Sunday, December 2, 2007

Footnote to The Splendid Blond Beast (21st Century Edition)

Here is Walter Kaufmann's translation of the passage in On the Genealogy of Morals I cited in that post (this time with some surrounding context):
There they savor a freedom from all social constraints, they compensate themselves in the wilderness for the tension engendered by protracted confinement and enclosure within the peace of society, they go back to the innocent conscience of the beast of prey, as triumphant monsters who perhaps emerge from a disgusting procession of murder, arson, rape, and torture, exhilarated and undisturbed of soul, as if it were no more than a students' prank, convinced they had provided the poets with a lot more material for song and praise. One cannot fail to see at the bottom of all these noble races the beast of prey, the splendid blond beast prowling about avidly in search of spoil and victory; this hidden core needs to erupt from time to time, the animal has to get out again and go back to the wilderness: the Roman, Arabian, Germanic, Japanese nobility, the Homeric heroes, the Scandinavian Vikings -- they all shared this need.
All italics are Kaufmann's. The passage is from the First Essay, Section 11 (Basic Writings of Nietzsche, p. 476). I should also mention Kaufmann's footnote to the term blond beast since it also provides some useful context:
This is the first appearance in Nietzsche's writings of the notorious "blond beast." It is encountered twice more in the present section; a variant appears in section 17 of the second essay; and then the blonde Bestie appears once more in Twilight, "The 'Improvers' of Mankind," Section 2 (Portable Nietzsche, p. 502). That is all. For a detailed discussion of these passages see Kaufmann's Nietzsche, Chapter 7, section III: "...The 'blond beast' is not a racial concept and does not refer to the 'Nordic race' of which the Nazis later made so much. Nietzsche specifically refers to Arabs and Japanese ... -- and the 'blondness' presumably refers to the beast, the lion."
In other words, the "blond beast" is a general metaphor for the predatory behavior that so often characterizes the elites, the ruling classes. The cultures to which Nietzsche refers are ones that contemporary cross-cultural psychologists would characterize as vertical (ones in which Triandis notes, hierarchy is accepted as a sort of starting value or given. "People are different from each other. Hierarchy is a natural state. Those at the top "naturally" have more power and privileges than those of the bottom of the hierarchy.").

Today's blond beasts are the predatory capitalists and their aligned political, religious, and media authorities. That to me seems as good a reading of Baby Doc Bush, Rush Limbaugh, and Michael Ledeen referred to at A Tiny Revolution as any.

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