like Ayn Rand, cept he was a real philosopher.

Nietschze was an atheist, but used that atheism as a call to personal responsibility to make the world a better place for its own good and as its own merit.

Anyway, I would dispute that being an American posits a belief in God. The Constitution does not mention God a single time and specifically prohibits a religious test for office, the establishment of religion or the interference with religion. While some of the founding fathers were certainly religious and Christian, like John Adams, others had no opinion on the existence of God, most notably George Washington who referred to Providence. Note, however, that since Washington was a Mason, he affirmed a belief in a supreme being at least once in his life. His lifelong actions indicated he was non-religious in nature.

It’s easy to get wrong. Nietzsche was one of most memorable of writers, but not one of the clearest. Philosophers ever since have been puzzling over just what he was driving at.

Maybe because he has him confused with some guy named “Nietschze.”

Thing is, he gave good soundbite - so the things people get out of him: “God is dead”, “I give you the Overman” "And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. " are entirely devoid of their context. Nietzsche’s philosophy is a lifetimes study, preferably in the original, not something to be understood from some badly-translated quotes. Like all the myriad subtleties involved in Übermensch that aren’t there in the English translations.