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Nietzschean Christianity, or, an American Foreign-Policy Paradox

  • Résumé
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The Nietzchean diagnosis of the inversion of moral values hinges on the question of how Christianity defines good and evil. Nietzsche’s critique of morality relies on the premise that modernity, defined in opposition to the world of antiquity, inverts the original order of things by favoring the weak, promoting their interests at the expense of the strong or noble. In Nietzsche’s genealogical account, it was only by an inversion of values that Judaism, and in its wake Christianity, succeeded at creating the illusion that weakness is good, while strength is evil. Nietzsche’s genealogy therefore differentiates modernity negatively from a preferable a state of affairs that has now been lost. Yet the "conservative revolution" in the United States of the late 20th century seems to present this Nietzschean diagnosis with a new, retrospective difficulty. Namely, in the Reaganite economic theory that guides the dominant American political consensus at the beginning of the 21st century, and which seems certain to endure for the foreseeable future, the welfare state plays the same role Christianity plays within the Nietzschean genealogy of morals. That is, according to Reaganite economic theory, it is the welfare state, instead of Christianity, that is guilty of favoring the weak, thereby dampening the upsurge of primal forces associated with vigor and life.

The notion that Christianity is essentially dedicated to serving the interests of the weak against the strong is common both to Nietzsche, whose description of Christianity as a type of slave-revolt in morals is presented systematically in Zur Genealogie der Moral, and to contemporary liberal Christian theology. Yet a different "reading" of Christianity emerges in Nietzsche’s Der Wille zur Macht and Der Antichrist. There, the attempt to overturn creative life-affirming forms of vigor in favor of weakness is merely an excrescence that masks the hostility of Christianity’s founder to all forms of dogmatic authority, particularly of a priestly and religious nature. Ernst Benz’s Nietzsches Ideen zur Geschichte des Christentums und der Kirche (Leiden: Brill, 1956) presented this Nietzschean dichotomization of Christianity and its founder as similar in certain regards to liberal theology: "Nietzsche steht mit diesem Unterfangen historisch gesehen durchaus in einer Linie mit den liberalen Theologen seines Jahrhunderts... welche die Befreiung der Person Jesu von der kirchlichen Lehrtradition durch einen selbständigen Entwurf seiner geschichtlichen Persönlichkeit und seines Lebens in einem Leben Jesu versucht haben." (52). Thus, according to Benz, Nietzsche employs the term "Christianity" in two diametrically opposed senses, designating on one hand the teachings of its founder, and on the other hand, the complete reversal of those teachings by the traditions of the Church. This duality within the term "Christianity" extends to Nietzsche’s use of the term "Antichrist," as well: "Wie das Wort Christentum bei Nietzsche in einem zweifachen, völlig entgegengesetzten Sinn verwendet werden kann, so geschieht dies auch mit dem Wort ’Antichrist.’ Während er gewöhnlich unter dem Antichrist seinen eigenen Ruhmestitel, den Titel des Vernichters dieser entarteten christlichen Kirche versteht, so ist im Willen zur Macht der Begriff des Antichrist auch in dem alten Sinn des deutschen Spiritualismus... verwendet: Der Antichrist ist niemand anders als die christliche Kirche selbst, welche das ursprüngliche Christentum in sein Gegenteil verkehrt hat." (28). This suggests an odd, even paradoxical alignment between positive and negative valences of the terms "Christianity" and "Antichrist": Nietzsche-the-Antichrist would in fact be the advocate of true Christianity, while the Church-as-Antichrist would be the purveyor of false Christianity. This presents us with the apparent paradox of a Christian Nietzschean Antichrist, an arrangement that seems to present little interest for any attempt at coherent thought. But whatever the faults of Benz’s interpretation, with its reliance on two distinct and opposite meanings for the terms "Christian" and "Antichrist," the hypothesis at the core of Nietzsche’s analysis of the reversal at work in Christian tradition remains the same: Christianity promotes a slave-revolt which uses resentment and morality to impose the rule of the weak upon the strong.

Meanwhile, the core ideological proposition of the evangelical Christian movement in the contemporary United States is that the welfare state is the source of modern society’s decadence. The Reaganite political consensus is built on the opposition to the "welfare state" and its various forms of generosity to the economically weak: since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, in short, the attempt to help the weak at the expense of the strong has been held up as the prime example of what is wrong with modernity. This Reaganite genealogy of political morals enjoys the explicit and universal endorsement of fundamentalist Christians, who constitute by far the single largest and most politically influential religious group in the United States today. Given the sudden international dominance of the United States, this arrangement is something of a paradox. It would seem that Christian fundamentalism has accomplished what Nietzsche claimed could only be done by overthrowing Judeo-Christian morality. Another way of saying this would be to observe that since the mid-1950’s, Christianity in the United States has been split between fundamentalism and liberalism, and that Nietzsche’s critique of Christianity as a type of Sklaven-Moral would apply only the latter. Thus the matter of defining Christian morality engages us simultaneously in two problems: evaluating the accuracy of the descriptive, analytical moment at the heart of Nietzsche’s genealogical maneuver, and evaluating whether contemporary Christian fundamentalism represents a development or deviation of Christian tradition. If Nietzsche’s conception of Christianity is descriptively accurate, it would be legitimate for liberal Christian theologians to criticize the alliance between conservative economic doctrine and Christian fundamentalism. The other possibility we will speculatively examine in what follows is that Christian fundamentalism represents a complete refutation of what Nietzsche and liberal theology both identify as the core of Christian morality: protecting the weak against the strong. Strangely, this would also mean fundamentalism rescues Christianity from the Nietzschean critique by making Christianity more Nietzschean. Perhaps Ernst Benz’s attempt to subsume Nietzsche within Christian tradition was not entirely wrong, after all.

Claus Offe’s Selbstbetrachtung aus der Ferne: Tocqueville, Weber und Adorno in den Vereinigten Staaten (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2004) reveals one important reason that Weber, unlike Nietzsche, perceived no contraction between Christianity and the promotion of strength in the form of rationalistic, bureaucratic efficiency: Weber had seen the United States first-hand. In the contemporary United States, the coincidence of a fundamentalist Christian political movement with the rise to international dominance in political and economic affairs suggests that Weber’s analysis of Christianity was largely accurate. Nietzsche’s genealogical method is thereby discomfited in its most basic assumption, namely, that Christianity is essentially a form of slave-morality designed to promote the interests of history’s losers at the expense of the strong. For Weber, on the other hand, the United States exemplifies the extent to which the rational bureaucratic organization of modern man can realize the Protestant ideal of transforming the abstractions of religious faith into pragmatic, scientific, and economic accomplishments.

In light of contemporary history’s apparent refutation of the most basic analytical postulate at the heart of Nietzsche’s genealogy of modernity’s inversion of moral values, it is tempting to wonder whether errors of a similar type exist, as a result, further down the chain of Nietzsche’s unraveling of slave-morality. This is only one possibility, since even if Nietzsche’s genealogy is wrong in its initial analytical premise, it may remain valid in all other particulars. Even given the assumption that the modern United States offers the strange spectacle of Judeo-Christian morality in the service of predatory strength, the defining characteristic of modernity may nevertheless remain the inversion (Umkehrung) of morals Nietzsche describes. On the other hand, the initial misdiagnosis of Christianity’s role in the inversion of values may mean that a similar error appears elsewhere in the Nietzschean genealogy through repetition or as an element within certain deductions. If we are to discover any errors troubling the remainder of the Nietzschean description of the inversion that characterizes modernity, it will be in structural analogues of the original postulate. If we speculate that the United States today offers evidence contradicting the notion that Christian morals are those of the loser of history, it should follow that unresolved tensions stemming from this original assumption will reappear in other Nietzschean postulates. If we are willing to transgress Gilles Deleuze’s emphatic assurance that Nietzsche’s thought surpasses all forms of dialectic negation, and confront Nietzsche’s initial analytical assumption about Christianity with its dialectical opposite, or in other words with the idea that Christian morality is in fact the opposite of slave-morality, Nietzsche’s genealogical analysis may be persistently troubled with further dialectical negation. i The structural opposition at stake in Nietzsche’s original assumption is that Judeo-Christian morality cannot promote the predatory strength of nature, and must instead stand against the natural order of things by defending an otherworldly idealism: "die Elenden sind allein die Guten, die Armen, Ohnmächtigen, Niedrigen sind allein die Guten, die Leidenden, Entbehrenden, Kranken, Hässlichen sind auch die einzig Frommen, die einzig Gottseligen, für sie allein giebt es Seligkeit, - dagegen ihr, ihr Vornehmen und Gewaltigen, ihr seid in alle Ewigkeit die Bösen, die Grausamen, die Lüsternen, die Unersättlichen, die Gottlosen, ihr werdet auch ewig die Unseligen, Verfluchten und Verdammten sein!" (Zur Genealogie der Moral, 7). In Nietzsche’s account, the natural opposition between strength and weakness is repeated, in reversed form, by Judeo-Christian morality. ii This opposition would, however, be righted once more by the alliance between fundamentalist Christianity and predatory capitalism in the modern United States.

If we have arrived at a historical moment when the triumphant actor of world affairs is dominated by a political faction that explicitly espouses both fundamentalist Christianity and a free-market policy that eliminates the welfare state, it would appear that the source of the reversal of the natural opposition between the weak and the strong was not essentially Judeo-Christian. We are left with the problem of whether the source or cause of the reversal can be identified, and if so, what form it could possibly take. Indeed, if we simultaneously retain Nietzsche’s initial hypothesis and continue to see the combination of international dominance, anti-statist free-market capitalism, and fundamentalist Christianity in the modern United States as its dialectical opposite, it would seem that the inversion of strength and weakness occurs within a given source or subject of moral values. We can postulate a Christian subject in whom values are initially inverted and then, later, re-valued. Judeo-Christian religion would have adopted the inversion of morals only in order to discard it as a sort of ruse, in its moment of ultimate triumph. Nietzsche would in some sense merely be the unwitting prophet of an aggressive, predatory Judeo-Christian revaluation of values.

Thus, the figures in which Nietzsche’s initial analytical error produces flaws in the resulting genealogical account would be those in which the subject or cause of the inversion of moral values is in question. For Nietzsche, just as for Weber, modern subjectivity arises emblematically in the opposition between the integral human being, Ecce Homo, to the specialized, bureaucratic and scientific individual defined by the reduction of productive labor to mere technique. In Zur Genealogie der Moral, these modern, fragmented subjects are figured as "tamed" man-animals, Thiermenschen, yoked to their tasks in society by bad conscience. Bad conscience is the inverted form of animal desire and ferocity, so while the term "man-animals" describes the reduction of the whole human to a rationalized inhuman fragment, it simultaneously refers to the introversion of the fierce, natural, noble qualities Nietzsche qualifies as belonging to the category of the animal. iii The Moralität des Opfers demands that animal strength be harnessed to serve the interests of the weak, thus creating the inversion between man and animal in the figure of the Thiermensch. To restore the original order of things, according to Nietzsche’s account, would mean liberating the animal part of man that is noble and strong. Here we run aground on the shoals of a schizoid subjectivity, where the strong and the weak are no longer separable, and the parables of genealogical method fail to describe reality. iv

The Thiermensch is thus the figure that instantiates the inversion of moral values, but this instantiation simultaneously represents the incapacity to be whole, undermining subjectivity. Causation in the matter of the inversion of morals thus passes from the human subject to the instances of religion, history, and society. The problematic subjectivity of this quintessential figure of modernity’s inversion of moral values thereby repeats, as if in a puzzle, the structure of the initial analytical error. In the figure of the Thiermensch, the animal simultaneously represents the strong and the weak, and in this way would reproduce the initial analytical error of Nietzsche’s genealogy. Whether we speak of the cause, origin, or subject of the inversion of moral values, each is equally affected by the initial error that identifies Judeo-Christian morality as the source of the inversion, and as a result, the historical, religious, and social configurations of inverted values are cut loose from the propositional order of the genealogical method. In other words, what is thrown into doubt most concretely by the hypothesis that Nietzsche’s genealogical method suffers from an initial error is the notion that the original form of strength is natural and animal, while the rationalized creatures of modernity are avatars of what was originally unnatural and weak. In the figure of the Thiermensch, the natural -- conceived as the order in which values originate -- has instead come to represent both the force that undermines the "whole man" and the primal surging force (Kraft) of nature. Thus the modern subject is schizoid, by virtue of the fact that no original order may be sought in the sense of a chronological or directional unfolding. It is in fact the chronological quality of modernity, and the difference that opposes it to the time of the original, natural order of things, that now is in doubt.

The nature of the post-modern, according to Frederick Jameson’s well-known theory, is to reinscribe the pre-modern within the heart of modern space. The retrospective "reversal" of Nietzsche’s description of Judeo-Christian morality as a type of Sklaven-Moral would produce an effect of exactly this type. Indeed, the presence of Christian fundamentalism within the ideological structure of post-industrial, free-market capitalism produces such an effect in its own right. It is, however, the particular privilege of both Christian fundamentalism and globalized free-market capitalism to define themselves as avatars of a primordial origin or a state of nature which can neither be surpassed nor questioned. The alliance between religion and free-market capitalism is, in a phrase, the unsurpassable horizon of our time. This is above all the case because this alliance has produced the dominant genealogical account of the modern political economy, outside of which no description of reality can be adequate: the welfare-state must be relegated to the scrap-heap of history in order to restore an original state of nature in which the strong are triumphant.

Paradoxically, however, and on the mode of an error, the Nietzschean definition of modernity troubles the unalloyed victory of this unsurpassable and eternally-returning origin. For if Nietzsche’s genealogy of morals suffers from an original analytical flaw, so too might the genealogy of political morals that dominates the thought of the contemporary conservative consensus. Nietzsche’s schizoid subject (the Thiermensch) defines a modernity that the conservative genealogy of political morals would reject. The necessity of identifying the source of the inversion of morals as the welfare state means that the political genealogy of morals at the heart of globalized free-market capitalism relies on a dialectical movement of return to an original un-inverted state of nature. The thread of historical continuity in this genealogical account therefore undergoes a pseudo-dialectical twisting movement, like the looping of a Möbius strip. The post-modern reifies modernity’s inverted moment without changing it, rejecting it on the basis that it is incoherent. Modernity is a uniquely negative instance (i.e., the "welfare state" inverts moral values by diverting questions of "personal responsibility" to the instances of history, society, and the state: modernity is, in fact, refractory to the notions of subject and origin), and to overcome modernity’s fractured schizoid dissonance, post-modernity returns in symbolic form to a mythical, primal origin.

The elemental genealogical presupposition advanced by fundamentalist Christianity is that the weak have been unduly protected by the intervention of the welfare state. In order for life to return, for growth to occur, and for the subjugation of man to end, the uncontrolled strength and power of the free market must be unleashed. Thus, in this conservative genealogy of political morals, which has established a political consensus between capitalism and religious fundamentalism in the contemporary United States, not only does government play the role of Nietzsche’s Christianity, but the free market plays the role of the Übermensch. However, the relationship of analogy between the Nietzschean genealogical maneuver and the Reaganite political economy suggests that a flaw inherent in the first will be present in the second, as well. Indeed, if the analogy holds true, the Nietzschean genealogy of good and evil is necessarily troubled by a primordial analytical flaw. For if Christianity (or even Judaism) were truly the source of the inversion of values (Sklaven-Moral), then the religious fundamentalism aligned with the Reaganite political genealogy would be the opposite of Christianity. Meanwhile, if Nietzsche was wrong, and Christianity was not the source of the inversion of values, then the Reaganite genealogy of political morals will suffer from the same analytical flaw as Nietzsche’s genealogy. Indeed, if the political doxa of the Reaganite genealogy of morals retrospectively disconfirms Nietzsche’s analysis of Christianity by demonstrating that Christianity can be marshaled to the cause of promoting the strong at the expense of the weak, then by deduction, it would appear that the genealogical method is unable to answer the question of whether weakness or strength is evil, because as a method, genealogy has failed to identify the original cause of the inversion of good and evil. Genealogy only takes one step back, while history has moved two steps forward. The rational bureaucratic Protestant has in fact come to embody the Nietzschean superman.

We should, then, linger over the nature of the Reaganite political consensus that currently dominates the United States, and examine the institutions necessary to maintain its fundamentally flawed genealogical story intact. For it is above all against the erosion of this story that the educational, administrative, and foreign policy apparatus of the fundamentalist American political consensus must strive. And since the political, cultural and educational institutions that serve the Reaganite free-market ideology are dedicated principally to defending the governing genealogical myth, and since that genealogical myth is founded on an analytical error, the various propositions those institutions endorse are doomed to stumble again and again on a certain number of paradoxes. These paradoxes will recapitulate those we have already observed in the Nietzschean example, where a genealogical myth will produce internal contradictions that prevent it from coherently describing reality. The development of the genealogical method produces paradoxes as the result of an initial analytical error. Furthermore, this error concerns the issue of an origin or initial cause, but not merely of a particular type: of a type that founds the genealogical method as the way to correct an initial inversion of values. That is to say, the claim that values are inverted gives the genealogical method its impetus, and without that impetus, the question arises whether the values at stake in the genealogical argument can be said to have a true origin, and whether that origin in turn justifies any sort of nostalgic restitution. Thus Nietzsche would restore the lost, original connection between the noble and the good, while the Reaganite political economy would restore the lost, original connection between Christian fundamentalism and free-market capitalism.

If the category of the aesthetic is the political form of philosophy, then the slide that carries us from Nietzsche to the modern American fundamentalist genealogy of political morals is aesthetic in nature, since it takes us from the philosophical to the political. Paul de Man describes the Hegelian category of the aesthetic in the following terms: "by dint of the structure of the Hegelian system, the consideration of aesthetics only makes sense in the context of the larger question of the relationship between order of the political and the order of philosophy." v The aesthetic deals with the relationship between symbol and sign in terms of beauty, and therefore the true meaning of beauty is its embodiment. It is no coincidence that the Christian ideal of truth is invariably some form of embodiment or incorporation, since such an arrangement tends to dismantle the opposition between idealism and realism that separates, for example, religious morality and political realism. Yet this type of "aesthetic" maneuver leaves aside the indispensable category of ethics. Famously, Lévinasian phenomenology is founded on the notion that our relationship to being is rooted in our relationship to the absolute difference of others, thus placing ethics at the source of philosophy, contrary to the Heideggerian insistence on the primordial status of being and the concomitant elimination of ethics. By forgetting ethics, the aesthetic maneuver would sever the question of whether pursuing the truth is necessarily "good," and from this severing proceeds the Nietzschean spiral of inverted values. Until the ethical ground of being (our relation to others) is made clear, the Nietzschean revaluation of values will continue to produce new genealogies that contain some form of the same original analytical error, in which the good and the true are aligned so closely that they are literally embodied by Plato, or worse still, by a Christian fundamentalism that equates truth with being on the mode of a single, indivisible, embodied subject.

It would be fitting to return at this point to examine the relationship between the genealogical maneuver and what might be termed the egotism of the fundamentalist. The extent to which the American political culture is saturated by the Reaganite genealogy of political morals is perceptible in the unprecedented contemporary dominance of the Republican party in all three branches of the American Federal government. American foreign policy is significantly influenced by the support the Reaganite genealogical myth enjoys among fundamentalist Christian voters and politicians, particularly now that Islamic fundamentalism has come to represent a military threat to U.S. interests. The post-Cold War realignment has produced an astonishingly medieval-seeming "clash of civilizations" that has added an explicitly religious dimension to a foreign policy previously defined largely in political and economic terms. The modern international dominance of the United States, as well as the influence of fundamentalist Christianity on U.S. foreign policy, may well be cases where it is hard to distinguish historical "events" from "simulacra." vi But it seems undeniable that the competition between globalized free-market capitalism and the "welfare state" belongs to the category of the historical event, and simulacra become enduringly significant when they bring such historical events to symbolic expression.

Whether it is an event or a simulacrum, an American foreign policy simultaneously defined by predatory capitalism and Christian fundamentalism is present in many recent analyses, vii but it makes a particularly striking appearance in the diplomatic letter the President of Iran addressed to President George W. Bush on May 9, 2006. Ahmadinejad’s letter, which was the first such official communication between Iranian and American heads of state in 27 years, presents the United States as attempting to "work towards the establishment of a unified international community -- a community which Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern," while simultaneously pursuing an aggressively expansionist foreign policy. In this sense, Christian fundamentalism at least gives the appearance of playing a decisive role in defining the national interests and determining the foreign policy objectives of the United States. Yet the main foreign policy goal of the United States, according to the Reaganite genealogical myth, should actually consist of dismantling the welfare state to prevent it from impeding the free market, so that powerful new forces will be unleashed. Thus the United States is not primarily interested in defeating its religiously-defined (Islamic) foe, or rather, the conflict with international non-state Islamic terrorist networks is merely a consequence of real primary objectives of United States foreign policy. The Reaganite genealogical myth claims the strength of the market will remedy the welfare state’s inversion of political values, and similarly, the market will regulate all other political conflicts because every impediment cedes before the unsurpassable source, origin, and subject of our (postmodern) time. The Bush administration thus embodies the paradox of a triumphant Christian society spurning the weak and promoting the strong, unleashing its Thiermenschen and inflaming the pursuit of strength, power, and fearsomeness through a sustained military campaign against both its Islamist and its welfare-state foes. The religiously-defined war against terror is, however, only a side-effect of the older and more important United States foreign policy goal of replacing the welfare state with the globalized free market.

In a recent essay on the goals and internal logic of American international policy, Richard Falk makes the astute observation that the most important step toward neutralizing international non-state Islamic terrorism would be to broker an equitable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Falk notes, the assumptions guiding U.S. foreign policy under George W. Bush (what Falk calls "the hard option") are those of an empire, and therefore, the attitudes about justice and international law necessary to the pursuit of the two-state system are sadly lacking. "The most elementary aspect of the rule of law is to treat equals equally, so the most direct repudiation of law (and justice) is to treat equals unequally. If power is used to treat equals unequally, especially in relation to issues of war and peace, then it exposes the role of power and domination and undermines respect for peaceful solutions of international conflicts. If justice rather than declared law is to be the moral measure of world order, then the proper test is the response to human suffering and the privations of the weak." viii Falk’s opposition between justice and "declared" law relies on a critique of the arbitrary imposition of law through force. Realist foreign policy is, in this sense, an attempt to impose the national interest of the United States in the form of laws that do not respond to basic criteria of justice. In other words, current U.S. foreign policy would impose a political order that ignores the interests of the weak. Thus the attempt to curtail terrorist extremism by mitigating its root cause (in other words, by enforcing an equitable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) is out of alignment with the realist conception of American national interest in foreign policy. As a result, realist foreign policy is in the paradoxical position of encouraging the continued existence of the very terrorist threat it considers its chief enemy. This paradox is founded on the philosophical common ground that unites the Christian fundamentalist genealogy of political morals with American foreign policy goals: the strong must not be constrained from prevailing over the weak.

  1. Deleuze’s reading of Nietzsche reposes on the difference that separates the Dionysian from the dialectical nature of Christianity: "Même quand le christianisme chante l’amour et la vie, quelles imprécations dans ces chants, quelle haine sous cet amour! Il aime la vie, comme l’oiseau de proie l’agneau: tendre, mutilée, mourante. Le dialecticien pose l’amour chrétien comme une antithèse, par exemple comme l’antithèse de la haine judaïque... L’opposition de Dionysos ou de Zarathoustra au Christ n’est pas une opposition dialectique, mais l’opposition à la dialectique elle-même: l’affirmation différentielle contre la négation dialectique..." Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche et la philosophie (Paris: PUF, 1962): 17, 19. Thus, in a manner of speaking, to posit a dialectical negation to Nietzsche’s thought means we must have recourse to the seemingly paradoxical specter of Nietzschean Christianity.

  2. The idea that there is any essence or state of nature to be found in Nietzsche is a contentious point; indeed, it is interesting to note that Gilles Deleuze is more cautious than Foucault on just this matter. Foucault argues that the genealogical method does not seek an origin (Ursprung), but rather, works to uncover the movement of history in the form of heritage or inheritance (Herkunft). (See Michel Foucault, "Nietzsche, Généalogie, Histoire," in Hommage à Jean Hyppolite (Paris: PUF, 1971): 145-72. Foucault’s anti-essentialism is more radical than Deleuze’s, who hedges his bets by affirming the importance the notion of "origin" for the genealogical project, albeit in the form of a difference: "Généalogie veut donc dire origine ou naissance, mais aussi différence ou distance dans l’origine. Généalogie veut dire noblesse et bassesse... l’origine est la différence dans l’origine, la différence dans l’origine est la hiérarchie... La hiérarchie comme inséparable de la généalogie, voilà ce que Nietzsche appelle ’notre problème.’ (3, 8-9). I have adopted this more cautious Deleuzian approach regarding the idea of "origin" in Nietzsche’s thought.

  3. The polyvalent and uncanny qualities of the figure of the man-animal are brought to light in the superb third volume of Michel Surya’s Matériologies. See M. Surya, Humanimalité (Paris: Léo Scheer, 2004).

  4. The man-animal paradox is emblematic of Nietzsche’s break from reality, since both present a tangled etiology that evokes the specter of a synthetic, undecomposable, and ultimately undecidable origin. Nietzsche’s descent into madness serves as a litmus test to discern moralists from materialists: one either claims it was the outcome of his philosophy or the product of empirical brain chemistry. In either case, the Christian American man-animal is certainly not the horse Nietzsche legendarily embraced in his ultimate schizoid act of 1889, nor is Nietzsche in this apparent moment of self-contradiction at all like the American foreign policy apparatus currently harnessing or unleashing every available animal and human resource. Nor are the Thiermenschen to be confused with the unconsciously Calvinistic Übermenschen whose ideology has come to dominate foreign policy in the United States today. As Georges Bataille trenchantly observed, Nietzsche’s illness "était d’origine somatique." See Georges Bataille, Sur Nietzsche (Paris: Gallimard, 1945): 28.

  5. Paul de Man, "Hegel on the Sublime," in Warminsky, ed., Aesthetic Ideology, U. of Minnesota : 1997.

  6. On this distinction, see Jean Baudrillard, Simulacres et simulation (Paris: Galilée, 1981). Baudrillard brings the event-simulacrum distinction to bear on U.S. foreign relations in La Guerre du Golfe n’a pas eu lieu (Paris: Galilée, 1991) and L’Esprit du terrorisme (Paris: Galilée, 2002).

  7. On the influence of fundamentalist Christianity on the domestic politics of the U.S., see Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism (New York: W.W. Norton, 2006). On the impact of fundamentalist Christian eschatology on foreign policy, see former Nixon political advisers Kevin Philips, American Theocracy: the Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (New York: Viking, 2006) and John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (New York: Viking, 2006). For a thorough critique of the relationship between American religion and American Empire, see Gore Vidal, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated (New York: Nation Books, 2002).

  8. Richard Falk, "Slouching Toward A Fascist World Order," The American Empire and the Commonwealth of God (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2006): 52.

Gorman Shawn
Wormser Gérard masculin
Nietzschean Christianity, or, an American Foreign-Policy Paradox
Gorman Shawn
Département des littératures de langue française
Sens public 2006-09-24

In the dominant American political consensus at the beginning of the 21st century,the welfare state plays the same role Christianity plays within the Nietzschean genealogy of morals. That is, according to Reaganite economic theory, it is the welfare state, instead of Christianity, that is guilty of favoring the weak, thereby dampening the upsurge of primal forces associated with vigor and life.

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1846-1900)
Deleuze, Gilles (1925-1995)