On the Genealogy of Morals (1887) by Friedrich Nietzsche: A diabolical deal

Nietzsche’s bid to trigger moral Armageddon reads like a great horror novel

Friedrich Nietzsche’s mission was staggering: cosmic regime change. Photograph: Culture Club/Getty Images

Friedrich Nietzsche’s mission was staggering: cosmic regime change. Photograph: Culture Club/Getty Images

 

One way to think of On the Genealogy of Morals is as among the greatest horror novels ever written. Ostensibly a work of philosophical anthropology, its content is so speculative and shocking that it has more in common with Lovecraft than with Kant.

The nature of Nietzsche’s mission was staggering: cosmic regime change, a blasting of humankind out of its Judeo-Christian echo chamber. God was dead, but the assumptions embedded in religious belief ran deep into the foundations of our civilisation, beneath the cheery parades of supposed atheism. Every theistic prejudice would eventually be uprooted, even if it took millennia, and thus we are now “part of a higher history than all history hitherto”. As Nietzsche remarked with breathtaking offhandedness in one of his letters, the first thing that will have to go is our entire European morality.

Genealogy is Nietzsche’s bid to trigger moral Armageddon. In three seditious essays, he argues that everything Christians believe to be good was born of seething ressentiment, the hatred of slaves for the sanguinity of their noble Roman masters. Christianity was a conspiracy of the weak, ugly and vengeful to effect a “slave revolution in morals” and cast shame on everything that had priorly been called good: lust, power, riches, freedom of spirit. Christian “love” was spawned from infinite hate, a spitefulness that forced the world to assume its own mangled image. Life became poisoned by guilt. Moreover, the democrats and socialists who agitate for the equality of all human beings are Christians in drag: they boast of having done away with God but assume they can somehow hang on to the morality His reign ensured.

Nietzsche still reads like the most urgent headline news. He knew full well that one day great cataclysms would be associated with his name. From Genealogy onward, the battle lines were drawn. Nietzsche committed himself to total war, accepted his adversarial destiny, opened negotiations with Evil. This book could only have been written by the anti-Christ.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.