Thus Spake; Zarathustra Review

He who said ‘God is a Spirit’—made the greatest stride and slide hitherto made on earth towards unbelief: such a dictum is not easily amended again on earth!” – Thus Spake; Zarathustra,  Chapter LXXVIII: The Ass-Festival. Thomas Common translation.

Nietzsche’s philosophical novel was an amazing read. At the time I began to read it, I hadn’t really been captivated by a novel since the Harry Potter series (which I love) and I found most fantasy stories to be really boring. I had first become familiar with it after reading a philosophical analysis of one of my favorite video games, Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. I knew Nocturne was conveying some philosophy, but I didn’t know what at the time. I discovered Nocturne is a spiritual re-telling of certain portions of the novel.

I didn’t expect much at the time, it was mostly curiosity in relation to the game. I suspected that I’d find it boring. To my surprise, it was initially quite a laughable read. Zarathustra is humiliated in front of a crowd whom he tries to speak with as equals. The crowds throughout the novel are always seen as hateful and resentful of anything outside of their small town or village community, they resent and fear any change to better themselves, and spend their days not having a clear opinion on what they want from life or any direction on how they seek to motivate their own improvement, but rather live in indolence seeking only self-gratification and nothing else. This is one of the recurring themes of the novel when Zarathustra travels. Zarathustra seeks to be honest with himself and philosophizes his views, but doing so means he’s ridiculed, ostracized, and labeled dangerous for criticizing core beliefs that are held as sacrosanct. People just don’t want to listen to him and instead make spurious personal attacks based upon the most haphazard of claims.

Nevertheless, the beginning portion goes from particularly inspiring with his evocative words about teaching people of the Ubermensch in the beginning of the novel to a bizarre sort of tragicomedy immediately after. Zarathustra speaks to a crowd that doesn’t wish to understand him and instead ask him about the Last Man which he warns about; the Last Man being the aforementioned indolent dweller who doesn’t care about anything but self-gratification. The tightrope walker falls off from their circus act and severely injures himself which scares the crowd into fleeing. Nobody from the crowd helps the dying tightrope walker except Zarathustra who listens to his dying request to be buried. Zarathustra takes his body, which people in other parts of the village use as shortsighted “evidence” to accuse Zarathustra of grave-robbing, and leaves it up a tree to avoid wolves eating the dead man’s flesh. He sits down and gets absorbed into his own thoughts for awhile before leaving the dead body in the tree. I had laughed at this at first because Zarathustra clearly misunderstood the man’s request and didn’t really follow through with it despite convincing himself that he had. It was really peculiar and apart from being comical, I don’t see much on what that specific scenario was meant to convey. By contrast, the chapter immediately after about making good habits was immediately clear and brought back the interest.

Throughout his journey, Zarathustra extols some very interesting perspectives, but it’s always with the pernicious culture of vitriol and hatred for his teachings by various small town or small village communities who refuse to engage and don’t care to change their habits. Zarathustra points out that people prefer simplistic narratives of good and evil based on their culture or community instead of evaluating right and wrong for themselves. This is particularly evident in religious cultures. They claim to be about their own justice and goodness, but put their brains to sleep when faced with corruption or just blame humanity in general instead of fighting back against such corrupt individuals and corrupt institutions. He guides the reader into asking, if these religious teachings of your community are truly so moral and wonderful, if their values are universally correct as your religion might claim them to be, then why doesn’t it stop abusive behavior from happening? And on the charge of blaming humanity in general when they fail, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra argues that this is responding to genuine criticisms with pure hatred. Theologians and the herd who argue that humans will always be violent or abusive by nature in this circular reasoning argument that “humans are humans” are actually expressing pure hatred for humanity. It doesn’t challenge or confront people who harm you or who harm those you love, it’s just a way of throwing away an argument by refusing to listen and instead opting for a nihilistic hatred for all of humanity as a sort of divine answer.

His criticisms of religion, which are his most salient and paradoxically his most ignored contentions, seem to have gone completely unchallenged. I’ve looked for critiques online and nobody mentions his criticisms on religion. In fact, when I join Nietzsche groups online (which usually have 2000+ members) and begin discussing his criticisms of religion, I am immediately banned from such groups. So-called Nietzsche fans like saying that he contradicted himself or didn’t really say anything, but no one ever seems to be aware or brings up his criticisms of religion. So-called readers of Nietzsche never once speak of it. The closest I’ve seen to an honest critique is Alain de Bottom and a lecture video by Jordan Peterson in one of his classes. By contrast, Christian theologians are notoriously dishonest; repeatedly claiming Nietzsche said things that he never did. I even read an online book in which the author cited Nietzsche by cutting out half the words in a aphorism to claim Nietzsche said something that he never advocated for. I’ve seen Nietzsche quotes pages on facebook full of quotes that Nietzsche never once wrote. Most other scholars of Nietzsche, even on Quora, seem to have read critiques of Nietzsche but never Nietzsche’s actual works. They don’t read to form their opinions on Nietzsche, they read criticisms of Nietzsche and believe those criticisms to be absolute fact and never bother to actually read Nietzsche. Some might argue its due to the confusion over Elizabeth Forster-Nietzsche appropriating his works for her Nazi ideologies, Heidegger’s own appropriation in which he created a Strawman, or perhaps the strawman delusions of Bertrand Russell; but in all honesty, these sorts of strawman depictions exist for every famous person. Even the US Founding Fathers are constantly misinterpreted. I think what underlies all this confusion is the human capacity of heuristics. People believe they can judge and know everything about a single human being from a few short excerpts and judge their entire life based on a few short sentences they read. This does have evolutionary benefits like spotting really dangerous people like Adolf Hitler, but it can be misused and people can be manipulated into seeing hatred, dishonesty, or evil from people who want to criticize bad beliefs. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi seem more like exceptions than the rule, where the character assassinations against them eventually backfired. But for people criticizing ideas without civil disobedience or in a context where civil disobedience isn’t a factor, it becomes much harder to be listened to from others.

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What future does Neoliberalism bring?

Not sure what value this brings and apologies if this sounds like a nonsensical doomsday spiel, but looking through the causes and consequences, I don’t think neoliberalism does anything positive in the long-term for the health, growth, and wellbeing of a nation-state. This is obvious at this point even just looking purely at the US’s contemporary trajectory . . . but taking the past 20 years altogether gives us a far dire picture of what that means when considering the rejection of neoliberalism across the world, particularly South America.

Neoliberalism, applied with such a fundamentalist style upon education, healthcare, and the erosion of social services with a overemphasis on the free market fixing all issues seems to lay the groundwork for both anti-intellectualism as we’ve seen from ignorant masses who look for quick explanations to blame their troubles on people they see instead of policy decisions by the US government and for monopolistic markets to exploit the larger masses with lies about trickle-down and reasons behind war campaigns.

Crucially, and it’s a surprise nobody rebuffs neoliberalism for this, capitalist markets are far too myopic to focus on ongoing environmental and social issues that are needed to safeguard from cataclysmic environmental disasters. Free markets have to compete and their views, time, resources, and energy are motivated both by monetary gain and by effective measurements to surpass the competition and that’s often in a time-sensitive manner. The use of shock events like environmental disaster to spread neoliberalism implies massive disasters are useful and profitable for these myopic markets. That is blatantly dangerous for a plethora of environmental and human rights reasons. Yet, the myopic views of corporate organizations would be too blind to them.

Republican and Democrat tacit or openly willful support of policies that deregulate, shrink, or destabilize the safety net. Policies that leave large vacancies, and remove government assistance for not just the most at risk, but all individuals representing 90% of the public represents not just short-term narcissism by legislatures or myopia towards campaign contributions but a fundamental disregard for what government means for the people and what it does for the people. We see it clearly with gerrymandering and the criticism of the two-party system by the founders having become incredibly apparent . . . but also the lack of foresight in their thinking that legislatures should have a separateness from majority opinion. Such ideas have positives and negatives but we now see the negatives worsening. The Republican party’s deregulation and policies of economic drift is continuing to be motivated by fundamentalist Christians who feel pleasure and truth from assisting in the deregulatory efforts.

The leadership has similarly thoroughly eroded in solutions and options to complex issues. As we saw when the crop of neoliberal contenders for the Republican base failed to stop the sweeping tide of Trump’s blatantly racist rhetoric and liberals rejected Clinton in favor of Bernie due to policy preferences. The reason Trump won was primarily due to this empty belief in hope – immersed with nationalistic fervor and a yearning for a mythic view of yesteryears – and neoliberalist economic enthusiasts capitalized on it to further push a neoliberal agenda of deregulation mixed with a capricious modus operandi on everything else. Trump is not some masterful threat, that notion is laughable and I can’t regard it with any degree of seriousness, but what his presidency does mean is that anyone with somewhat more intelligence and guile could cause a situation not too far removed from Japanese encampment or even something more murderous and violent like the Holocaust. The fact Trump was successful and has no real policy objectives shows us this and shows that voters can easily be duped into thinking a clown is intelligent. We don’t, as a democratic nation-state, have the will, knowledge, or safeguards to prevent future horrific events. Many would even embrace tyranny… and destroy everything we purportedly stand for.

I feel now that, based on the ongoing wars that continue due to incompetence and the complete failures to formulate an effective foreign policy agenda or long-term plan for places we should have won years back, the dismantling of safety nets for common sense legislation like clean air, and the lack of foresight on what should be considered a principal national interest in environmental policies; what we’re experiencing, and have witnessed with the 20 years of self-damage from the debt, reckless Wall Street greed that came as a consequence of deregulation, and the fracturing of the middle class with the wider society now working 2 jobs just to survive; in conjunction with a decreasing faith in the US government and mainstream media . . . is demonstrable evidence that the end result of neoliberal fundamentalism is the enthusiastic self-annihilation of a nation-state. If a government doesn’t do anything for a people then, notwithstanding threats of violence, there leaves little that will be followed or inspired or even maintained in the long-term. Will the future of the US even be recognizable when compared to its past, if we keep seeing neoliberalist fundamentalism pushing everything in one bleak direction? I doubt it now and the track record is evidence that any turn around may be a small pebble in a vast ocean of bad policy design. The wage gaps, the economic divide between the wealthy and the poor, the rising tide of racial aggression, the massive debt, and the endless wars – all and everything, at it’s core, is due to the belief in the economic policy of neoliberalism.

The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Self-refuting and unsubstantiated

Please note: I’m not giving a negative review on the basis of the thesis of the argument. I’m giving a negative review because of how bafflingly self-refuting the author’s arguments were.

Reading this book, I held no real opinions on the matter. I was, to the best of my knowledge, impartial to the thesis being made. What I found bizarre was how inconsistent, arbitrary, and unfounded much of his arguments were.
I’ll just begin with the examples;

The most glaring self-contradiction is when he quoted an argument in favor of recognizing Shakespeare, the Bible, and Huckleberry Finn as part of the US canon . . . and one page later, he argues that the US canon is an evolving and diverse canon and that new books will replace old ones. Within the context of the argument, he was trying to dismiss arguments that any other culture should have their books as part of the US canon besides the aforementioned books, and that they had no significant impact in Western culture . . . but then lists noteworthy philosophers who expressed viewpoints that they themselves claimed were influenced by reading Hindu and Buddhist schools of thought from translations during the 1800s. Nietzsche, in particular, studied philology and based a lot of his views from assessing the pros and cons of Buddhism which he labeled as superior to Christianity and it’s known that the 1800s philology departments of Germany were translating and studying Indian languages and comparing them to Western languages to translate books from the East. The most baffling part of this is that he quoted several of the founders who claimed their connection to Western culture is dead and that the US culture will be distinct and separate from Western schools of thought as an argument in favor for a unique US culture, but seemed to confuse himself on what that meant since he’s then making arguments in contradiction to the founders intentions by arguing the US is a western culture.

What’s peculiar is that this author claims that US culture is heterogeneous but that any other culture that adapts to foreign influenced, especially Eastern culture making adaptions, is really just imitating the Western influences and shouldn’t reflect positively on those cultures. So, evidently, when the US is suppose to be heterogeneous and adaptable to other cultures, but shouldn’t adapt Eastern culture. And, if Eastern culture adapts and enjoys Western schools of thought, then it proves their inferior? Keep in mind, this man claims to be a historian but seems to be utterly ignorant of the systematic removal of “heathen” ideas of the East throughout several cultural campaigns in the West.

He claims ethnic studies should be taught . . . but then claims that ethnic studies aren’t needed except for Native Americans, because kids get their cultural background understandings from their families and he doesn’t seem to consider the timeframe of how long these families toil at work or have the chance to make a living. He celebrates West African children not knowing their cultural heritage or understanding their families native languages as proof of being more oriented towards US culture, but seems to ignore the fact this badly damages his previous argument that people maintain their cultural backgrounds from their families.

He claims Black Americans are the most inculcated in US culture because of the dislocation from native Africa, the destruction of their previous heritages, and the force fed adaption to whatever culture the White slave-owners forced upon them. He clearly states that Black Americans could be regarded as the most American. Then, he decries the horrors of teaching this false history in New York schools. The problem is though, having grown-up in New York State, I can freely say that he’s wrong about all this racial overemphasis without regard for history. The only international class we had was focused on European history exclusively. We never learned anything about Africa besides their relation to the slave trade with Europe. His arguments about this anti-intellectual falsehood of Black history supposedly began in 1987 . . . but if that’s the case, then I never once experienced it in the early 2000s. Looking back at it, all the author really did was cherrypick stupid quotes to make sweeping generalizations. It is genuinely untrue that any of this farce that he talks about ever happened in NY State high schools. All I learned was European history and that was it. He made such a big deal out of this, quoting stupid comments over and over, and none of it had any truth to it or any impact on the educational system. What I found particularly disgusting was that he’s unwilling to condemn or recognize human genocides of multiple ethnic groups who want their trials and tribulations recognized in history books, but there is a strong rejection of this in favor of a stupid set of half-truths and outright falsehoods being taught in the education system today about US history. Half of the work is basically telling kids they’re wrong about what the education system taught them in first grade. It’s pathetic.

Much like his argument against the person who made the film Roots, he criticizes him for only going by his mother’s genealogy and not his father’s, who led all the way back to Irish descent. Yet, that isn’t a good argument against racism by the West. The Irish were forced into slavery and sold to South America under British rule, suffered a horrible genocidal famine orchestrated by a racist lunatic who oversaw the problems with the corn and potato famine, and purposefully killed 2 million Irish people with their terrible policies. And, then the surviving refugees in the US suffered racist policies by anti-Catholics who discriminated them for their Irish heritage. The author, yet again, refuted their own argument.

The last portion made me raise an eyebrow. He argues that the Left has gone too far with ethnic issues . . . and then makes a total non-sequitur argument using ableism as an example of the Left taking social justice too far. Ableism is the discrimination against people with handicap issues in jobs, school facilities, shopping centers, and tourism. I honestly began shaking my head over the callous disregard for the plight of handicap people and wondered why he would list this as a trite and worthless issue. Disabled people, especially children, most assuredly need to have areas that help assist with their disabilities.

Overall, the thesis is unsubstantiated, and I honestly have no idea how someone could write a book that contradicted itself with no ability to make discernible or meaningful points on what they’re arguing or what the end product of his ideas would even look like. Finally, if it’s wrong to have an ethnocentric cult-like culture – which I don’t disagree with – why then emphasize the West’s ethnocentricity to rebuke the ethnocentric narrative?

The SJW Left and the Alt-Right

People argue that these opposing sides should come together and find common ground, but you can’t debate with people who dismiss everything you say and don’t want to hear it. This is conceit; pure and simple. There is no chance that debates with people who don’t even agree on what a fact is can yield anything worthwhile. I’ve tried, this is a short essay explaining why I’ve given up.

You can’t talk about context, important global issues, or facts with people who dismiss you out of hand based on the idea that no matter what, you’re just touting pure garbage from “Fake news” sites. The Alt-Right has made it clear that they don’t understand national objectives and don’t distinguish when it’s important for nation desiring to go to war vs issues of gender equality They like shouting “cuck” and “sjw” to feel good about their miserable lives every 5 minutes instead of honestly examining beliefs. When I explain anything to them, they erroneously and pretentiously argue on one point – usually associated with their own feelings – than the issue itself and when pressed on issues, they revert back to “oh you’re blaming white people for everything!” as if anybody ever even made that claim when arguing about climate change, global wars that burn alive civilians with drone bombings – including children being victims of such bombings, or a massive 20 trillion dollar debt that nobody is doing anything about. Meanwhile, shouting “sand nigger” is fine when explaining their dislike of Muslims.

We have all these pressing issues and the world is only going to get worse from the US pulling out of the Paris Climate change agreement . . . but instead we’re talking about what random meme Trump is tweeting. The saddest part is, the mainstream media went from mocking him to… taking him seriously as of now. As if we should expect seriousness of any kind because a joke is in office. Somehow giving more self-importance to him is going to help fix the country and lead it? The Alt-right doesn’t even understand context and constantly disparages everything until it’s reduced to their special feelings about being a white male Christian. I honestly tried understanding what the issue was to see if there is any steps to be taken to ameliorate whatever is going on. But I was being arrogant and foolish in doing so.

Here’s all I found for my troubles:

#Identity politics are bad and lead to losing elections – except when talking about White Male Christians feeling oppressed. Whenever identity politics is talked about for minorities, the context is forcefully changed to exclamations of white men being blamed for everything.

#SJW Cucks should stop being “special snowflakes” and deal with insults when given to them – but insulting Trump or “white people” (whatever that means since they’re generalizing a broad range of people based on skin pigmentation) is wrong and you should apologize to show respect. Oh, but also, you should be allowed to say whatever you want without being told to stop.

#paygap women shouldn’t get paid equally to men because they lack testosterone. Women are evidently always passive and don’t ask for a raise as much as men.

They’ve done no research on this since the data has shown women asking for raises generally face reprimand while men who do the same don’t face such reprimand. They don’t even seem to understand that this would reduce the jobs of men in the long run, because any intelligent hiring manager would recognize that choosing between an equally competent man and woman for a position would mean that they would obviously go for the one they’d be paying 30 cents less. They’re too dumb to even understand that.

#Feminism issues: Insulting women for their appearance like their hair, breast size, weight, and so forth should be a free speech right; but women calling you a shithead for it is wrong and they’re horrible people for responding like that. Oh, and everyone should have the right to say what they want but third-wave feminism is bad and evil for teaching young adult women and men about responsible sex.

#Terrorism: we should make Trump memes when video footage of bombings happen to feel smug about bombing another country instead of horrified for allowing things like “the mother of all bombs” being dropped and killing a mass amount of people. Also, we should believe Trump when he says there’s no civilian casualties, because we can trust him with that when he’s flip-flopped and argued the opposite of his original argument on every other issue.

There’s no debating people who don’t even understand objective, scientific analysis and don’t put value in it or in anything that you have to say. We’re at the most pressing juncture of reducing climate change and the US is literally going to lead to a permanent environmental disaster with the clown in charge and will have absolutely nothing of value to offer the next 4 years to either wind-down the wars or reduce debt. If serious leaders like Obama and Bush couldn’t do it, then there’s no way a clown who can’t be bothered to do anything besides tweet stupid shit is ever going to do anything of value in reducing the debt, reducing greenhouse gases, or ending the two wars. North Korea is shooting nuclear bombs into Japanese waters and Trump gets into a twitter war as a response. There are people who are waiting for greenhouse gases to have a planned and concerted fix to prevent climate disaster so they can feel secure in having children and the response has been more pipelines and bigger bombs for oil wars.

Democracy, in all its forms, has utterly failed. It’s the result of a middle-ground fallacy with objective scientific research on environmental impacts versus the special feelings of people who don’t value fact-checking at all. They like reducing issues to simplistic monolithic entities that they can scream at with their keyboards. They don’t care and have no inkling or even desire to understand what the global issues are or how they’re progeny are now imitating them to feel good about themselves. Facts are reduced and re-contextualized to trying to appease their emotional sensibilities towards factual evidence. The very issue becomes asinine and absolutely nothing is achieved.