A new book about the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche provides the key to understanding the mentality of America’s top presidential candidates, and a surprising link between them and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton approach issues of justice and morality as though they are themselves above the laws and rules that apply to lesser men and women, and Nietzche’s ideas explain why.
“It is kind of a Nietzchean political race, if you will,” C. Ivan Spencer, professor of history and philosophy at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of the new book Tweetable Nietzsche: His Essential Ideas Revealed and Explained, told PJ Media in an interview Wednesday.
“You could probably construe both of the leading candidates right now as having rather large egos, and exerting pretty much their personal will to power over the population,” Spencer explained. “They are able to construe the truth however they want, and this is a will to truth so they can impose their will of things on the population and essentially skirt the law.”
Nietzsche’s philosophy centers on the idea of “will to power,” that human beings survive to conquer and dominate one another in an endless struggle for life, which through the process of evolution will produce the Übermensch, the overman or superman. Humans evolved from animals and will evolve into the superman, and morality itself is an impediment to that process of evolution.
According to Nietzsche, the will determines everything. As Spencer’s book explains, “will precedes, drives, and rules over knowledge, truth, values, and even science. Will constructs all, so systems of truth and knowledge should never rule over the individual will.” In contrast to will stands “slave morality,” which Nietzsche saw as “a poker bluff used by the weak to keep the strong from devouring them.”
Nietzsche believed that the physical world is all there is, and that evolution explains the origin and destiny of humanity. In his view, there is no good or evil, only the will to survive and dominate. As a result, “Nietzsche reveals that he sees truly great leaders as those who trump traditional virtues, those who go beyond good and evil, and those who will to power.” Who does that sound like?
It sounds like Adolf Hitler. Spencer explained that Nietzsche criticized Germans and likely would not have agreed with the Nazis, but his ideas certainly inspired them. Nietzsche praised war as a struggle for the fittest — a kind of sped-up evolution — and his ideas led to World Wars I and II.
But the Nazis took more than that from the German philosopher. Their idea of a master race and the promotion of that race over others echoes the will to power, and Nietzsche’s ideas gave this racism some legitimacy. The philosopher also saw the world in terms of hierarchy: the strong prevail over the weak, and it is the strong who will become the Übermensch. The master race and the Nazi leadership were considered above morality, defining the terms of right and wrong.
Naturally, no one wants to be a Nazi today, and neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump lives by the hateful ideology of Nazism. What they do live by, however, are the ideas of Nietzsche.
Next Page: How Nietzsche’s will to power explains Clinton’s lawbreaking and Trump’s emphasis on “winners” and “losers.”
“I’ve watched the Clintons for nigh three decades now, and they do seem to be above the law,” Spencer told PJ Media. He did not think it necessary to list the corruption involved in the FBI investigation of her private email server, her paid speeches to Wall Street firms, the Democratic National Committee’s favoritism in the 2016 primary, or Clinton’s blatant hypocrisy saying that “every victim of sexual assault deserves to be believed” despite her attacking alleged victims of her husband’s abuse.
“You do see kind of a Nietzschean amorality there,” Spencer argued.
For Trump, the comparison is even easier. As Peter Wehner wrote in The New York Times, Trump lives and breathes the will to power. He admires strength more than humility, power more than sacrifice, “winners” over “losers.” His notorious Access Hollywood comments explain how popular men are able to seduce even married women — presenting a double standard between celebrities like himself and these women’s own husbands.
So “both of these candidates, if you look at them through a Nietzschean lens,” their mentality is “I’m above and beyond trite morals of ordinary people,” Spencer argued. Influenced by Nietzsche’s ideas, Clinton and Trump act according to a simple mantra: “I create and fashion morality according to how I will. I don’t need to apologize, I need to move forward with asserting myself and my power.”
“Both of the candidates that we have have a radically different vision of politics and public life, and they are trying to impose that upon the population,” Spencer said.
Even though both Clinton and Trump are influenced by Nietzsche’s ideas, Spencer argued that the political movements which would take most inspiration from the German philosopher “are your independents and your libertarian types.”
Nietzsche “advocates the individual asserting himself or herself through their will and that the state should get out of the way of the individual.” This appeals very well to the ideas of libertarians like Ayn Rand, whose philosophy of Objectivism is very “Nietzschean in her approach to ethics and politics.”
The German philosopher’s ideas also inform the LGBT movement, especially transgenderism. “Don’t let any preconceived idea of human nature mold you,” Spencer explained, citing the existentialist school of thought which Nietzsche launched. “You can choose your own identity, choose your own gender. Don’t let preconceived ideas of gender mold you, you pretty much mold yourself through your own choices.”
While Nietzsche might support transgenderism, however, he would not stand for the political correctness often associated with the LGBT movement. “Political correctness does seem to be a kind of social-herd morality: ‘We have to conform to the masses’ is something that he would have been utterly against,” Spencer argued. For this reason, Nietzsche opposed socialism and communism, and “he would probably be adamantly against that kind of social coercion” which tells people what to say and what to think.
So while Nietzsche today might be a libertarian, he would probably reject notions of anti-discrimination law and special “LGBT rights.”
One thing is certain, however. Nietzsche’s mentality of a “will to power” above morality and fair play fits perfectly into the lives and practices of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. That should be scary to everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike.