Nihilism as American Culture. Nietsczhe's Geneology of Morals and The U.S.
The U.S. of Apathy
There is a sickness in the American society today. It is no sickness of the limbs, organs or blood, though it may be said to affect all of these parts, but rather a sickness of the mind, the heart, the soul and the very basic makeup of what we consider to be human consciousness. This disease in America comes as a result of the very thing Nietzsche warned us of so long ago; the “unrelieved loathing of man and unrelieved pity of him.” This false instinct has grown and spread over the years to such an extent that now this very Nihilism is upheld as the highest, secret “morality.” However, this is the very beast that threatens all of mankind’s impulse towards free will and free thought.
“Man’s will to nothingness, Nihilism” has taken its place as the sinister status quo in American society today. This apathetic lethargy of the will, which pollutes societies, seems to have the single purpose of lulling man into passively willing himself out of existence completely. And what more could mankind desire? Our own “loathing” and “pitying of man” has reached such an extent that they are indeed unrelieved, often going hand in hand or being used as validation for the other, interchangeably. Take for example the common, American phrase, “Be the bigger/better person and just walk away.” Is there any phrase today more vile, toxic and brimming with Nihilism? Say you are walking down the street and see the one person who is most loathsome to you. As they approach, they make a snide comment about your person and, instantly, rage fills you. The rage fills you, ignited by your deep loathing and just as you are about to relieve your self by means of violence upon them, your own pity programming turns on. You are instantly reminded, by your self, to “be the bigger/better person and just walk away.” Thus, unable to find escape your own loathing turns inward, having been blocked by your pity for a smaller, weaker or sicklier individual.
This is no new phenomenon, it is the same “perennial net of malicious conspiracy” inhabited by the most sickly of people; Those who out of fear of being loathed or pitied themselves, do nothing but sit by and pretend to pass judgment on the more alive, more daring and more dangerous men. These are those time old and despised “moral masturbators” rearing their horned heads again to spit venom across the lands of the happy. They are just as present as ever, in all spaces and with all people in the American society today. There are even those who parade about flying the flag of the moralist artist who, through art, has found something higher than what is obtainable by what they consider to be “lesser” individuals. But these new clothes do nothing to hide these wretches, for they still “bring their stunted sensuality to the market swathed in rhymes and other swaddling clothes and labeled ‘one hundred percent pure.’” Appearance of innocence has certainly become the biggest façade used in American society today, as very few Americans could honestly claim to have found any kind of higher hopes for man in society today, let alone of a truly “pure” or “moral” nature. But in this silent, solitary judgment they quietly whisper to themselves “I am loathsome. I am pitiful.” And therefore have no choice but, as Nietzsche noticed, to implant “their own misery, and all misery, in the consciousness of the happy.”
These are truly the sickliest of human beings. Trapped between the loathsome men above them and pitiful masses beneath them they retreat into the cave of their island. But will they ever return? Can they even? It is certainly possible. Even the dogmatic fear which drives their internal and external judgments, upon which they rely to remain in this state of stagnant inactivity, is itself entirely illusionary. Perhaps if they were not so drunk on their own poisonous words, thoughts and deeds they might see that the only true misery in the world is that which they summon into reality daily by their own constant negation and extreme, unchecked Nihilism. Although, this realization would require some amount of effort as these “sickly” men not only vomit their miserable suffering everywhere but must also come in flocks and herds. Indeed, they can even come by the thousands when nothing too large is being requested of them other than their passive observance, which can hardly ever be called participation. There is no more detestable, obnoxious or louder a group of people than those engaged in public, group pitying and loathing. It is, after all, the natural reaction for a man to seek safety in numbers if there is a perceived threat, especially if he is sick or injured and wholly without faith, wit, soul, imagination or strength.
As a result of this illness, we have constructed entire societies built on these Nihilistic fabrications. Here in America there is the constant threat of some loathsome individual, group or country waiting to attack at a moments noticed. This lie is then juxtaposed with the image of the poor, downtrodden, pitiful vagrant who is homeless, uneducated and almost always presented as having a drug problem. Yes, America operates on a continuum of pitying and loathing which is why both the country and its people have degenerated into nothing more than a despotic and judgmental Culture of Nihilism. This culture wills nothing but the unwilling of everything. Not by regression or haste, but by stagnation. Like a two-thousand pound man, unable to pull himself out of bed, being slowly crushed to death by the weight of his own body, so is America today. And as the final heart beats get softer, the breathing gets harder and the death rattle draws near this culture of American Nihilism must prepare to face its own judgment at the hands of that time old judge, history.
For the rest of us (those not invested in this culture of not-being) we should seek to choose, to live, to dare, to exist and to be without reliance on the false security of an imagined ordering and ranking of other men. This is no idealism, it is the simple practicality of life and life’s will toward more, new, previously unexplored life. Stagnant creatures die, slowly and painfully. Thus, there is nothing to be gained from the spread of negativity, fear and inaction but more negativity, fear and inaction. Therefore, rather than sleepily lying down and allowing this new Nihilistic Culture of America to devour everything in this world, let us take Nietzsche’s advice before it is too late and “have fresh air” and “good company, our own company…if need be.” All non-carrion animals know well to stay away from sick and dying creatures, and they do. Likewise we must “get far away from the evil vapor of internal corruption and dry rot” if we are to escape this disease of apathy and truly live.
(All citations from Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals)
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