23 May 2011

German Food

"The problem with German food is that, no matter how much you eat, an hour later you're hungry for power."

--Quoted in Cathcart and Klein, "Plato and the Platypus" - subtitled "Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes."

19th Century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche proposed a philosophical framework that was the polar opposite of the Golden Rule.  He famously proclaimed the death of God, and considered Christian morality out of date, an "unnatural ethic."  He felt that the Ubermensch, the exceptional individual, was above Christian herd morality and deserves to express his natural strength and superiority freely over the herd.  A good case can be made that this is a fundamental root of German militarism and 20,000,000 human deaths in the 20th Century.  And Sauerkraut.  Nietzsche presaged such sociopaths as Ayn Rand and Newt Gingrich, something a friend of mine calls "an attitude searching for a philosophy to justify itself."

Grotesque manifestations of this self-centered pathology have been popping up in the news lately: Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Arnold Schwartzenegger.  Notice where this philosophy has led them: from being the presumptive next President of France, DSK should (but probably won't) spend at least 15 years in a 6' x 8' cell, where his bathroom habits will be closely scrutinized to ensure that he doesn't commit suicide.  Something far worse is now engulfing the former Governator of California.  The media may note that his future as an actor is in tatters and that well more than half his personal wealth will no longer exist after the divorce attorneys field-dress this turkey.   However the real, long-term grief is this: he's lost his loving family, probably permanently.  He's lost any future happiness or sense of peace, barring long years of repentance, humility, and restitution.  He will have a sad and lonely twilight to his life.  Reminds me of the Psalm-writer.

A fundamental characteristic of this social pathology is that individuals who fall into its cess-pit all seem to believe that the rules apply to everyone but them.  The historical record proves that they are always, without exception, wrong.

By the way, Nietzsche is dead.  And he STILL has too many useless consonants.


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