Liberalism Delenda Est: On the 2016 Election and the farce called “democracy,” or why the Podesta e-mails indicate something darker than you think


The above image is shocking to many people. How could there be so clear race and sex divides in the body politic? It must be the moral degeneration of white men, right? Why do they revel in fear and hatred so much? Is it merely the decline of their overall cultural power?  Is there a moral degeneration going on with power who do not recognize their privilege?

These are the questions I see asked when people just aren’t mocking the subject. Why are white men so reactionary? Is it their success in the past slipping away ? Is it fear of a brown America? Why are why men such a plague to the body politic?

There are a number of bad faith assumptions in those questions, and also a few assertions hidden in plain view in those questions which are not wrong. There are numerous editorials about this, some shaming the white working class for their bad faith, but also pointing out that the white working class have experienced real declines in outcomes in the past ten years–its not just their relative social power slipping, their lives are shortening and they are increasingly out of work.   Yet also the polling shows that white (mostly male) voters are in favor Trump but they are middle and upper middle class, politically engaged, and college educated, although slightly less highly than the Democratic counterparts.   A conclusion one can make from this desperate facts  is that similar to working class black men, although for different reasons, the white working class is not politically engaged and does not generally vote.

So how does one explain this? What do we make the above post by Nate Silver’s pollster-number crunchers on this one.  I find this fascinating, and I find it more fascinating that the general liberal reaction to this is that white men are a plague in most the country without trying to seriously figure out why it had gone this way. After all, white men were the primary theoreticians of liberalism as it currently exists too given the structure politics prior to the 1970s–its racial exclusivity still effective and the dominant halls of power being predominately WASP then Jewish, Catholic, and WASP but still white.  Although the definition of white expanded significantly by the 1970s too, and this also changed the nature of the complaint at hand.  The effect of these changes and the beginnings of the Nixon strategy in the South need to be addressed more completely for what it has done to the liberal political strategy as much as the nearly obsessive pointing out the obvious in regards to the Republican strategy. This needs serious thought for liberal thinkers, not merely shaming and virtue signaling, which of the people who have posted this, only one friend did not do.

Furthermore, the Podesta emails are damning for both sides and directly related to this. Trump can’t say “look Clinton so corrupt she empowered me?”  They also illustrate the problems of Bernie Sanders copitulation is factored in indicate that part of this has been strategically encouraged by the elite end of Democrats.   Some key things that the Podesta e-mails showed us:  casting Bernie as old white man and the “Progressive” left as low-key white racists asking for a handout was preplanned strategy.   Furthermore, so Podesta indicates that the Trump and Carson were favored by Democrats, and it was part of their strategy to get those candidates more attention.   Why? Why are so many of you complaining about my cynicism when the response to Podesta emails is generally “that’s just politics.” So you don’t see so sinister here beyond a personalities.

Again, this is not “a Clinton is corrupt and evil” line of thinking. Increasing amounts of the public are depoliticized, they have little incentive to vote and little practical incentive to care enough to keep up with key issues.   The Nixon strategy seems to be functionally embraced by Democrats themselves as way of tying identity to a specific electorate and keeping virtue-signaling in their favor.  The Republicans rely on this too because it means, while they are disfavored in national elections, the structure of the state electoral maps rural/urban divide and the sortition allows them to maintain power in a majority of states and run the politics out most non-urban areas, even in blue states.

So some better questions are:  Until the 1970s, white men even the South and mid-west supported populist progressives. Why did that stop?  Even some dyed-in-wool racists I knew in Georgia growing up over the age of 1950 had pictures of Roosevelt in their house.  Indeed, my grandmother became a conservative Republican on racially progressive grounds in the 1950s, and while she complained about Goldwater’s misstep on the civil rights act and about Nixon’s treachery, she never abandoned the GOP as a good Catholic matriarch with a mixed race family of that has Koreans, Jews, Protestants, and black members by marriages against the norms of Southern society.  So this has been in the back of my mind:  I have almost vestigial memory the pre-Nixon, pre-“neo-liberal” sorting of America because the politics of the South did not fit the politics on television.  This is also true for the mid-west, which now hosts more Klan than the South but also gave us sewer socialism.

All that seems unexplainable now.   The Nixon strategy itself is managerial tactic used across the board by both of the major US parties. The key players of power do not deny the contents of these e-mails, but try to “wag the dog” on the relationship to Russia in exposing these.  Look up Podesta and Trump, and you will not get the Wikileaks e-mail, but Podesta accusing Trump of colluding with foreign governments to undermine democracy.   Which may or may not be true, but Podesta colluded in the DNC to make Trump a viable candidate, and conditions on the ground where supportive because deleterious effects on several demographic groups in the so-called “recovery.”   This is kind of transparent cynical use of geo-politics that liberals saw against the Bush administration, but “progressives” are feeling powerless and afraid of the true crassness of Trump, his supposed extremity (Democrats have embraced most of his policies at earlier times, including stop and frisk, the wall, etc), and his legit support from an enlarged group with deep ties to racial nationalists.

The morbid joke arises that in four years it may look like this: “Sure, Clinton started a nuclear war with Russia and we lost New York, but do you want David Duke to win and open up the camps.”  And what would the outcome of that devil’s bargain eventually be?

Why do so many people continue to play the role assigned to them? I don’t have answers for this but I can tell you that it implies that the farce you mistake as a democracy gets less democratic anyway by the cycle, and that in this, partly because the tribal alliances in face of stress, people are becoming easier and easier to manage through the fragmentation of social media and regional sorting.


There are a few darker implications that run into the structure of a Republic based on representative democracy whether parliamentary or congressional.  The predominance of management to handle an increasingly fragmented and complex society will increase in democracy and while their policies will effect more or more of daily life as they control the executive and judicial branches beyond the presidency, they will be effectively a class that is anti-political.  Anti-political in the sense that is anti-deliberative and anti-representative.  Moneyed powers will have increased say. One of the darker elements of the Podesta e-mails was not about the Clintons, but about Obama’s cabinet.  I will just quote the New Republic:

This is a fight over who dominates the Democratic Party’s policy thinking in the short and long term. In 2008 the fight was invisible and one-sided, and the fix was in. In 2016 both sides are angling to get Clinton to adopt their framework. Those predisposed to consider Clinton some neoliberal sap might not agree, but this is actually a live ball. Presidents lead coalitions, and they have to understand where their coalition is and how things change over time. Peter Orszag this week suggested a trade-off: Give the Warren wing its choices on personnel, in exchange for more leeway to negotiate an infrastructure package with Republicans that gives big tax breaks to corporations with money stashed overseas. While that deal needs more detail, it reveals the power the Warren wing has, relative to the Obama era, to make significant strides on appointments.

To say that movement of liberal polity is itself illiberal and that democracies are increasingly anti-Democratic to the point of being farcical sounds both contradictory and maddening. To say that DNC really is deliberately playing with racial fire as a managerial strategy sounds conspiratorial. In some sense, it is, although I think all this was hiding in plain sight and is a logical extension of regional trends.   After all, we have known members of the Black Congressional Caucus to play with conservative politicians in the South to keep “progressive” influence smaller but their majority black contingency intact. In fact, this isn’t even necessarily malicious if one believes that one is serving a particular community that would be under-represented in “progressive” polity otherwise. It is a logical and not entirely intended consequence of the structure of the system.  It self-reinforces and becomes dark.   Given the demographic trends of the country, the decline of the US Protestant identity, the fiscal liberalization of politics, and the increased role of capitalist elites in both parties financing, this is almost inevitable and requires no deliberate conspiracy.

How can we explain the media’s bias?  Their increased pushing wikileaks as a Russian conspiracy–again, does anyone remember the Bush years?–and the predominant role in supporting Clinton as well as giving Trump much of his campaign advertising for free? Access is the media’s bread and butter, and they can’t get it without willing partners on the political side.  So what they have access too are increasingly prepared statements, especially considering that lower profit margins in news media means that no one can afford to fund investigative journalism anyway.  So re-running talking points of dominant politicians at least gives one something increasing to print that will get spread on social media because it plays to people’s confirmation biases anyway.

Is Trump a Clinton creation?  No. But again, people increasingly play their role.  A role that even the alt-right and far leftists seem to be factored into.  Occupy becomes a staging hashtag for Democratic pro-party activism.  BLM increasingly is moved from the streets into college campuses.   Alt-right becomes increasingly Milo and crew, and not related to the explicitly racial nationalists who created the moniker ten years ago. Paleo-conservatism is made relevant to millennials by anti-SJW rants on youtube, but also loses its content, and its history.  Sargon of Akkad has not read James Burnham or probably even Pat Buchanan.  In fact, the darkest implication in all this is this one seeming fact: Most of your rebellions are not only factored in to political and social management, their strategies are founded on the predictability of the patterns of it.

Book Review The Reckless Mind by Mark Lilla (NYRB Press, re-issue 2015)

Originally released a few days before September 11, 2001, Mark Lilla’s
The Reckless Mind was re-released by NYRB roughly corresponding with
his new book of essays on reactionary political thinking, The
Shipwrecked Mind.   In the intervening years, these essays feel both
more and less relevant: Foucault has lasted, but the problems of his
politics have been explored more completely by the left and the right.
Revelations about Heidegger have been made deeper and more notedly
“problematic” with the translation of the black notebooks. Derrida,
the only living figure in the book when it was released, has passed
and his relevance to critical theory waned incredibly quickly.  Yet
the essays in this collection on Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, Walter
Benjamin, Kojève, Foucault, and Derrida are still readable and

There are, however, some puzzling indictments in this book. Lilla’s
essay on the relationship between Karl Jaspers, Hannah Arendt, and
Heidegger is clear-eyed in its assignment of Heidegger’s politics, but
Heidegger is not the intellectual about the which the essay concerns
itself.  Are Jaspers and Arendt also guilty of political recklessness?
Lilla, despite the very clear-eyed focus of the essay, does not say.
Walter Benjamin’s exact offense seems unknown as if Lilla thinks that
flirting with Marxism was in and of itself reckless even when
distancing from Soviet and Maoist forms.  Is it that Benjamin was
reckless in his combining messianism and recursion to Frankfurt
Marxism?   It hardly had political effect and Benjamin never made
apologetics for regimes in the way that Schmitt, Heidegger or Foucault
had done.    Furthermore, while some of the digs at Derrida are
apt—particularly Derrida’s highly symbolic and affective reading of
Marx—again it is hard to see what the consequences are to these
politics.  Derrida’s deconstruction seems muddled, but not reckless.
It is, now, however, largely irrelevant.

Again one suspects notices that these were essays for Times Literary
Supplement and the New York Review of books, and are excellent
profiles, but the essays connecting the key figures do not
thematically relate the figures enough.  Lilla’s final essay about
Syracuse and the nature of tyrannical philosophers is excellent, but
he does not really lay out priorly exactly what was tyrannical about
Benjamin.  HIs treatment of Kojeve was interesting and clarifying, but
the exact nature of the Strauss and Kojeve exchanges needed more
development as well. Furthermore, Kojeve’s correspondence has been
collected in On Authority giving a more complete view of the
exchange than when only Strauss’s On Tyranny was translated.

In short, this is an insightful but highly frustrating book.  Lilla
seems more annoyed with the left than the right, even if he thinks the
right’s sins are greater. He does not make the digs at Schmitt or even
Heidegger that he does Foucault and Derrida.  Lilla’s thematic unity
is merely interest in alternative and possibly totalitarian
worldviews, but any more coherent and cogent theme is resisted beyond

Review The Shipwrecked Mind by Mark Lilla (NYRB Press, 2016)

While some will read this as a ‘history of reaction,’ this insightful and easily digested volume of essays is more like several essays on the subject. Generally, following a format related to book views and discussions in the history of ideas, collected around the central theme. I was little surprised to find that Lilla had published most of the chapters in New York Review of Books. While this is a limiting factor to the book, it does not make it un-insightful or particularly dross, or even repetitive as like some similar books. In fact, the obvious comparison is to Corey Robins The Reactionary Mind, which while also being largely a series of essays as review, had a more coherent thesis but was far more repetitive in its assertion and conflated conservatism with reactionarism. Still as Lilla points out, the reactionary impulse may be more dominant in political thinking these days even on the left, but far more ink as been spilt on the revolution mind. Indeed, even I can only think of Berlin and Robins as clear precursors to Lilla’s focus here.

Lilla starts with an assertion going back to DeMaistre, the reactionary is NOT a conservative. The reactionary is a utopian of nostalgia as opposed to the utopian of progress. While this is not actually the clearest of definitions, Lilla is able to use it trace a variety of kinds of thought which rhyme in function and affect. Lilla starts the book with careful and highly sympathetic studies of Rosenzweig, Voegelin, and Leo Strauss. Indeed, in the case of the latter two men, Lilla goes to pains to disentangle them from the use of their work. Lilla, like Isaiah Berlin who influenced him, can’t help but admire something of the vitality of counter-Enlightenment thought and may almost be too sympathetic to his case studies for many of his political allies. He is far fairer to Voegelin and Strauss than to Alain Badiou in the later chapters.

It is the series of essay in the second half of the book that are both the interesting but also the most frustrating. Lilla seems limited by the magazine form that chapters were originally published in, but almost all the arguments need to linger. Lilla’s thesis on the reactionary impulse to the “road not taken”–generally in some relationship to the Enlightenment although sometimes against the entirety of post-Socratic European history–is fascinating and seems apt, but he does not fully develop it.

Lilla’s assertion that “epochal thinking is magical thinking” is fascinating and feels true, but he doesn’t give enough examples nor does he explicitly call back the three case study thinkers in the beginning of the book which could be used to justify the claim. Lilla is erudite, and more or less expects his reader to be as well. Yet book that makes fairly strong demands on readers, its magazine style does have the benefit of being immediately accessible in style and a joy to read. This is particularly true in the essay on Michel Houellebecq and the two opposed currents of reactionary thinking in France. Indeed, Lilla does not explore this enough, but often the reactionary impulses biggest enemy is based in a different reactionary impulse with an opposing nostalgia. Lilla is a subtle thinker and a strong writer, but one wishes he developed his thinking beyond collecting his reviews on the topic and writing some thematic essays to tie them together.

Despite these caveats, I strongly recommend the The Shipwrecked Mind.

Cairo Reflections 2.5: Attempting Normalcy Through Music

I am exhausted lately, although my job is going well and my writing poetry has hit a stride again after working through a piece of prose as art instead of polemic. Listening to music from the late 1990s and early Aughts, oddly, has helped me revisit some particular nostalgia debris and work out the various detritus.  Bands like Les Savvy Fav, Archers of Loaf, Red Red Meat, Jawbow, Burning Airlines, Ghost and Vodka, Califone: instead of a diet of sludge metal and jazz, I have been listening to the hardcore, post-punk, and post-hardcore bands of my teens and twenties.  Angular riffs, partially obscure lyrics, strange time signatures, overly bright treble, or in other cases, lyrics of distortion and reverb over blue rhythms. It reminds me that my first semi-professional writing was very sloppy album reviews for various scenes, including some of the first “e-zines” of the 1990s.

I must admit listening to this on the Nile seems anachronistic in the extreme, but trying to chase down particular artistic phantoms and psychological ghosts while my partner is away and the people who love me are, for the most part, on different parts of other continents, this has been a welcome diversion.

Lately, I have been spending me time with colleagues ranging in age from twenty-five to forty, some married, but almost none with children.  I have been drinking Egypt’s overly sweet desert wine and its thin beer in haze of shisha smoke from the local cafes or from friends’ hookahs, but only on the weekend and realizing the dangers of this being a lifestyle keeps me from supplementing being around the more intimate in my life with.  Still, it has been relaxing.  Conversations and games of Phase 10 or poker, talk of other people’s trips to Italy or Doha, the normal soap-box rants of former teachers in America and Canada.

The trickling of some sense of normalcy into the my life is welcome, and returning to jangling music of my youth has led to some intense memories of the 1990s and aughts and poems come out of my actual youthful indiscretion instead my approaching middle age pretense to it in a course of transition and tragedy.

Yet the tricks have limits:  My partner is fighting with insurance, who seem to do anything to avoid paying for a cancer, and battling cancer at the same time.  My rage, something I had more of as a young man, has come back.  This jangle and growl seems more appropriate to the heart of the situation.  I do push-ups more and more to get off excess energy. I write more poems.  I listened to bands like Fucked Up, Helmet, and Orange 9mm.  The harder truths here are that I am not going to get hard enough for this not to affect me.  Music is a barrier, a way to but indulge and safely file away the emotions.

This Blog Returns as well as podcasts… obviously

Dear Gentle Readers:

In the past two weeks, I have revived this otherwise defunct blog as my primary writing outlet. I may one day write for Zero Books blog as well, and I am certainly podcasting for them behind the membership wall.

Symptomatic Redness, the podcast I co-host, has been in the doldrums for a year or so.  My producer’s family and my own had run-ins with cancer but life is normalizing and production should return soon.

Former People should be returning from a five month hiatus on the blog and the literary magazine is returning to roughly bi-monthly updates.

I would also like to think Very Bad Wizards for linking to my write up of on Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Two lessons were learned from that, proof before publishing and attacking celebrities gets you a ton of hits even if your point is utterly missed.

Expect weekly to bi-weekly posts.


Revisiting “The Ruling Class”


My love semi-obscure British cinema from the 1970s is generally encapsulated by films like Ken Russell’s The Devils or Anthony Shaffer and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man. The Ruling Class, a film directed by Peter Medak based on a play by Peter Barnes, is neither quite as transgressive as either movie but probably as oft misread as just something to shock.   Still, despite Peter O’Toole’s living performance, the flatness of the scenery, the theatricality of its staging, and the shift tonal oddity of parts of the movie, The Ruling Class may be the bleaker of the three films.

The premise is simple enough: a minor noble house in England has a equally minor succession crisis which results on the original Earl’s estranged son being foisted into the position of head of the family despite his paranoia schizophrenia.  Jack, or as he prefers to be called in the beginning, J.C.  views himself as a God of love and dresses in a late 60s white suit and wears dime-store Jesus make-up and hair.  After his uncle uses his delusions to get him to marry his Uncle’s own former mistress and produce an heir,  his psychiatrist, Dr. Herder, tries to cure him quickly, putting him into contact with the electric messiah, another paranoid schizophrenic who believes himself to be much more akin to the Yahweh of the Old Testament. The purpose to force “reality” into one of the patients minds since they can’t both be God, but J.C./Jack experiences the bolts and internalizes a different message.  Even the obsession with an electricity may be an illusion here given that Canaanites seemed to have viewed Yahweh originally as some kind of volcano or thunder God. Jack breaks with his view of himself as a God of love, and sees himself as different God.  This one mirroring what he sees as virtues of the ruling class itself, Jack imagines himself Jack the Ripper, and become a rousing success in the house of lords while offing or breaking the mind of his family members.

The allegory seems heavy-handed as a analogy of sociopathy of England’s elite, and it is, but there are small scenes and characters with large complications to that analogy.  The Butler  Tuck, Jack frames for his first murder, is a Bolshevik who himself is dancingly happy with Jack’s first kill declaring his happiness that another one of them is dead, but the Butler is also enabling a very reactionary force when doing so and legitimizing his own imprisonment later. He also is made well-off himself by a gift from his former employer, the late Earl, and thus while his resentment is real, his Bolshevik inclinations are both passive and hypocritical.  This, ironically, is happening while Jack’s uncle misreads him as “not just nuts but Bolshie” in his “God of Love” stage.

Indeed, Jack’s transformation is a flower-power Jesus to a lordly sociopath is often read as representing the ruling class’s sociopathy and their inclinations towards religious fanaticism.  This is probably all true, but the film has other points here as well. Jack’s earlier romanticism as J.C. was more liberally-inclined but portrayed not only as paranoid but a kin of paranoid that came from profound self-importance.  Jack’s flower-power love, despite its radicalism, is also a form of egoistical narcissism.  Indeed, while the working class “bolshie” is literally a house servant who accidentally encourages his employer to kill himself in a fit of auto-erotic asphyxiation in a tutu, it is strongly implied that his Marxism came later, partly because he seemed sincerely concerned when his employer died. The implications of that is interesting as well but I am not sure they are entirely intended by the film-makers or the author.  Both seem to have revolutionary world views only in so much that they don’t really matter or actually effect anything.

Another element of the film is the monologue of the 13th Earl, who, after telling a delusional but completely conventional speech about the glories of empire to the Society of St. George, hangs himself and gives a speech about being forced into law as opposed to being an artist.  His own ramblings and pretensions towards civility manifesting in exhausted self-hatred.  The similarities between the 13th and the 14th is that while both are eloquent and both play to the worse pretensions of empire, the 13th may have been more humane the entire time.

So while the obvious analogy about the ending of the 1960s and the affectations of the ruling class abound, it is smaller characters and their implications that actually make this a great story that hits deeper than just an normal indiction of privilege.  Barnes play seems to indicate that little has changed during the swinging 60s, and Victorian and Edwardian romps aside, most of what is left is ugliness of the entire Imperium.  Medak is a refugee from Hungry and while he may see the rot at the core of the ruling classes, he is also illustrating the rot at the core of them play-acting at liberalism and socialism.

It’s not that Jack the Ripper is Jack’s true form either: it’s the form England rewards him for. One of the more interesting implications of the society, Jack the ripper is Jack’s vision of the God people need and definitely what they respond to.   The two church women scandalized by the sexual implications of J.C./Jack asking them about love as rallied on my his song and dance (literally) about breaking people on the rack.  Jack sees all the lords as dead meat, and even seems to invert the originally feinted affection that Lady Grace felt.  Grace’s love for him growing more and more sincere as he normalizes, a love that literally kills her unceremoniously in one the most profoundly strangely toned ending sequences in cinema.

The defining trait of Jack is not his love or malice, but his sheer blankness and projection of self-importance.  It reflects a society that he sees–quite literally in paranoid visions in his House of Lords scene–as dead.  The movie is not without difficulties: O’Toole’s drinking during this film was legendary and seemed to lead to sporadic performances that had a vaudeville flare–generally to the film’s benefit, but the abrupt tonal shifts may be due to those performance as well.  Female characters do not have really developed motivations beyond witty banter and moving the plot. The theatrical nature of the shooting makes the film look like it is from an era much earlier than 1972. The pacing, particularly in the beginning, is languid.   That said, the dialogue and myriad of allegories for post-1968 politics left and right implied in the film make this one of my favorite movies.



This is why you should save drafts: or Cairo Reflections Two, the Lost Tapes

I was writing Cairo Reflections Two: Jaywalking with Nietzsche.  This contained pages and pages of digressions on archery, Cairo traffic, Eid Al-Adha, why I stopped hunting in my early 20s,  Nietzsche, and the death of the God.  My computer crashed and I lost all but a fragment.  I will share the fragments I had written in notes for it, although the original writing was about 4000 words longer than this:

Listening to Stephen West’s podcast, Philosophize This!, while I was dodging a white 1980s-model  Fiat Taxi,  I saw a sheep face being eaten by a couple of street dogs.  The sheep face was left over the Halal slaughter for Eid-al-adha and women carefully avoided it by walking in the road.  Three women in black polyester naqab carrying some items on their heads, and I wanted a diet Pepsi, chief among my vices, so I avoided it and head to the one souq that was nearby and open despite the holiday.  The way Cairo causes you to change risk calculation and to live in concern with different things is fascinating.   Most foreigners are turned off by the remains of the ritual slaughter of lamb sacrifices for Eid.

My ajahn, a Theravada Buddhist teacher who immigrated from Sri Lanka to Georgia I used to talk to in my early 20s, said this was a good a thing.  That killing the animal did more damage than just eating it. That the intention of killing had karmic and psychological effects, but I don’t know if I buy that. I quit eating as much the first time I field dressed a deer–the third white tail I ever killed–and after I did it, I didn’t not want to bow hunt anymore. Indeed, Egyptians eat a lot less meat than Americans–mostly pigeons, chicken, and sometimes beef but not as often–and their diet is mostly rice, fava beans, eggplants, pasta, bread, chopped salad, lentils and cheese.

Regardless, it always struck me that both attitudes, one that was okay with watching a ram bleed out, and one that just mindlessly eat a burger but was disgusted at the “barbarism” of a sheep face left for dogs could be equally careless.  Furthermore, both could fall into a secular “other worldism” that was not so much revolutionary or transformative as escapist.   This brings me back to West’s podcast on Nietzsche.

West focuses on the full context of the Nietzsche’s quote:

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

— Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr. Walter Kaufmann

A serious reader will notice this is not just a statement of atheism. In fact, for the atheist, God isn’t dead, God never was. The transhistorical nature of that claim can’t be squared with Nietzsche’s point here. Secularization is the main metaphor and secularization is irreversible because the nature of the categories has changed.  God here is a social and psychological way of dealing with meaning, and as West puts it, that technology for reifying values seems to be more and more impossible beyond just the individual’s faith.

Even if one is a Christian or Muslim, one should take secularization seriously. Indeed, thinking in terms of the secular/religious instead of sacred/profane, indicates a shift in the social world view.  No matter if one believes in the ontological existence of God, the social being around that fact has changed, has been seemingly forever secularized as the spheres in which religious life is generally seen as most relevant seems to fade. So when Nietzsche declares “God is dead, and remains dead, and we have killed him.”  It is not nearly just atheism that is at stake. In is in no small insight that Nietzsche has found God dead in the market place when he speaks about this in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Indeed, in the posits of “other worlds” that deny our own world, Nietzsche seems to have no problem putting both the capitalist and the socialist as flies in the festering wound on the corpse of God in society.

Now, Nietzsche was both profoundly anti-Christian, but his insights in the secularization of even the highly religious-professing society should not be lost on anyone.  Indeed, this is why Pope John-Paul the Second considered him a necessary figure to deal with for any serious faith.

What does Nietzsche had to do with Eid?  Why, other than arbitrary listening of a podcast does this seem relevant to me? Is that Nietzsche himself collapsed trying to stop the beating of a horse?  Is that in risk taking, I better myself?

The answer is that even a highly religious society like Egypt has tensions around secularization deeper than just lingering remains of Ottoman jurisprudence or Nasr’s pan-arab attempt undo Islamist identity. It is that even in this world, we are still seeing this as a clash between one world system and another, and in Egypt the problem seems more obvious and more deeply felt. It causes questions to bubble up that I don’t have an answer for…

(That is all I have of the original reflect and I don’t feel like recreating the rest of it from memory).