Power Makes Stupid: Reich, Kultur, and Bildung in Imperial Germany and America

My latest essay is now online in regular and b/w formats (best for printing).

The expatriate dissident Nietzsche, writing at the rise of the Reich, has much to teach us about culture and education today. In contrast to social criticism which amounts to vague negativity, this major work builds on his argument and lays out a particularized explanation of cultural decline reflected in politics, schools, and media.

A great deal of work went into making this one as deep and refined as possible at its length; I hope that shows, and I hope the essay provokes a lot of thought.

Here are some teaser excerpts:

In the production-line training required by mass education in public schools, the student is not an end in himself, but a means.

The rulers who compose the state want to perpetuate their own version of order versus the ‘chaos’ of culture coming into being. Just as the state is a threat to culture, culture is a threat to the state.

Wisdom is a dynamic, interpretive, and flexible process of holding multiple poses in a flow, not a single position one can attain and hold.

Successful music is not only played often, it often plays the audience.

Generative forces of individuals who create culture should be our greatest concern. If American culture has been declining, it has been because the holistic education of those with rejuvenating potential has failed them; indeed, suitable education has almost vanished in lieu of mass pseudo-education.


2 responses to “Power Makes Stupid: Reich, Kultur, and Bildung in Imperial Germany and America

  1. Thought-provoking essay, more so for those who may think themselves above the constrictive conceits described therein (many often are–to an extent!). In my instance, it’s a wrestling match between my intellect and my “spiritual” aspirations which leads to a certain paralysis. Is it better to try to cure the social “disease” or simply inoculate oneself from it? Where do these two goals intersect?

    • “to cure the social “disease” or simply inoculate oneself from it”

      As you probably know, Nietzsche said that expending effort for freedom and liberal institutions gave one more than possessing them; that in fact, possession is beside the point in many ways. Perhaps we can draw a larger point that fighting to cure is self-ennobling (and perhaps, even innoculating) in a way that removing oneself cannot be? I think of boddhisatvas. Of course there are ways to think you are doing this and merely squander yourself by becoming a mirror of the psychologies you’re fighting. But then there are wrong ways to do everything.

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