Reading Nietzsche at the RNC

“Beware of those in whom the will to punish is strong.”


I thought this week was as good a time as any to pick up Nietzsche again; the rise of Trump’s “law and order campaign” reminded me of Nietzsche’s warnings about just such a danger, i.e. a messianic cult with an insular ideology of restoring some vague past glory while punishing some out-group(s) for soiling it—especially with “Make America great again” sounding so eerily similar (albeit not identical) to the messaging of the National Socialists in the ’30s.

It’s worth noting that there is apparently a correlation between belief in free will and the desire to punish, which I’ve written about here. Of course Nietzsche was critical of both. But what would he say about the RNC? Well let’s see, there’s already been a show trial, complete with a call-and-response “guilty!” chant reminiscent of the Inquisition, a plagiarized speech (about the virtue of hard work, ironically), and the invocation of Lucifer as one of many—and some even more demonized—political enemies (I guess Ben Carson has not read his Voltaire). I think it’s safe to say that Nietzsche would be fairly appalled, although he may have chuckled at the billboard for the movie “God’s Not Dead 2” (I haven’t seen the first one), if it had been posted as planned.

That the fundamentalist Right needs to insist that God is not dead (no show trial for his murderers either, shucks) is, however, an indication that doubt continues to creep in among the ranks of the Crusaders. Nietzsche, were he able to address them, might remind them that most do not have the courage to face what they really know, deep down. And so the circus continues.


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