I’m all confused.

nietzsche_50x57 The hot-headed Nietzsche’s startling line from his 1887 Genealogy of Morals has always stuck with me: “the truly great haters in world history have always been priests.”

That’s from the First Essay, Section 7, in the context of his analysis of slave morality born of ressentiment.

millBut now I read that, according to the judicious John Stuart Mill, in a work published in 1879: “if appearances can be trusted, the animating principle of too many of the revolutionary socialists is hate.”

That’s from p. 430 of Principles of Political Economy and Chapters on Socialism, in the context of Mill’s analysis of those socialists who seem less interested in improvement than in rage against the ills of the current system.

So who’s right?

Over a century later, in our own era of jihadists and deconstructionists, has anything changed? Do we have better evidence to say whether Nietzsche or Mill is more correct?

2 thoughts on “Haters

  • August 23, 2009 at 10:12 am

    They’re both right. Nietzsche was taking the long view. Priests were around long before there were any revolutionary socialists. On the other hand, revolutionary socialism itself is a sort of secular religion. No amount of socialist failures can convince the revolutionary true believers that they are wrong.

    As you pointed out in “Understanding Postmodernism”, many socialists simply denied logic and evidence, claiming that these were simply tools used by western, white males to dominate others.

    But many have taken another path: environmentalism. A search for environmentalism+social justice” returned over 800,000 hits. Here is one:

    “Eco-socialism, Green socialism or Socialist ecology is an ideology merging aspects of Marxism, socialism, Green politics, ecology and the anti-globalization movement. Eco-socialists generally believe that the expansion of the capitalist system is the cause of social exclusion, poverty and environmental degradation through globalization and imperialism, under the supervision of repressive states and transstatal structures; they advocate the non-violent dismantling of capitalism and the state, focusing on collective ownership of the means of production by freely associated producers and restoration of the Commons.[1]”


  • December 1, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    The greatest haters, in my experience, always perceive themselves as inhabiting the farthest dot on an isoceles triangle, for whatever reason: love, economics, power, respect: ressentiment covered it nicely and FN was there early, after Dostoevsky, in a way that made any honest reader recognize it in his own heart, even if FN couldn’t (like Freud. Dostoevsky sure as hell did and they never tossed him a credit, Ressentiment?) because it would have spoiled the incredible beauty and crackling sparks of his (Nietzshe’s) prose.
    Priests and socialists? Well, okay, but why stop handing out the passes there? In the Anti-Christ, FN ripped Paul and occasionally the synoptics for the obvious silliness, but he didn’t lean much on Jesus and the Pharisees, and he clearly admired the prophets. Yes, I know they weren’t priests, but this debate always streams into belief and Nietzsche wasn’t debating that in “Genealogy of Morals.”

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