Skip to comments.Nihilist Mutants
Posted on 05/29/2003 9:35:58 AM PDT by G. Stolyarov II
20th Century evil is hydra-headed. Lop off one head; it grows another. With the defeat of the Kaiser's welfare Reich, the menace of Nazism arose. With the defeat of Nazism, Communism menaced. With the collapse of the Reds, the Greens were waiting in the wings. Why?
The short answer is that they are interchangeable. They posture as enemies, but they were (and are) each others' best source of recruits. That prompts another "Why?"
The answer is that these evils are variants of a more fundamental evil. They are all mutations of nihilismradical rejection of the good, absolutely and in principle; rejection of what is good by any standard and by all standards, rejection of good as such. The emotional expression of nihilism is "hatred of the good for being the good." (1.)
Good guys can't believe nihilism. They can't imagine that anyone could accept nihilism, let alone try to practice nihilism, let alone cultivate in himself a hatred of the good. The good guys' naivete on this point is their main strategic weakness: how do you fight enemies you can't even believe exist?
Nihilism exists. Its fingerprints, footprints and feces are on every major trend of the 20th century. It is all but explicit in the most influential philosopher of the era: Kant. The two facts are related. (2.)
Nihilism is radical rejection of self-interest, of what Kant called "inclination." Every good is someone's interest, so rejection of self-interest is rejection of the good. To deny egoism is to uphold nihilism.
Nihilism is so horrific that hardly anyone can take it straight. Mutations of morality since Kant hold on to his nihilism, but hide behind pretenses of some kind of good, pretenses which have grown more flimsy and transparent over time.
An early nihilist mutant hid behind the good of other men. It held that pursuing your own good is wicked, but you could rescue your virtue by serving other men's good. This, of course, is altruism.
Altruism had a long run, but was doomed by its own nihilist origins. After all, other men's good means other men's selfishness.
Collectivism is another nihilist mutant. It holds that seeking individual goods is wicked, but seeking group goods is virtuous; there is virtue in serving the Race, the State, the Fatherland, the Proletariat, Womankind or what have you.
Collectivism, too, is doomed by its nihilist essence. Groups are made up of members, and there is no good of a group apart from the good of its members. So we're back to plain old individual selfishness.
Environmentalism is the latest nihilist mutant. It holds that man's good must be destroyed, but the good of other species preserved. There is virtue in seeking the good of trees, birds and soft-shelled clams!
Environmentalism, too, is doomed by its own nihilist essence. It will die when enviros see that every living being seeks its own good. Then even the enviro ideal of a wilderness devoid of human life will be damned as a cesspit of selfishness, in which all inhabitants from bacteria to beans to bugs to buffaloes ceaselessly, selfishly seek to live!
Rejection of self-interest boils down to rejection of life. Nihilism's final ideal is a moonscape scrubbed clean of life.
This last is just a theoretical projection, (3.) but altruism, collectivism and environmentalism are historical fact. So is their unremitting hatred of any personal, individual good of selfishness. They are all nihilist mutants.
In every nihilist mutant, the motive is nihilism. The phoney "good" it offers is sucker bait! Nihilism is crusading evil.
We don't have to remain the slaves of a dead German. We can defeat nihilism utterly. In its mutant forms it is a fraud. In its pure form it is a smear: the smear of "selfishness." Smears can be defeated by boldly flaunting the smear term as a badge of honor.
Have you the courage to flaunt selfishness as a badge of honor? That's what the defeat of nihilism requires.
And that, in essence, is all it requires!
1. See The Age of Envy, in The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, by Ayn Rand, Signet paperback. 2. See Nihilism (http://www.geocities.com/rationalargumentator/Nihilism.html) for a sketch of the evidence linking Kant to the major evils of the 20th century. 3. I think. I don't follow the "deep ecology" literature.
For those who have been introduced to Kant, they must immediately recognize that his work was in no small part an attempt to save the individual from complete oblivion by the over-arching state. Due to Kant and Rousseau we are left with the singular individual - state tension that devours so many of the conversations regarding political theory. But now we have presented Kant as a target to raise the status of the individual against all forms of social cohesion. We can be rest assured we have a tyrant of another kind. The evil of the state can't be used to justify the morality of the individual.
Perhaps Miller is better off adulating some neo-Kantian thinkers who raised the status of the ego to such heights (Fichte) you could literaly call them ego-maniacs.
This thread speaks of the Self as god in German Philosophy
The seeds of American prosperity and power lie in individuals generating wealth through whatever means are at hand, ie., entrepreneurship. The wealth thus generated creates jobs, as well as opportunities for more individuals to strike out on their own to generate even more wealth.