Friday, July 16, 2004

The Fear of Weakness

Those people who are most concerned with weakness or one showing any signs of weakness; those with any sort of pseudo-Nietzschean "superman" trappings; those who openly despise the people they consider "weak" -- I think deep inside they're themselves the ones who are the most fragile. It's a typical paradox of the Taoist nature: every phenomenon contains its exact opposite. Because there is nothing more fearsome to the one admiring strength and force than to admit one's own weakness, the horrifying idea that one might after all be vulnerable and mere mortal -- just like the rest.

Nazis are the best example here: they idealized strength, physical force and the aesthetic beauty of their so called superior Aryan race, and their greatest despisal and fear was directed towards those who were deemed "inferior" in their fallacious viewpoints: those of non-Aryan, non-Nordic, non-white peoples; those races or human types who were "ugly" or even physically deformed; i.e., who did not meet their narrowly defined aesthetic ideals, or simply those who were "weak". But how were the greatest leaders of the Nazis themselves? Not exactly the perfect specimen of the physically superior master race themselves: look any time at the photographs of Himmler, Göring, Göbbels or even Hitler himself. Weak jaws, pointed noses, men small in stature, skinny or over-weight. Grotesque small men with oversized neuroses turning into delusions of grandeur; weak little men whose greatest fear was weakness itself. Schizoid daydreamers and psychopathological utopists dreaming of the muscular and handsome "men of action". Nazi Germany was basically a Tom of Finland type of homoerotic masturbation fantasy; an adolescent superhero power fantasy that couldn't last. Instead of Superman (a comics character created by two Jewish schoolboys!) it was just a little kid in tights and cape jumping off the window before his parents could stop him, actually thinking he could fly. The outcome of this thoughtless game: millions of dead or crippled for life physically and mentally; half the world in ruins.

The other side of the totalitarian coin: the Soviet Communism. Enter the Stakhanovian Worker Superhero of Socialist Realism. The same muscular worker/soldier heroism, the strong jaw pointing upwards and fierce eyes gazing fearlessly into the shining future of the forthcoming utopia. But there was not to be any Utopia, only a dying Dystopia.

And now over half a century has passed, and what is left is only the Capitalist Dream. The dream of endless growth, increasing profits and returns with no end in sight. The Homo Economicus is the Superman of our own days. Welfare state and social security are for the weak only; nothing that our "self-made" neo-liberalist Supermen and Superwomen would need. The prevailing myth of our time is that of a self-made millionaire/billionaire. Lifestyles of the rich and famous. It would be all too easy to predict the eventual collapse of capitalism, in the way they did away with fascism and communism. The system that will lose its dynamism and ability to renew, regenerate itself will only lead to entropy. The strong will have nightmares every night of their own weakness creeping up to them. "And the meek shall inherit the Earth."