Saturday, 23 June 2018



Is President Trump a latter-day incarnation of Nietzsche’s Superman? Hardly physically so, granted, but ethically? As the subverter and inverter of liberal values? An iconoclastic, inspired Zarathustra, perhaps? The creator of an alternative, ruthless and superior morality?

Not so crazy. Nietzsche’s ‘Twilight of the Idols’ is subtitled ‘How to philosophise with a hammer’. Thus the German thinker sets out to smash, break down the cherished idols of his XIX century culture, such as belief in a future life, rationality, democracy and egalitarianism. He attacks European decadence and ‘nihilism’, exalts heroes like Caesar and Napoleon over the cattle-like masses they led and argues for a radical ‘transvaluation of all values’.

Trump is no philosopher. He would not be able to distinguish between Plato and Pluto, Mickey Mouse’s dog. You can’t imagine him quoting Hobbes or Hegel. Is he nonetheless an instinctive, natural Nietzschean statesman? An intrepid, unashamed breaker of PC conventions and clichés? The many idols he has overturned seem to prove it. In his electoral campaign he has mocked, insulted and offended innumerable esteemed and revered people, such as: 1) the disabled; 2) women – even alluded to ‘periods’; 3) Mexicans; 4) Blacks; 5) Muslims 6) the Media – admittedly, an easy one. 7) Migrants…too long to mention them all. More than 600, it appears. Children, those untouchable icons of bourgeois sentimentality, are the latest target. In that, the President has outdone the Superman. Even Zarathustra, I think, abstained from touching those. Truly, Trump is unique.

What about Jesus? He comes in because Daniela, my delightful sister-in-law, on FB has condemned Trump’s separation of children from their illegal immigrant parents by invoking his name. ‘Let the children come unto me’, Jesus says in the Gospels. Actually, one biblical commentator – Enoch Powell, no less – claimed that passage should be understood allegorically: Christ by ‘children’ meant his own people, the Jews! Further, the Old Testament, the incubation of the Messiah, shows no particular emotive feeling towards children as a human category. Indeed, Prophet Elijah was somewhat harsh towards boys who had derided him… (2 Kings, 2:23) Anyway, I observed that Jesus said many things which our culture would never dream to quote or uphold. For example, about the totally illicit nature of divorce. You can’t have a Jesus a la carte, I don’t think.

As everybody knows, Nietzsche detested and rejected the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. In another book, The Antichrist, he subjected the figure of the Messiah to a savage deconstruction. He was also very rude to the Apostle Paul, whom he accused of having raised the human scum and swarm of the ancient world against the Roman Empire. Trump the politician, whatever his inner beliefs, could not follow suit. It would lose him votes. Evangelical Christians would not like anti-Pauline rants one little bit. They are amongst the President’s staunchest supporters and also great fans of St Paul’s views. Like all US presidential candidates, Trump has to pay lip service to Christianity. Nor could he start hammering at the most sacred of all cows of the Western world: the state of Israel and Zionism. Note how he has steered well clear of criticising them. Even the Superman knows its limitations. Or, rather, he realises that there are idols too big and powerful to be brought down. It’s called


** Still, the Donald has taken on a formidable, hitherto unchallenged idol. America is poised to pull out of the UN Human Rights Council. Not as emotionally impacting as caged children but, ideologically speaking, a tsunami of a move. Because the doctrine of human rights is the most invoked paradigm to impose Western cultural criteria and norms across the whole world. Imperialism under a subtler name, some opine. Writer Francis Shaeffer, a thoughtful Protestant controversialist, examined the roots of this corrosive ideology in a prophetic book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? A defender of the inalienable rights of the human person – as opposed to the dogma of the ‘human rights’ concept – Shaeffer traced the origins of anti-human ‘humanism’ back to the epoch immediately preceding the Renaissance, indeed called ‘Humanism’. It consisted in the resurgence of pagan ideas masked as novel ways of understanding the Christian faith. When the humanists went back to ancient texts, statues and
ruins of the pre-Christian world, they intended to bring back the ancient gods. In figures like Pope Borgia and Leo X under the Catholic garb you contemplate purely pagan princes who had foully usurped the title of representatives of Christ. Polytheism, the worship of the ancient idols suppressed by Christ, was back. Shaeffer shows how this perverted humanism led eventually to modern philosophies robbing the human person of its essential value, from Nazism to Communism. And to a mere instrumental, technological use of reason manifest in horrors like Auschwitz, as well as in widespread anti-human practices like abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Systematically peddled under cover of the notion of universal ‘human rights’. Insofar as Trump’s action implies a critique of secular human rights dogmas, that’s good news to the priest.

Alas, the creepy Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, doesn’t have a clue about thinkers like Schaeffer and the moral perniciousness of human rights ideology as an anti-human concept. Instead, she justifies withdrawal from the Human Rights Council on the laughable basis of ‘anti-Israel bias’! To fathom that idiocy you must return to what I have pointed out above: even the Superman has to think in terms of self-survival…

** As Nietzsche would say, pace Trump-Superman: ‘Human, all too human’.


** Revd Frank Julian Gelli

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