Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ramblings on Weakness and Liberalism

A thread connecting Moses and Paul is that weakness serves as a foundation for strength--or manifestation of divine power. Moses' inability to speak positions him to speak for the Delivering One. Paul glories in weakness and foolishness through which divine power and wisdom are made known.

Nietzsche diagnosed and rejected this thread more clearly than anyone else. On his interpretation, this weakness derived from the debased and lowly, and served as the foundation for 'transvaluation,' that the values of nobles would be rendered diabolical. The elegance of Nietzsche's rejection is faith in its purest form, save that it is inverted and rejected. His anti-Christ is a mirror-wide avatar of Christ.

The (seeming) Pauline influence on the Gospel of Mark, and thus also Matthew and Luke, is such that power is rendered questionable, unless it is given in service of others. Here, too, Nietzsche was clear sighted, for he saw that latent within Christianity was proto-liberalism, which was coming to flower in his lifetime, along with a countercurrent of hideous fascism.

Arguably Nietzsche articulates (and rejects) the deepest element of the cultural genome on which we continue to rely. The ideas contained in these genes simultaneously question power (hence commending, albeit indirectly, liberalism) and also urge protection of the vulnerable (hence commending, also indirectly, the welfare state). These ideas also press forward a powerful, and often forgotten, existential element: that possessing power intensifies the likelihood that we will live enslaved to our false ideations of the world. This is the spirit (in Weber's sense) of political liberalism.

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