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:
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.