Nietzsche felt that most people were not worthy to live, just happened to be alive, and would be better off dead.. The Nazis took that idea up with great literalness. 30,000,000 corpses later, they had made their point.
Darling little Nazi lover and fan of the Übermensch Leni Riefenstahl climbed all over the mountains, making films about the German Volk and the Nuremberg rallies and other forms of greatness while the world looked on and applauded. This, of course, was a misunderstanding on her (and their) part, because Nietzsche felt that the great were so great that no audience was necessary for their greatness, although in the natural course of things the great would attract followers. The Randians felt that the superior, id driven individual would have lots of money and sex and power as a by-product of his absolute wonderfulness.
More to come (if you can stand it), as I wend my way along with Zarathustra and the mouth breathers. They don't get much of a break, as Z. talks and talks and explosively proclaims his way through the countryside while the yokels gape. It's kind of a one sided discourse, if you can talk of a discourse as being one sided!
Some claim they find both subtlety and depth in Nietzsche’s’ writings. I don’t agree. Nor do I agree that Nietzsche was much of an abstract thinker. He was trying to sound biblical and mythical, rather. He took the grand philosophical tradition of the west and warped it into the shape that suited his megalomania.
His idea, such as it was, was to postulate a new tribe of overmen to replace good old tribalism as practiced among unspoiled peoples in the good old days when we all lived in nature and were natural men, running around and fighting each other for territory. (Women, of course did not count, being incapable of nobility, friendship, carnage, and so on.) The familiar tropes of naturalness: man good, especially warriors, woman bad unless breeding little Übermensch babies, city bad, country good, and so on, were the ludicrous conclusions that his notions led to in those even more simpleminded than he.
The single most dangerous idea that was his legacy was of male camaraderie in a militant tribe. The Nazi intellectuals just loved all that stuff. Most of them were four eyed wimps, as was Nietzsche. They failed big. Have you seen that picture of Hitler visiting his sister, the one who took care of Nietzsche as he raved his life away in the throes of tertiary syphilis? And of course Nietzsche and his family were always putting themselves on a pedestal. Appointing herself guardian of the great man and his works, Elizabeth Nietzsche was an uptight German B. female of the worst stripe. She and her husband had tried to make a go of it in Paraguay but had to return. There is a pic somewhere of them trying to be very German in the middle of some godforsaken place. They were flops.
Later, the whole country of Germany fell on its face, and Nietzsche was their guru. And his devoted followers, Randians like Greenspan and that lot have put America on the ropes. And they are big pantywaists, too. You should hear all those types whining about how they need to be rescued by us Untermenschen, as they twitch around in the last stages of their disease. After all the trouble they caused, what a nerve.
Nietzsche ludicrously accuses people of the weakness of loving their neighbors, which is supposed to be an attack on Christianity. But I think he literally meant that it was too much trouble for Herr Übermensch to deal with weaklings. Apologists may say this is not to be taken literally, but I really don't believe he is saying something else from what he is saying and that I'm too stupid to see it. He really means it. He is quite literal, simple minded even.
Nietzsche’s protagonist Zarathustra lugs a corpse around for a while. I dreamed that I went to an ashram or retreat. Unlike my vision of a quiet place to contemplate and ruminate, it was full of party-hearty young people drinking, carrying on, and rocking out. A big heavy woman literally fastened herself to me and I had to lug her around because she had a bad leg. She yakked and yakked. I finally managed to get away from her, but I caught her looking at me from across a room of roistering youngsters and decided that I was wrong to ignore or avoid her. Well, of course, that women was me, or rather what the Germans call a Feindbild of me (Feindbild means your enemy’s image of you.)
So Nietzsche’s metaphors are powerful and do tap into primal material. But unlike him I am not willing to dump the weak and/ or helpless aspects of others OR of myself in order to reach some purported higher goal. I don’t feel that the Mensch in me or others is something to be overcome; it is rather to be embraced. It’s OK to be flawed. Perfection is for assholes. And this is what I see in all those people who fasten onto some grandiose vision of perfectibility in human life. Their followers would be wise to look to their ulterior motives, and their own.
Nietzsche, or shall we say his mouthpiece Zarathustra, could be dismissed if one wished solely on the basis of his attitude toward das Weib. Das Weib is old timey German for woman and is derogatory in modern usage, where it means “female” with a negative, dismissive connotation. Which means that whenever he talked about women he used a derogatory word to indicate that he felt women were kind of inferior and disgusting.
His take on marriage was rather, shall we say, unclear, and I’m not sure where he stood on it. A necessary evil, I guess, to breed the heroes of the new race of Übermenschen. But He felt that women undermined men by making them foolishly fall in love with them and many a hero is brought down by a silly woman (or goose, as he puts it) and so on. *
He blames Christianity for making the natural Volk like the Germans feel guilty and melancholy. Why? It was that Hebrew Jesus’ fault for dying on the cross and depressing everybody. What a downer. And just at Easter time too.
He was a pioneer in one area, though, in helping to develop ideas of the mind. You could say that his Übermensch is "es" driven (libido, id) and the bourgeois "ich" driven (ego).
So Nietzsche was instrumental in bringing forward and naming the elements of the psyche, especially the role of the Id, or "es," and the ego, or "ich," in an era when the unconscious was not at all understood, and that is probably his greatest contribution to philosophy. Freud built a lot of his theory of the mind on Nietzsche's work. For the rest of it, Nietzsche was the most pernicious philosopher that ever lived and a great embarrassment to Germans to this day. Much time and thought is wasted on his silly ideas and even sillier misinterpretations of them that could be better spent studying the Greeks and Kant. The fact is that too many intellectuals are lazy and distracted these days ( and often drunk or high ) to really dig into difficult texts, alas. They prefer Nietzsche’s short little snippets in translations which make him even more incoherent than he is in German.
* He could have been reacting to Lou Andreas Salome’s rejection of his offer of marriage. Salome was the first woman psychoanalyst.