Monday, February 18, 2013
A letter from Rich Rockwell on Chivington
Rich Rockwell, my friend, colleague at Metro and someone who was raised in La Junta, sent me the following pointed note on Nietzsche and Sand Creek. Nietzsche’s writings on the Jewish inversion of values were taken in even by the sophisticated Heidegger in the process of becoming a Nazi. Nietzsche donned mask after mask; as Brian Leiter and Tracy Strong have suggested to me, some of Nietzsche’s thoughts – i.e. that the Pope was really working through a Jewish reality – press the understanding of smart people. And yet...
Nietzsche was also a brilliant psychologist, though his views on envy as the basis of justice are, as Rich’s letter suggests, foolish.
Nietzsche is also like a Plato lacking a deep sympathy for Socrates and civil disobedience. That is, he constructs many false paths. It is possible to take the surface of Nietzsche (read aloud the citation from below) pretty directly as a source for European fascism and anti-semitism, perhaps even more easy than reactionaries taking the surface of the Republic to justify counsel to tyrants (this is Heidegger’s view and that of several other Nazi philosophers who each sought to be the “philosopher” to – lapdog of - Hitler.
“Nietzsche would be proud of the Chivington Monument
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts on Sand Creek, Chivington, and Evans, especially since I hail from the area, La Junta (redux of Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire, where ranchers and farmers, e.g. the peasants, who get subsidies not to raise livestock or grow certain crops end up voting for Bush and Romney), birthplace of Ken Kesey, home of the old Kit Carson Hotel (Kit Carson’s great grandson was my high school history teacher), Amache (the Colorado Japanese Internment Camp, courtesy of Roosevelt’s executive order), and Sand Creek (Eads). A few years after the Sand Creek Massacre, Nietzsche wrote “The Genealogy of Morals.” Nietzsche would be so proud of the monument to Colonel Chivington and has most likely been beaming down his approval for decades at this piece in front of our state’s capitol [see "The Post and the burning issue of Sand Creek here], for it is the victors, “rulers, lords, and sovereigns” he admires - the Genghis Khans of this world. They (the masters) were synonymous with noble and good until the Jewish revolts.
Nietzsche, the self-avowed “Polish Nobleman,” sees the “master” as the true noble; he hearkens back to the world of heroes, godlike leaders and supermen. For Nietzsche, the “slave,” or the “workers” of Marx, have become the “mob, the herd, the lastman” in a world in values have become inverted. Nietzsche admits his obsession with the forces of “good” and evil” from an early age and realizes that the terminology as it applies to human beings was set in stone by the class systems of earlier times. What related to aristocracy “tall, fair, nobility” was everything considered “good” and what; described their opposites “dark, lowborn, native populations” were also opposite in nature and “bad.” The warriors are the heroes of earlier times and are praised by Nietzsche; he includes romans, Arabians, and Japanese among the conquerors as well as the ancient Vikings.
It is the particular message that the Jewish/Christian tradition enunciated that is so appalling to Nietzsche; instead of glorifying mastery over defeated enemies the “slave” ethic is celebrated and the ideal for mankind becomes the ennoblement of suffering (Job) pain and humble acceptance of one’s lot. Nietzsche presents the Jewish tradition (the Old Testament) as a tree trunk of vengeance that grew a completely new tradition; the triumph of the common mob, the slaves, the “herd” of history; out of this trunk grew branches and the eventual “crown of Christian Love.” Nietzsche’s theme/thesis throughout the “Genealogy of Morals” is forthright; it was the Jews who started the “slave revolt in morals” and thus began the inversion of values. Here, let Nietzsche speak:
“It was the Jew who, with frightening consistency, dared to invert the aristocratic value equations good/noble/powerful/beautiful/happy/favored-of-the gods and maintain, with the furious hatred of the underprivileged and impotent, that “only the poor, the powerless are good; only the suffering, sick, and ugly, truly blessed. But you noble and mighty ones of the earth will be, to all eternity, the evil, the cruel, the avaricious, the godless, and thus the cursed and damned!” …We know who has fallen heir to this Jewish inversion of values… it was the Jews who started the slave revolt in morals… You find that difficult to understand?”
I’m sure Nietzsche can’t stand the idea of me (“co-mingling, race-mixing” – not to mention teaching college students using your books, Zinn, and Thucydides – all powerful influences in giving a voice to those who do not have a voice) and considers it a “moral” victory to know that such monuments in the world still stand in the 21st century or that Jimmy Carter held “rallies for Calley” in Georgia when the peanut farmer chose to transition and run for Governor a la Plato’s Euthydemus dialogue (where Euthydemus and Dionysodorus who used to be military arms dealers/trainers wish to start teaching $ophistry). Nietzsche would have hated Pete Seeger’s “Last train to Nuremberg” – about Calley and Medina). In closing, I’d like to keep Nietzsche’s hubris/bravura in check and allow Black Kettle to speak:
“All we ask is that we have peace with the whites. We want to hold you by the hand. You are our father. We have been traveling through a cloud. The sky has been dark ever since the war began. We want to take good tidings home to our people, that they may sleep in peace. I want you to give all these chiefs of the soldiers here to understand that we are for peace, and that we have made peace, that we may not be mistaken by them for enemies. I have not come here with a little wolf bark, but have come to talk plain with you.”
-- Motavato (Black Kettle) speaking to Colorado Govornor Evans, Colonel Chivington, Major Wynkoop & others in Denver, autumn, 1864