Nietzsche, in rejecting Christianity, a “slaves religion’ as “the idea of a God who gives us values, changeless and transcendent” left himself open to the charge of nihilism. To counter this charge, with a “God substitute” he posited the idea of a superman. This is of course not a physical superman, although Nietzsche’s ideal man can possess superior physical properties. Rather it is a real, superior person who, by relying on his intuitive sense of right and wrong rises above the herd. “The superman therefore is the ideal of someone who has mastered the practice of overcoming himself.”
That is, the superman views the world and its values as is in a state of flux. Recognizing the need to improve on outdated concepts, including his own, or to be left behind by a superior individual, he reinvents himself by casting off old values and building new ones.
The values of this Nietzschean superman, having rejected the Christian God, naturally include as virtues lustful sex, selfishness, the will to power, and, rejecting an afterlife, total immersion in getting as much as possible out this one and only life. Thus for Nietzsche and his superman, for society to reach its fullest potential a new system of values, based on a Godless culture, with the superior individual governed only by his innate sense of morality, is required.
In our day Sarah Palin is also presenting and in fact embodying a new, or rather revised, set of values, which stand in the starkest possible contrast to the Nietzschean system. By contrasting, which is the point of this article, Palin’s Christian humility with Nietzsche’s superman, her prescription for America’s future become very clear. It is a future based on the values of love and submission to the will of a loving God, and the contrast brings it into the starkest light, where it shines all the better for the exposure.
Palin’s God is changeless and transcendent. Instead of relying on her intuitive compass, she relies on a moral compass whose north point is indicated by Christian values. Nietzsche describes the Christian view as holding to a concept of an inherently evil world. To live in the world and adhere to its values is to be opposed to God’s will (God being perfect) thus only an ascetic, world rejecting attitude, can bring a Christian salvation and the rewards of an afterlife.
This view of Christianity, with its concordant sense of guilt at the failure to be ascetic enough, brings a sense of failure. The suppression, as Paglia would have it, of the Dionysian, leads to an individual, in fact a population, that is “sickly and weak.” No wonder a Nietzschean superman is needed to manage the herd in this faith based nightmare world.
This view of Christianity has next to nothing to do with actual Christianity, and most certainly Sarah Palin’s faith. The man Jesus was certainly of this world, as Christians are expected to be. The supposed sense of guilt at not meeting God’s expectations is assuaged by the indisputable fact that “all have sinned and fallen short.” the remedy is of course the life affirming belief of redemption by faith.
For those who take that path “springs of living water will flow from them” by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. If there ever was a prescription for joy, health, vigor, optimism and a full life the Christian faith is it. Sarah Palin, in her own person is the absolute antithesis of the “pale and sickly” Christian visage which Nietzsche wrongly ascribes to believers.
The superman is supposed to be guided by the premise there there is nothing in this world which is permanent. In contrast to this false concept, Palin’s God, through Jesus incarnate, inculcates a transcendent permanence “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words will remain forever.” Nietzsche’s rejection of Christianity opens the path to all the various forms of socialism, to dictators who view themselves as embodying “the will of the masses.”
The Christian God that Palin follows brings the direct opposite to Nietzschean selfishness. 2012 may bring the opportunity to finally cast aside the negativity which has permeated American life for the last decade and usher in a new age of Christian renewal.
M. Joseph Sheppard