Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thus I Heard Zarathustra Tonight

The following are a few brief excerpts from Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra. The passages are especially poignant at the current moment in time. I add my commentary afterward, which is intended to challenge you to think about your choices and put Nietzsche's words into the perspective of the contemporary world.

First, allow me to quote from the chapter titled "The New Idol."

"Somewhere there are still peoples and herds, but not with us, my brethren: here there are states."

"A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: 'I, the state, am the people.' But the state lieth in all languages of good and evil; and whatever it saith it lieth; and whatever it hath it hath stolen."

"The state, I call it, where all are poison-drinkers, the good and the bad: the state, where all lose themselves, the good and the bad: the state, where the slow suicide of all - is called 'life.'"

"Culture, they call their theft - and everything becometh sickness and trouble unto them!"

"Just see these superfluous ones! Sick are they always; they vomit their bile and call it a newspaper. Wealth they acquire and become poorer thereby. Power they seek for, and above all, the lever of power, much money - these impotent ones!"

"Madmen they all seem to me, and clambering apes, and too eager. Badly smelleth their idol to me, the cold monster: badly they all smell to me, these idolaters."

And now, let me share some lines from the chapter titled "The Flies in the Marketplace."

"Little do people understand what is great - that is to say, the creating agency. But they have a taste for all representers and actors of great things. Around the devisers of new values revolveth the world: - invisibly it revolveth. But around the actors revolveth the people and the glory: such is the course of things."

"To upset - that meaneth with him [the actor] to prove. To drive mad - that meaneth with him to convince. And blood is counted by him the best of all arguments."

"Full of clattering buffoons is the market-place, - and the people glory in their great men! These are for them the masters of the hour. But the hour presseth them; so they press thee. And also from thee they want Yea or Nay. Only in the marketplace is one assailed by Yea? or Nay?"

But -

"Away from the market-place and from fame taketh place all that is great: away from the market-Place and from fame have ever dwelt the devisers of new values. But take care lest it be thy fate to suffer all their [the rich and powerful] poisonous injustice! They flattereth thee, as one flattereth a God or devil. Often, also, do they show themselves to thee as amiable ones. They think much about thee with their circumscribed souls - thou art always suspected by them! They rejoice if once thou be humble enough to be frivolous."

Yes, indeed, "Thus spake Zarathustra."

Nietzsche wrote these thoughts in a different age, in a different world. The world of the marketplace was only just beginning to develop into what we have today. He knew not of the cajoling of advertising or the subtle, yet insidious, seduction of television and movies and the planned obsolescence of high-tech toys. He had not seen newscasters molding public opinion even as they fabricated news, slanted to make you believe in the necessity of the state and the necessity of its laws, its wars, its tax codes, its destruction of the environment for profit, and its erosion of individuality.

Our ancestors were herded off their private farms into cities. Humanity cannot subsist any longer without big agriculture and the multinational corporations that ship their packaged food to the supermarkets of the world. There is no land left to subsist upon. Your lives are those of serfs, selling away the precious hours of your so-short lives to earn a few dollars to feed and house and clothe your families. Those hours of your lives are stolen and can never be regained. Meanwhile, your toil further enriches the wealthy, while today, in the current marketplace, you are lucky if you can find a job. And if you cannot, some smug Repugnican says you are lazy and really just don't want to work.

This is bigotry in action my friends. These are the same bigoted epithets once used against African-Americans, still hurled at Latinos, and now hung about your necks. Today, the bigotry is against everyone who is not among the wealthiest or who does not, will not or cannot conform to social norms, as well as anyone and everyone who is willing to stand up and complain about the current situation. Yes, those who Nietzsche called idolaters, and seekers of wealth and power are the one's who mold the opinions of the sheep, who are then taught to direct their bigoted epithets at you for them.

The wealthy want all the money and all the property. They want you to keep doing their bidding. And if you cease to be of use to them, they don't want you to be around. They don't want to educate you, because you might wake up and see what is going on. Without education, you will not want anything more for yourself, and you will not question their pre-eminence. When you reach your mid-forties to early fifties, you are undesirable as a worker because your most productive years, your most malleable years, and your cheapest years are all behind you. If you are old or infirm, you are useless, so you may be discarded. They do not want to pay for you to be made well again, there is no profit in that for them. They do not want to pay to ease your health concerns when you are old and they have used you up, there is no profit in the for them. They do not want you to have a Social Security pension, there is no profit in that for them, either.

The state will not protect you, it is owned by those idolaters. They pay for politicians' campaigns, and advertising. They keep the elected in their pockets with perks from lobbyists. The state is here, not to serve you, but to serve the wealthy, that is why the wealthy are not asked to pay taxes. The wars that the state fights in the name of some platitude are really only fought to advance some economic advantage craved by the wealthiest within the state whose money buys the politicians, the judges, and the newscasters. The wealthy own the media, and then they create the myth of a left-wing media bias, but only to convince you to shut your mind, stop thinking for yourself, avoid listening to anything contrary to their official point of view, and buy into their programs, their wars, and the favored status for the wealthy in the courts and tax codes.

They placate you with gadgets. They give you Play Stations, and iPods, and iPads, and Social Networking, and cell phones with digital cameras that are also mp3 players that also offer a constant stream of apps, and hundreds of channels on television, and designer clothing. Then, they charge you exorbitant prices for these items, and plan them to be obsolete in 2 or 3 years so you'll buy the products all over again. Most of these items are made of plastic, so when one becomes obsolete, it will sit in a dump for thousands of years since it won't biodegrade. And all this plastic is made from petroleum. Every product is shipped across the world to local marketplaces, and that shipping uses more petroleum.

To assure an endless supply of petroleum, these multinational corporations demand states go to war in the Middle and Near East. So your sons die, not to free people from oppression, but to further enrich the already wealthy by securing the oil needed for the companies to make their products and ship them to you.

Meanwhile, the state tells you it is your use of the automobile that destroys the climate. No one can legitimately argue that individuals using the combustion engine do contribute to climate change. But the greatest damage to our climate through petroleum use arises from military engagement in wars, the shipping of products around the world, air travel, and industry as it makes the useless toys and products that sap future generations of natural resources and which brainwash you into thinking this is such a marvelous life which it is anything but. The state takes special care not to regulate those uses of petroleum, only yours.

And yet, you have come to believe, you have no way out. Your children must have the latest gadgets, latest clothing, most desirable designer labels, and hippest new games if they are to be popular at school, have the right friends, and properly be indoctrinated into conformity. You have to pay for the petroleum which heats your home and your bath water, and which powers your automobile. You must put food on the table and shelter your family. You must provide abundant Christmases and the funds for an endless stream of mind-numbing entertainment - movies, restaurants, vacations, and parties, not to mention whatever your drugs of choice may be, including alcohol.

To further numb your mind, your culture creates stars out of the most attractive people. You become obsessed with them because the media tells you to be and bombards you with their pictures, their movies and TV shows, advertising with them as spokespeople, magazine articles, gossip shows on television, and on and on. So, you give yourself over to fascination with them and join in the cult dedicated to celebrity worship.

To buy all these products, provide a comfortable life for your family, and enrapture yourself with the fascination of shiny toys and beautiful celebrities, you must sell your life, hour by hour, week by week, and still you must go into debt. You must also live with stress, and a constant fear that if you lose your job, you could lose everything. So, you shut your mouth, take whatever shit your employer decides to shove up your ass, and you go to work everyday, for the rest of your life. In so doing, you have so few hours left over to spend with your loved ones that you forget what love is, lose your connection to them, and end up divorced or find your kids arrested or overdosed. Why? So you can keep paying the interest on the debt you have accumulated. And then, you will die far too young because of the accumulation of stress and the toxic conditions corporations have wrecked upon the environment.

This is not freedom, my friends. This is a form of slavery, indentured servitude, which you cannot opt out of. This is the future for as long as can be imagined.

Is this the life you want to give your children? Is this the world you want to endow upon future generations? Is consuming, amassing debt, selling the hours of your life, and creating piles of non-biodegradable refuse while you idolize beautiful celebrities the future you would choose for yourself if you had a choice? Is this servitude to the marketplace really fulfilling enough to bequeath to all future generations?

Or -

Are you brave enough to be an individual, think for yourself, take your balls out of your bosses' wallets, and demand a better world?

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