Friedrich Nietzsche as a Leftist: The Will to Ego

From the War Resisters Website, a screed by Joey Ayoub, a nice liberal with a big ego:

Leftists and anti-authoritarians have a responsibility to vote out Trump

Just once, JUST ONCE, I would have liked to see a piece with the title: "Swing Voters in Swing States Have A Responsibility to Vote Out Trump." At least such a title would have put the responsibility upon those who actually had the power to do the deed. Such a dream article, were it actually to exist, would focus upon strategies whereby swing states could be flipped for Biden. Maybe the folks at MoveOn are thinking this way, and, indeed, if they are, they merit an Honorable Discharge from the Roster of Nice Liberals with Big Egos.

Joey Ayoub, however, is not one of those, and so, while we wallow in the pointlessness of Left existence (in the absence of something actually Left to do, it must be said), we arrive at what Friedrich Nietzsche would have looked like had he been a Leftist in the year 2020: "The Will to Ego." The subtitle confesses as much. "Biden is problematic, but he can be pushed to the left if we intensify our struggles for justice and equality."

So, as stated numerous times before, once the great act of replacing the Trump-buffoon with the Biden-buffoon has been accomplished, the Left is going to "push" Biden. The assertion that this is absolutely positively going to happen, repeated by all nice liberals on the roster, is unfounded in history. But doing something that hasn't been done in historical time is something those with the Will to Ego will promise to do as if it were nothing. The nice liberals with big egos can make this promise, over and over again -- and their presumed agency is the Left.

All readers at caucus99percent should know by now what the historical record is. When Joe Biden's BFF Barack Obama became President in 2009, the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House. Thereafter, while Obama was President, the Democrats gave, to the Republican Party, all branches of the Federal government, 12 governor's houses, and 900+ seats in state legislatures. It behooves Ayoub and other nice liberals with big egos to explain why such a surrender of power isn't going to happen again. We of the Left aren't idiots.

Perhaps a Nietzschean view of politics could explain why the Left is the trusted agency to save the world from historical tendency. After all, if nobody is going to explain it to us, we have to assume it by the reading-between-the lines of essays like Ayoub's. Succumbing to historical tendency requires what Friedrich Nietzsche called the "herd virtues." If you're a Nietzschean you assume that the masses subscribe to these herd virtues. They can be counted on for passivity when Joe Biden in the White House does his thing (or, rather, does the thing of the billionaires whose bidding he does). So perhaps this explains why the nice liberals with big egos are all hung up on the Left. The Left, you see, is ostensibly made up of Übermenschen who will avoid the herd virtues when confronting Joe Biden. I am Leftist! I am der Übermensch! Hear me roar.

At any rate, I think that hardened readers of election run-up rhetoric can also ignore Ayoub's pitch about how Joe Biden is not Donald Trump. "Joe Biden promises not to be Donald Trump, so therefore... where were we. Oh yeah. Hate Trump; elect Biden." But trusting Biden looks too clearly like a fool's errand. Everyone who watched Joe Biden's last debate with Bernie Sanders knows that Joe Biden lies a lot. Meanwhile the flesh-and-blood Joe Biden vets Republicans so he can better impose austerity.

And maybe the Left is so prized by Ayoub because it can develop a "risk assessment culture." As follows:

Developing a risk assessment culture requires an understanding of the irreversible nature of the threat of climate catastrophe and the immediate threat of American authoritarianism. This also requires rejecting the tendency that exists within activist circles to adopt an “all-or-nothing” attitude when the consequences are already largely outside of individuals’ control. Not doing so leads to the fatalistic conclusion that nothing we do ultimately matters, and neither people nor justice can function under these assumptions.

The rest of the public does immediate risk assessment in another way, of course. The rest of the public is worrying how it is going to afford medical care, the rent, the bills, food, and so on. You know, the immediate threat of American destitution, there before the pandemic and the depression, and made worse by the pandemic and the economic downturn. This immediate risk assessment is, of course, what Bernie Sanders noticed. Perhaps the Übermenschen of the Left can resist, though, and focus on saving democracy, though, -- because, as we are told:

American liberal democracy is extremely fragile, and it should be changed and even transcended for the better, but it remains better than the visions put forward by the authoritarian right, the largest illiberal force in the United States today. Simply put, there is no guarantee that American democracy can survive a second Trump victory.

There's no guarantee that democracy will survive a first Biden term, either. There's no guarantee for democracy, period. And isn't it "herd virtues" to be afraid of "coming" terrors that have already happened? No, this is "inverted totalitarianism" of the kind Sheldon Wolin described. The reward of inverted totalitarianism is that it might allow us to say bye-bye to Donald Trump, and won't that be delicious? But there is a guarantee of democracy in place when the DNC screwed Bernie Sanders out of a nomination, twice? I don't think so.

In short, scaring people about the "possibility" of things which have already happened is a reversion to "herd virtues." The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche is no basis for a politics, let alone a "lesser evil" politics of the sort Joey Ayoub wants to pursue. The Übermenschen of Nietzsche's fantasy are nihilists, only interested in themselves; if they are to do what Ayoub wants them to do, they can only be halfway so. In the end, Ayoub and all of the nice liberals with big egos want to believe that Joe Biden is one of them (and then that we'll all turn around and face reality when it turns out he's nothing of the sort, just like he wasn't over the past forty-odd years since he became a Senator). All of the appeals to a Left they perform are ways of evading the fact that he's nothing of the sort now.

Thus Ayoub's conclusion:

In conclusion, the upcoming U.S. election is not just an option between two visions of society (although there certainly is that component too). It is an opportunity to modify a system, even if the modifications are relatively small in comparison to wider ideals. This is possible through accepting that the principle of “lesser evilism” and it does not have to be synonymous with de-intensifying struggles for justice and equality.

The upcoming US election, however, is not an option between two visions of society, nor is it an opportunity to modify a system. Its outcome is therefore likely to to be "de-intensifying struggles." Not to worry, though. The ostensible Left Übermenschen will save us.

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Cassiodorus's picture

Here is Nietzsche, from The Will to Power (pages 158-159):

Inertia operates (l) in trustfulness, since mistrust makes tension, observation, reflection necessary;- (2) in veneration, where the difference in power is great and submission necessary: so as not to fear, an attempt is made to love, esteem, and to interpret the disparity in power as disparity in value: so that the relationship no longer makes one rebellious;- (3) in the sense of truth. What is true? Where an explanation is given which causes us the minimum of spiritual effort (moreover, lying is very exhausting);- (4) in sympathy. It is a relief to count oneself the same as others, to try to feel as they do, to adopt a current feeling: it is something passive compared with the activity that maintains and constantly practices the individual's right to value judgments (the latter allows of no rest);- (5) in impartiality and coolness of judgment: one shuns
the exertion of affects and prefers to stay detached, "objective";( 6) in integrity: one would rather obey an existing law than create a law oneself, than command oneself and others: the fear of commanding-: better to submit than to react;- (7) in toleration:
the fear of exercising rights, of judging.

(emphases mine)

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"Every election is fake." -- Janna Ordonia, from "Star vs. the Forces of Evil"

One of the delusions of lesser evilism is believing that the Left might actually get something without trying. Hey, Trump will give us zero, but Biden because he is the lesser evil, will give us at least three of the things we want (how else do we know Biden is the lesser evil otherwise). As your essay says, Biden will give the Left zero, zilch, nada. The same as Trump.

But good point. Why don't the establishment egos rag on democrats who voted for Biden in Southern state to get off their asses and for once take their states in the general election. Why is the democratic party establishment relying on a number of state parties to decide who gets nominated when they can't even win their states in the general. And the only admonitions go out against the Left for possibly blowing the election.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@MrWebster history says Joe Biden will give us zero. We are not obliged to follow the dictates of history. But, nearly always, we do, especially if we are old and addled like Joe Biden and Donald Trump are.

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"Every election is fake." -- Janna Ordonia, from "Star vs. the Forces of Evil"

edg's picture

You wrote "We of the Left aren't idiots."

I question the veracity of that statement, myself included. I believed Bill Clinton when he mouthed lefty platitudes. I believed Obama when he mouthed lefty platitudes. I believed Sanders when he mouthed lefty platitudes. Like a moth drawn to flame, I keep burning my wings time and again by believing in those who speak the language of the left while masking their true allegiance to TPTB and the status quo.

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permanently shy

you are right, hope and change by any other name
still getting screwed, more to come!

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RantingRooster's picture

I admit, I did not get very far in the linked article before my head started to explode with cognitive dissonance...

The flawed logic of Liberals with big egos...

The past four years are informative in what Trump could do with four more years. If Trump sees that he can win a second time by suppressing the vote of minorities, especially Black people, and by openly appealing to conspiracy theorists of the QAnon variety and the far right, then it is reasonable to assume he would only get worse upon a second victory.

(Bold emphasis mine)

If we follow this logic, then it is reasonable to assume Joe Biden would only be worse (than he was as VP and or a Senator), based on his previous record, as the Liberal With a Big Ego's logic implies.

2 - failed previous presidential runs marred by blatant lies, plagiarism, support cutting social security etc...

How many years as a senator? - Trying to cut social security, and every other "entitlement safety net program, not to mention the actual legislation he fathered, sponsored or co-sponsored, that, in effect, all told and as it actually turned out to be, in two words, F***ing-Horrible!

Then there's the 8 Years as VP under the King of Drone Murder, Saint Obama, who left Trump with a treasure trove of dictatorial powers they could have removed before they left office.

But, why get rid of those powers when your anointed one is salivating with glee the war and mayhem she will unleash in the name of Democracy and Human Rights, which, "human rights" aren't even acknowledges in the US.

But low and behold, that acquainted notion of virtuous presidential electors, keeping crazy people (left or right) out of office, followed the letter of the law, but most egregiously, not the spirit of it, and gave us a real crazy person to run the most powerful office in the world.

Why asses risk, when you never have to be held accountable for your failure to properly assess the "risks"? And risk for whom?

The risk, if you will, is basically the same on balance. We know what to expect from Trump and we know Biden loves austerity and doesn't give two beans about the "left", who seem to be anyone to the left of Reagan but to the right of Sanders. It's absurd.

As long as we're trapped by TINA to Capitalism thinking, nothing will fundamentally change. That much we already know, right?


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C99, my refuge from an insane world.

snoopydawg's picture


then it is reasonable to assume he would only get worse upon a second victory.

I read yesterday about how Steven Miller has a bunch of executive orders for immigration ready to go if Trump gets another term and yes he is going to be much worse. Things are bad enough for them now so I can’t imagine how what he plans to do will even be legal. If unauthorized surgeries on migrant women wasn’t enough for people to be arrested what else will he get away with? Shudder thinking about how vulnerable they must feel.

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“Restoring the soul of this nation” is just MAGA with more words

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

It's not exactly an unprecedented idea:


I say, furthermore, it is precisely the idea we should be embracing: Heroic Individualism, a hallmark of paganism and early democracies before Christian slave morality (as Nietzsche himself nailed it) and Roman ur-fascism buried it alive (which is part of why I'm such a fan of Pagan Reconstructionism, that vast and gorgeous umbrella being another very conspicuous omission from the post-Occupy "Identity Politics" blitzkrieg). "The Left" has GOT to break out of the stupid "aversion to great people" trap. Altruism is born of egotism, not of collectivism. Autistic/schizoid individuals like myself are living proof of that. We need a world where only two boundaries matter: The cranium and the globe. I believe "communities" to be an unhappy medium, a relic of the Stone Age that might have saved our distant ancestors from saber-toothed tigers by turning them into stone-throwing mobs - but now in the Anthropocene Era, is killing us all by turning the stone-throwing mobs not only against each other, but even moreso against the innocent and the weak, who also happen to be the intelligent and the brave.

Possibly relevant, certainly fun (and SUCH A RELIEF to know there's another voice of lucidity out there):

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.