Re: Extropianism in the media

Eric Watt Forste (
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 20:28:00 -0700

>Nietzsche scholars, correct me if I'm wrong; but I think Nietzsche was
>referring to the Russians, not the Germans, when he coined the
>expression "Blonde Beast." Does anyone recall the original context for

He was referring to European barbarians in general. (I think the citation
would be THE GENEALOGY OF MORALS, but I'm not sure.) Since one of
Nietzsche's pet peeves was the destruction of classical civilization by the
Christians and the ancient Germans, he probably had the ancient Germans in
mind. But the phrase was also quite definitely intended to bring to mind
the image of a lion, a connotation that has been mostly lost since the
1940s. For those of you who have a copy of Zarathustra handy, the chapter
"The Three Metamorphoses" may make clearer what sort of image and cultural
role Nietzsche had in mind.

He was very definitely using the word in a value-free sense, neither
approving nor disapproving, but rather analyzing. The context is his
contrast of master morality with slave morality, the blond beast being
associated with the former. A very common mistake in Nietzsche
interpretation is to think that Nietzsche preferred master morality to
slave morality; in fact, he condemned both as narrow-minded. The mistake, I
think, results from Nietzsche's hatred of Christianity, which led him to
condemn slave morality at considerably greater length than master morality,
which he already knew most of his audience would condemn on their own.
(Would that he had taken greater care to prevent the misinterpretations of
the proto-Nazi minority!)

You go on to talk about what enabled Europe to "conquer the world" in the
18th and 19th centuries. This is certainly very far from N's context.
Nietzsche was a classics scholar, and what he was fretting about most of
the time was not the ability of civilized 19th-century Europeans to
dominate other cultures, but rather the much more worrisome ability of
uncivilized German barbarians and superstitious Christian rabble to destroy
classical civilization. (Me, I blame the Romans, but I've probably just
been unduly influenced by Petr Beckmann.)

>Andray also writes,
>> Several people of my acquaintance seem bothered by the
>> neo-Nietzschean subtext in a lot of Extropian rhetoric,
>What rhetoric are you referring to? I don't recall seeing any such
>rhetoric on the list. I'm the only one here (as far as I can tell) who is
>seriously unhappy with the PC world we live in. I have never been a
>spokesman for Extropianism, and in any case I'm not going to be here
>much longer.

I wouldn't worry about it. Most serious philosophers nowadays (including
such bastions of transatlantic socialism as Richard Rorty) are deeply
indebted to Nietzsche, and few serious thinkers worry themselves overmuch
about the Nazi caricature that springs to most people's minds when they
think "Nietzsche". Kaufmann's books are widely available if anyone wishes
to disabuse themselves of this caricature.

If you're not going to be around here much longer, you'll be missed. There
are too few strong challenges around here, and though you aren't always on
the mark, you've come up with some good ones.

Eric Watt Forste <>