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.

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