Nietzsche’s influence on Coubertin is beyond doubt, although it is difficult to determine to what extent Nietzsche’s thought contributed to the formation and development of Coubertin’s Olympic idea, especially because it is hardly likely that Coubertin had direct contact with Nietzsche’s work. Most importantly, both conceptions are based on the “philosophy of will”, which tends to deal with the ideas of reason and freedom, and both propound the establishment of a direct and totalitarian power of the parasitic classes over the working people. Zarathustra’s question of all questions: “Who will be the master of the earth?” – is an indisputable guiding principle of Coubertin’s Olympic doctrine.
For Nietzsche, just as for Coubertin, “might is right” is the basis of social integration, although it is not based on evolution of the living world and on “progress”, but on the aristocratic heritage: the aristocracy is an incarnation of the cosmic order and an indisputable bearer of the “will to power” (Wille zur Macht) . Nietzsche is critical of Darwin’s conception and consequently of Coubertin’s theory of “progress”: “What surprises me most when I survey the broad destinies of man is that I always see before me the opposite of that which Darwin and his school see or want to see today: selection in favor of the stronger, better-constituted, and the progress of the species. Precisely the opposite is palpable: the elimination of the lucky strokes, the uselessness of the more highly developed types, the inevitable dominion of the average, even the sub-average types. If we are not shown why man should be an exception among creatures, I incline to the prejudice that the school of Darwin has been deluded everywhere. That will to power in which I recognize the ultimate ground and character of all change provides us with the reason why selection is not in favor of the exceptions and lucky strokes: the strongest and most fortunate are weak when opposed by organized herd instincts, by the timidity of the weak, by the vast majority. My general view of the world of values shows that it is not the lucky strokes, the select types that have the upper hand in the supreme values that are today placed over mankind; rather it is the decadent types – perhaps there is nothing in the world more interesting than this unwelcome spectacle.” (94) And he continues: “One counts on the struggle for existence, the death of the weaker creatures and the survival of the most robust and gifted; consequently one imagines a continual growth in perfection. We have convinced ourselves, conversely, that in the struggle for existence chance serves the weak as well as the strong; that cunning often prevails over strength; that the fruitfulness of the species stands in a notable relation to its chances of destruction…” (95) In Nietzsche, the relation between man and nature is not mediated by the animal world; there is a direct link between nature and man on the level of the “organic” dominated not by dialectical relations but by mechanicistic naturalism (big-small). In his “overman” (Übermensch) Nietzsche does not see a super-animal, but a being that “evades” the evolution of the living world and returns to the level of the organic, which is not ruled by the principle of competition that results from the current balance of powers and has a relative character, but by the principle of domination, which is the expression of the “accumulation of force” and has an absolute character. Unlike Coubertin, who insists on the established balance of powers between “elite” and “masses” resulting from the struggle for survival, Nietzsche insists on an order in which the domination of the “elite” corresponds to a cosmic order governed by the principle according to which the bigger devour the smaller, and to the basic existential principle of monopolistic capitalism according to which “the bigh fish devour the small fish”. Instead of an evolutionary, Nietzsche offers a cosmological model of the “will to power” which has a mechanicistic character: “Every living thing reaches out as far from itself with its force as it can, and overwhelms what is weaker; thus it takes pleasure in itself.” (96) And he continues: “Life, as the form of being most familiar to us, is specifically a will to the accumulation of force; all the processes of life depend on this: nothing wants to preserve itself, everything is to be added and accumulated.” (97)
For Nietzsche, what supports the “will to power” is the cosmic energy and man’s affective nature; in Coubertin, it is the expansionist power of monopolistic capitalism and man’s combative character. As a pragmatist, Coubertin seeks to (ab)use the cosmic powers in the form of an instrumentalised science and technique, in order to impose a social (class) order which corresponds to the relations of domination established in the animal world. In the development of man’s creative powers he does not see the means of man’s liberation from his dependence on nature and the abolishment of the power of one man over another man, but the means of man’s complete submission to the laws of evolution and the ensurance of indisputable domination of the parasitic classes over the “herd”. His “will to power” represents a transformation of the economic, scientific and technical forces of monopolistic capitalism into a totalitarian political power of the ruling “elite”. Instead of advocating a totalization of the world by way of man’s creative and libertarian practice, Coubertin advocates a totalisation of the world through the oppressive practice of the parasitic classes. For Nietzsche, science and technique are the forces that conquered nature and thus, in the name of “progress”, dealt with man’s natural being and consequently with the cosmic (natural) source of his “will to power”. Drawing on the ancient model, Nietzsche tries to return man to his cosmic being by way of art, which should develop in him the Dionysian life forces. At the same time, Nietzsche recognizes in technique the productivistic force of the “herd” as the driving force of progress. By means of that force the indisputable power of cosmos, and thus the power of the aristocracy which is its exclusive bearer, is dethroned, and the “animals in the herd” become superior, in the existential sense, to the parasitic classes. Hence it is no accident that Nietzsche devalues the productivistic practice of the workers and proclaims war the basic existential activity of the “overman”. Nietzsche: ” I recommend to you not work, but battle. I recommend to you not peace, but victory. Let your work be a battle, let your peace be a victory!” (98) According to Nietzsche’s existentialist intention, work represents the most important and the most valuable human activity. Nietzsche’s “overman” is, in the existential sense, in the worse position than the members of the despised “herd”. In spite of the aristocracy appearing as the incarnation of the cosmic power, its biological survival is ensured neither by art or philosophy nor by the sword or cross, but by the labour of the oppressed and despised “herd”. Nietzsche’s “overman” is an existential cripple. However, Nietzsche gives priority to the ownership of the means of production over work and tries to prove that the survival of the “weak” depends on the “strong”, from which follows that the “herd” is a burden that the aristocracy should get rid of without mercy. Nietzsche: “The weaker presses to the stronger from a need for nourishment; it wants to get under it, if possible to become one with it.” (99) This Nietzsche’s “discovery” completely corresponds to Coubertin’s theory according to which the “oppressed have always expected from their masters to provide the means of life”. (100) Coubertin despises work, but he does not hesitate to appropriate from the workers certain productive forces that appear in the forms of science and technique (as well as the natural forces embodied in techniques) and to turn them into the means of developing the conquering (oppressive) powers of the bourgeoisie and of exploiting nature – proclaiming the rich elite the bearers of “progress”.
In spite of insisting on art and philosophy, Nietzsche does not expect from his followers to take up the bow and the quill, but the whip and the sword: ability and readiness to kill a man represents the highest challenge both for Nietzsche’s “overman” and Coubertin’s “new man”. Nietzsche does not rely on those who are the cleverest and the most creative, but on the richest and the most unscrupulous. Like Coubertin, he thinks that the biggest obstacle to revolutions and socialism lies in “those who have possessions”, who are “of one mind on one article of faith”. (101) To justify their insatiable greed, Nietzsche uses the basest demagogy which he calls “the morality of development”: “One must possess something in order to be something. I should add one must want to have more than one has in order to become more”. (….) For this is the doctrine preached by life itself to all that has life: the morality of development”. (102) Nietzsche does not criticize the bourgeois because he does not practice art but because he “agreed” to transfer his oppressive power onto the social institutions and “progress” and thus offered to the “herd” the possibility of abolishing the class order. He calls on the rich to decisively cast off all the norms and institutions that hinder their power and reestablish a direct tyrannical power over the ever more numerous and politically conscious workers. Nietzsche attacks the “pallid hypocrisy…” with “mandarins at the top” of Comte’s type: “The barbarian in each of us is affirmed; also the wild beast. Precisely for that reason philosophers have a future.” (103) This Nietzsche’s critique only partly refers to Comte’s follower Coubertin, since it refers to the “second phase” of Comte’s work when he demonstrated an “altruistic” enthusiasm which Coubertin rejected with disgust.
In Nietzsche, there is no fight between races and between classes. The “will to power” is the exclusive quality of the “overman”, and it manifests itself as the oppressive power over the “herd”. In addition, “the will to power can manifest itself only against resistances; therefore it seeks that which resists it…” (104) The existence of the “herd”, which constantly multiplies and which represents a constant threat to the “overman”, is the “resistance” that should enable the rich elite to keep oppressively fit. Carried away by his oppressive enthusiasm Nietzsche writes: “A declaration of war on the masses by higher men is needed! Everywhere the mediocre are combining in order to make they master! Everything that makes soft and effeminate, that serves the ends of the “people” or the “feminine”, works in favor of suffrage universel, i.e., the dominion of inferior men. But we should take reprisal and bring this whole affair (which in Europe commenced with Christianity) to light and to the bar of judgment.” (105) Nietzsche goes as far as to calling on “the annihilation of millions of failures” who “have no right to existence, but are a misfortune to higher man”. (106) As a political realist, Coubertin does not share Nietzsche’s tyrannical fanatism and is close to Comte’s idea of the need for “reconciliation” between the ruling classes and the working “masses” as the ground on which “social peace” should be established. Coubertin realizes that the parasitic classes can only lose in an open conflict with the increasingly numerous and organized proletariat, and therefore seeks to pacify the oppressed and integrate them into the spiritual orbit of capitalism. However, it cannot be achieved by weakening the oppressive forces of the bourgeoisie and strengthening the defensive forces of the oppressed, but by the weaker masochistically flattering the stronger expecting to be rewarded by their “mercy”: dissatisfaction of the working “masses” turns into submission. Nietzsche speaks as a social surgeon; Coubertin speaks as a social prophylactic.
Nietzsche insists on the order of privileges and on the exclusiveness of the aristocratic spiritual sphere. He seeks to create not merely a master race whose sole task is to rule, but a race with its own sphere of life, with an “excess of strength for beauty, bravery, culture, manners to the highest peak of the spirit; an affirming race that may grant itself every great luxury…” (107) Hence the power of the aristocracy is not mediated by any forms of mental manipulation with the oppressed which include their integration into the spiritual orbit of the aristocracy. Nietzsche seeks to educate the aristocracy by way of imitation, and create an exclusive organic community; Coubertin, like Spencer, tries to create from society a conflicless community which functions as an organism. He follows the “universalistic” spirit of the bourgeoisie which seeks to include the “herd” into its spiritual orbit and thus “reconcile” it to the existing order of injustice. Gramsci: “The previous ruling classes were essentially conservative in that they did not strive to build an organic linkage with other classes, namely, to extend, “techniqually” and ideologically their class sphere; it is the conception of a closed caste. The bourgeois class posits itself as an organism which is in a constant flux, capable of absorbing the whole of society, adapting it to its cultural and economic level.” (108) Guided by that logic, Coubertin creates pedagogy for the “herd”. However, unlike Comte, he does not use only the “objective” scientific knowledge to create his positive one-mindedness, but strives to make use of the agonistic physical activism for a complete (character and spiritual) integration of the oppressed into the existing order. In his “sports republic” those deprived of rights learn how to accept an order ruled by the stronger and at the same time, through the principle of “greater effort” suppress their real needs and develop a masochistic character: through sport and physical drill man does not become only an enemy to others but also to oneself. Coubertin’s “education” of masses does not have an enlightening character, but seeks to combat the critical reason, and thus create from people a spiritual “herd”: “control in heads” of the oppressed is the alpha and omega of his “utilitarian pedagogy”. Instead of a Christian paradise and man’s “equality before God”, he offers a sport “spectacle” and “equality” in his “sports republic” based on the “objective” quantitative criteria. Like Christianity, Olympism becomes a global and universal religion which draws the oppressed into the spiritual orbit of capitalism through their irrational agonistic physical activism: the fight on the sports field should compensate for their renouncement of the fight for freedom. As for the victory of the oppressed over their masters, it should teach the oppressed how to respect the stronger, and thus strengthen the social order based on the principle “might is right”. “The sports republic” is an exclusive political tool of the parasitic classes, a peculiar ideological cudgel and not a means for man’s emancipation. For Nietzsche, a competition between the members of the “new nobility” and the “herd” according to the rules that apply to all is unthinkable. Only such competition which is the privilege of the aristocracy is acceptable and that means the struggle for victory which is not mediated by the progressivistic principle citus, altius, fortius. In other words, the ancient Olympic Games and the ancient gymnastics are acceptable for Nietzsche, but not the modern Games (sport) governed by the principle of “equality of chances”, where the fight between the contestants is mediated by “progress” reduced to a quantitative comparation.
Nietzsche anticipated the destructive nature of capitalist “progress”. He sees in “progress” not only a parallel process of existence, but a process opposed to the cosmic laws and thus to man’s biological survival: “progress” occurs outside man, since man loses its life force. In the development of the productive forces Nietzsche does not see a possibility of man’s liberation from his dependance on nature, as is the case in Marx, but the destruction of man’s natural being. He greatly contributed to the recognition of the antibiological (entiexistential) character of “Western civilisation” born at the moment when Socrates created from reason a tool with which he questioned the unity of ancient man with the universe. Nietzsche also opens the possibility of man’s disappearance, but it does not happen through a technical but through an organic sphere, which becomes the form in which man turns into his original cosmic prebeing. Nietzsche’s glorification of the body in relation to the spirit ultimately serves to prove man’s worthlessness in relation to the “organic”: “Put briefly: perhaps the entire evolution of the spirit is a question of the body; it is the history of the development of a higher body that emerges into our sensibility. The organic is rising to yet higher levels. Our lust for knowledge of nature is a means through which the body desires to perfect itself. (…) In the long run, it is not a question of man at all: he is to be overcome.” (109) According to Nietzsche, in the human body, “the most distant and most recent past of all organic development again becomes living and corporeal.” Through and over and beyond the human body “a tremendous inaudible stream seems to flow… ” (110) The body is a specific form of the existence of cosmic energy and a direct form of the activity of cosmic laws. Coubertin’s view is similar: his “new man” embodies the expansionist power of capitalism and thus is the manifestation of “progress”. Here we should say that Nietzsche’s reducing man to the organic level and his returning to the cosmic origin render the question of the apocalyptic nature of Christianity and capitalism meaningless: essentially, Nietzsche’s cosmological conception is also fatalistic.
In the “desire for freedom” Nietzsche sees a “concealed form of the will to power”, (111) which means deception by which the “herd” tries to defeat the ruling class. Like Coubertin, Nietzsche rejects the guiding principles of the French Revolution: man is not born free, but as the master or the slave depending on the class he belongs to. For Nietzsche, freedom is not the right of man, but the privilege of the aristocracy and it is possible only if the “overman’s” affective nature gets rid of the traces of civilization, which means that in him the cosmic laws can freely operate. The climax of the “overman’s” freedom is the abolishment of the last restraints that inhibit his affective nature and his complete unification with the cosmic being. The basic form in which the freedom of the parasitic classes is realized is a ruthless oppression of the “herd”, and the development of their tyrannical power becomes the measure of their freedom: the development of the “overman’s” “will to power” turns into the struggle with the will to freedom of the oppressed. Nietzsche does not hide that. For him “slavery” and “many degrees of bondage” are “a precondition of every higher culture”, (112) and thus also of art which liberates man’s affective nature and enables a free pulsation of the cosmic energy in man. That is why Nietzsche mercilessly deals with the historical struggle of the oppressed against tyranny: “Disobedience – that is the nobility of slaves.” (113) The fight of the oppressed for freedom becomes the confirmation of their slavery and not of their libertarian nature: those who fight to change their social position do not deserve to be called “men”. At the same time, the fight for freedom against the aristocratic tyranny represents the fight against the cosmic order embodied in the aristocracy. It is the same in Coubertin: the fight of the oppressed for freedom against the rich “elite” has an antievolutionary and antiexistential character, since the bourgeoisie is the embodiment of “progress” without which mankind is doomed. However, it is in Nietzsche that the spirit of rebellion against the existing world is present and it is the most valuable part in his philosophy. Following that intention, Bloch sees in “Nietzsche’s Dionysus” “rebellion” and “dawning”, and brings him in “close relation” with Prometheus “who stole the light”, while in his philosophy he sees a “glow, serenity and lightness” and a road to a “new, lighter mankind”. (114) The contradiction of Nietzsche’s conception lies in the fact that the strength of the “elite” can be tested and proved only if the oppressed strive for freedom. If the oppressed voluntarily renounce such strivings and readily accept their social position, in the way Nietzsche’s expects them to do, than the order is not grounded on the oppressive “will to power” of the “elite” any more, but on the will of the oppressed not to oppose tyranny. Just as in Huizinga the unfortunate masses serve to create an emotional tension in his picture of the Middle Ages and depict the “colorfulness” of the human, so for Nietzsche the workers deprived of rights serve to prove and strengthen the “will to power” of his “overman”. Only in this way a “passionate” submission, oppression and destruction become possible. As for Coubertin, he clearly states that, with a complete supremacy of the bourgeoisie in the world and a definite destruction of the wish for freedom and the hope of a just social order, the world will be dominated by “eternal peace” – but the fight for a place under the sun will not cease.
Unlike Marx, Nietzsche does not depart from man as a universal creative being of freedom, but from the idealized model of an aristocrat-tyrant. Hence in Nietzsche the dominant instinct is not libertarian but oppressive. Nietzsche’s “overman” personifies the apsolutized power of the “elite” over the “herd”, which is executed directly and which by no means can be questioned. By appealing to the “eternal recurrence of the same events” (ewige Wiederkunft) he does not appeal to the oppressed to abolish a tyrannical order, but to the parasitic classes to combat the democratic institutions and establish an order governed by a “new nobility”, similarly to the one in ancient Greece before the appearance of demos on the political arena. Like Nietzsche, Coubertin understands the “will to power” as the will of the “elite” to oppress the “masses”, and not the will to move the masses to achieve certain political, economical, national or racial goals. In that sense, fascism, which insists on a “mobilization of masses”, is opposed to Nietzsche’s aristocratic and Coubertin’s bourgeois-plutocratic elitism. The populist nature of fascism, in which the strength of the “overman” becomes the strength of the masses (“Ein Volk – ein Führer!”), creates an unbridgeable gap between Nietzsche’s and Nazi elitism, but also between Nietzsche’s and Jacobean and Bolshevik avant-gardism that seek to move the “masses” in order to abolish the oppressive order and create a just society. In order to achieve “national” aims, behind which the colonial interests of the bourgeoisie are hidden, Coubertin seeks to “mobilize” the “masses” by way of racism and nationalism, and not by their militarization, as is the case with the Nazis, but strictly within the role they have as workers. In spite of Coubertin’s insistence on racism and nationalism, the class order is an indisputable foundation of social structuring.
Like Coubertin, Nietzsche reduces “life” to a looting order and proclaims its inhuman qualities the virtues of the “overman”: “In great men, the specific qualities of life – injustice, falsehood, exploitation – are at their greatest.” (115) Nietzsche does not call on the rich “elite” to create a new world, but to renounce all the scruples and, in the fight against the increasingly numerous and class conscious “herd”, apply all the means that will insure the existence of the parasitic classes. Speaking of the morality of the “ruling caste”, which should become the “future masters of the earth”, Nietzsche says that it involves “severity”, “violence”, “the art of experiment” – which appears in Zarathustra – “devilry of all kinds”, “inequality of rights”, “concealment”. (116) Fromm’s analyses of the psychological profile of a Renaissance nobleman, which is for Nietzsche the symbol of a “strong time”, enables us to understand the psychological portrait of Nietzsche’s “overman”: “They enjoyed more freedom, but were also lonelier. They used their power and wealth to draw from life every last bit of pleasure, while at the same time they had to mercilessly use all the means, from torturing to psychological manipulation, in order to rule the masses and stop the competitors within their own class. All human relations were poisoned by the life and death struggle to preserve power and wealth. Instead of man’s solidarity with his neighbors – or at least with the members of the same class – came a cynically-indifferent attitude; man viewed other individuals as ‘objects’ which had to be utilized, manipulated or mercilessly destroyed, if it suited their ends. The individual was overwhelmed by a passionate egocentrism, insatiable lust for power and wealth”, as well as by a “passionate desire for fame”. (117) Nietzsche does not depart from man as an independent personality, but from the model of the “aristocrat” and the “worker” (slave). The basis of a person’s distinctiveness and individuality is not his individual spiritual wealth, but his social position, i.e., the class status according to which the distinction (“extreme”) is determined. Consequently, Nietzsche does not speak of the relations between people, but of the relations between classes.
Nietzsche seeks to create his “overman” by means of art and philosophy: the synthesis of an artistic sensibility and a philosophical mind give a specific character to the “overman’s” “will to power”. In Coubertin, instead of art we find an abuse of the artistic form as a decoration designed to produce a psychological effect. If we start from Coubertin’s “Ode to Sport”, (118) as the highest form of his Olympic poetics, we shall see that its symbolism is crude, unimaginative, pompous… It is full of all sorts of terms with which Coubertin seeks to create a poetical curtain for his Olympic primitivism. It is dominated by the principle of disguise which should give the menagerie a “humanistic” veil: “international cooperation” becomes an excuse for war between countries on the sports fields; a ”fine manly sport” for bloody boxing matches etc. The tyranny of the “elite” appears in the form of humanistic phrases which should conceal their true nature and make people believe that they are the highest peak the human can attain. For Nietzsche, art is an expression of man’s affective nature and thus the embodiment of man’s overflowing life force. His aesthetics involves the abolishment of all the norms which could restrict the “will to power”. Hence an unbridled, explosive expressivity becomes the basic characteristic of art. Nietzsche maintains that everything is allowed, including drugs, which brings man into a state of “intoxication” when his affective nature becomes fully expressed, and that involves a free pulsation of the creative-destructive powers of the cosmic forces: the energetic cosmic waves make man’s playing being. While Nietzsche insists on art as the means for removing the barriers which prevent the realization of man’s affective nature, Coubertin insists on sport and physical drill as the means for removing man’s instinctive and affective nature and for creating an impersonal muscular storm trooper of capital. For him, sport is a means for uniting man with the capitalist cosmos dominated by a progressistic and expansionist spirit. Unlike Nietzsche’s cosmological conception, which does not have an instrumental and utilitarian character and in which things happen the way they do, because they are as they are and cannot be different, in Coubertin’s evolutionist conception man is only a tool for facilitating “progress”.
While Nietzsche’s “overman” obtains the energy to develop the “will to power” from a free realization of his affective nature, Coubertin’s “positive man” obtains his energy from the fight with his original natural and human needs. Admiring the masochistic séances of “saint” Colomban, Coubertin states that he does not do that primarily because he wants to “secure a place in Heaven”, but to “preserve within himself that wonderful energy from which his work emerged and gave him an encouraging performance”. (119) Torturing one’s own body represents the highest challenge for his pedagogy intended for the 20th century. The relation of Coubertin’s positive man to others, as well as to himself, is mediated by the progressistic spirit of capitalism which appears in the form of the principle of “greater effort”: not the aristocratic heritage, but the growing power of the capitalist monopolies, expressed in a dehumanized science and technique, represents the origin of the “will to power” of Coubertin’s “new man”. In Coubertin, the spirit, which is the realization of the spirit of the ruling order in man (“progress”), has priority over the body, which is an instrument for achieving the given ends and the source of energy. Coubertin has no respect for man’s instinctive nature nor does he depart from it, but a fanatical consciousness (“spirit”) becomes the means for crippling it (above all, Eros) and for developing a merciless oppressive-masochistic character. For Coubertin, man is by nature a “lazy beast” ruled by the principle of “lesser effort”. Sports should develop in him the will for “greater effort” and create from him a peculiar super-beast. “Disciplining the body” turns into a combat with instincts, senses, imagination – and the creation of a positive character. With this Coubertin is closest to Christianity and furthest from Nietzsche. Coubertin’s view that “the soul needs to torture the body in order to make it more submissive” (120) represents for Nietzsche the worst of blasphemy. In Nietzsche, torturing is not a universal superhuman principle to which people are hopelessly submitted, but a privilege of the “overman” and it does not relate to his body, but exclusively to the “herd”. His “will to power” does not admit of the masochistic principle of “greater effort” which underlies Coubertin’s “utilitarian pedagogy”. Nietzsche: “Behind your thoughts and feelings, my brother, there is a mighty lord, an unknown sage – it is called Self; it dwells in your body, it is your body.” (121) “The creating Self created for itself respect and contempt; it created for itself pleasure and pain. The creative body created the mind as a hand for its will.” (122) Nietzsche’s ideal of a “creative body” does not affirm man as a (self) creative free being; it affirms the cosmic laws of creation and destruction which pulsate in man making him a toy of cosmic forces. At the same time, Nietzsche calls upon his “brothers” to hear the “voice of the healthy body”: “Hearken rather, my brothers, to the voice of the healthy body; it is a more honest and pure voice. More honestly and purely speaks the healthy body, perfect and square-built; and it speaks of the meaning of the earth.” (123) Coubertin despises the healthy body, speaking of it as a preoccupation of the “weak”, and exalts the muscular body in combative exertion as a symbolic incarnation of the expansionist (“progressive”) power of the ruling order.
As far as philosophy is concerned, Nietzsche criticizes the German schools since in them “one no longer has any idea” of the necessity of “learning to think”. Thinking requires “a technique, a teaching curriculum, and a will to mastery.” (124) By dealing with Socrates’ “morbid mind” (Sloterdijk), Nietzsche opens the possibility of establishing a true mind, while Coubertin seeks to abolish the mind and reduce it to a dehumanized and instrumentalized ratio. Coubertin departs from the view that the ancient Greeks were “little given to contemplation, even less bookish” and proclaims it the chief pedagogical principle which he seeks to introduce in French schools. Upbringing without education and the creation of a muscular body and a combative character (mens fervida in corpore lacertoso) – that is the basis of his “utilitarian pedagogy”. Coubertin’s conception is not only antiemancipatory but, unlike Nietzsche’s philosophy, it is anticultural. Coubertin deprived his bourgeois “elite” not only of every human responsibility for their actions, as Nietzsche did with his aristocratic “elite”, but also of its creative power. Coubertin’s positive bourgeois is not only immoral, but also unreasonable and unaesthetic. Instead of Nietzsche’s aristocratic “elite”, which in its “will to power” is guided by aesthetics, comes the bourgeois “elite”, which in its will to submit the whole world is guided by Social Darwinism and progressism. Nietzsche “overcame” the gap between upbringing and education by abolishing the normative sphere: the aristocratic heritage is not transferred from one generation to another through a normative model, but through living in an aristocratic community, whereas aesthetics, which is based on imitation, represents the main connecting thread. The starting point of Coubertin’s pedagogical conception are not mimetic impulses of the aristocratic community as an organic community, but the “circumstances” that appear in the form of the “war of all against all”. Unlike Nietzsche, who departs from the aristocratic community as a cultural community, Coubertin departs from the animalistic heritage of man and seeks to “overcome” it by the instrumentalized principle of “greater effort”, embodied in sport and physical exercise, as the form in which the instrumentalized and alienated natural forces appear, and which expresses a progressistic and expansionist nature of monopolistic capitalism.
While Nietzsche insists on the inherited aristocratic status exclusivity, for Coubertin, the factor of inheritance is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for a person to acquire a master status: he has to affirm himself in the everyday struggle for existence. Nietzsche advocates a statical aristocratic world, while Coubertin advocates a dynamic (expansionist) bourgeois world. It is most obviously manifested in physical aesthetics: while Nietzsche insists on the aristocratic principle ordre et mesure, Coubertin insists on the progressistic principle mens fervida in corpore lacertoso. In Nietzsche, aesthetics is of primary importance in upbringing (education), unlike Coubertin, for whom the insistence on the aristocratic manners represents a restraint for the expansionist and “progressive” nature of the bourgeois. In Nietzsche, we find an explicit evaluative apriorism which does not have a normative, but a mimetic character. The reasonable-ethical apriorism in Kant, in whom Nietzsche sees the spiritual reincarnation of Socrates, appears in Nietzsche as an aesthetic apriorism: the strict reasonable-ethical principles are replaced by an even stronger aesthetic form. Nietzsche: “In Athens, in the time of Cicero (who expresses his surprise about this), the men and youths were far superior in beauty to the women. But what work and exertion in the service of beauty had the male sex there imposed on itself for centuries! For one should make no mistake about the method in this case: a breeding of feelings and thoughts alone is almost nothing (this is the great misunderstanding underlying German education, which is wholly illusory), one must first persuade the body. Strict perseverance in significant and exquisite gestures together with the obligation to live only with people who do not ‘let themselves go’ – that is quite enough for one to become significant and exquisite, and in two or three generations all this becomes inward. It is decisive for the lot of a people and of humanity that culture should begin in the right place – not in the ‘soul’ (as was the fateful superstition of the priests and half-priests): the right place is the body, the gesture, the diet, physiology; the rest follows from that. Therefore the Greeks remain the first cultural event in history: they knew, they did, what was needed; and Christianity, which despised the body, has been the greatest misfortune of humanity so far.” (125) Thomas Mann’s critique of Nietzsche (126) misses the point: it is precisely Nietzsche’s pedagogy that offers a far greater opportunity for controlling the instincts than the one achieved through the development of a moral conscious and an instrumentalized (dehumanized) reason. In addition, Nietzsche does not reject reason: his aesthetics is a form in which a relation to the world grounded in reason appears. Nietzsche’s insisting on a “strict observation of significant and selected gestures”, on a “duty to live only with such people who are not libertine”, suggests a rational moral ground of Nietzsche’s aesthetics, as well as an apparent spontaneity, and that means the playing. Spontaneity is not expressed in a person’s creativeness and thus in the development of relations between people (the playing community), but in the manner in which the normative scheme is learned (uncritically adopted), which becomes the basis and the criterion of an elitist exclusivity (“to become important and chosen”). Instead of a reasonable upbringing, a physical (bodily) upbringing is established which represents an indisputable aesthetic model learned by imitation (“to do what is neccesary”) without the mediation of reason (critical reasoning). At the same time, imitation has a ritual character (“a strict observation of significant and selected gestures”), which points to a liturgical component of his aesthetics, similarly to the agonal physical activity in ancient gymnasium. The aristocratic worldview and the aristocratic morality make the basis of Nietzsche’s aesthetics (pedagogy), while Nietzsche’s pedagogical model presupposes the life of “the significant and the chosen”, which means that to belong to the (aristocratic) “elite” is conditio sine qua non of his pedagogy: an organic community is the basis of a spiritual community. For Nietzsche, “life is a play” (Mann), but its rules and its form cannot be questioned. Actually, it is an absolutisation of the aristocratic worldview and the aristocratic morality in a strict aesthetic pattern. That, according to Nietzsche, “life can be justified only as an aesthetic phenomenon” (Mann) means that real life is the one which is lived behind the curtain of his aesthetics. Nietzsche instrumentalized aesthetics in the same way in which Coubertin instrumentalized mysticism: it became a means for integrating man into the existing order by destroying his critical conscious.
Like Nietzsche, Coubertin realized the importance of the (unconscious) physical movement in building man’s character and conscious. In Coubertin, also, an unreasonable agonistic physical activism represents the basis on which man’s character, and thus the corresponding normative conscious, are built. Upbringing is acquired by living the life of a bourgeois, which is reduced to a constant and merciless struggle for survival and domination, imposed by the ruling logic of life. Coubertin does not depart from aristocratic society with its cultural tradition and exclusivity, but from society as a natural environment governed by the law of natural selection. Hence, instead of an imitation of exclusive aesthetic canons, a behaviour conditioned by a struggle for survival, which is not limited by any norms, represents the basic way of a man’s upbringing. In Nietzsche, acquiring the character of the master is conditioned by the development of a Dionysian nature and the aesthetic sense, while in Coubertin, such character is acquired through a behaviour which spontaneously follows the logic of natural selection – from which follows the “improvement” of man. Art is not the main means for developing man’s Dionysian nature and strengthening his “will to power”, as is the case in Nietzsche, but is a decoration of a primitive agonal physical activism which is the embodiment of the spirit of monopolistic capitalism. In Nietzsche, the possibility of the creation of a normative model of upbringing that could be applied even to those who do not belong to the aristocracy, is abolished. The aristocratic upbringing becomes the privilage of the ruling class and thus an insurmountable obstacle that for ever separates the “elite” from the “herd”. Coubertin offers to the oppressed a “sports republic” and, starting from the nature of the relations in sport that correspond to the relations in society, tries to teach them to accept the established social order of injustice. The creation of a combatant character ceases to be the privilage of the parasitic classes and becomes the “right” of the oppressed. As we have seen, Coubertin is well aware of the consequent danger and, therefore, in “giving the right” to the workers to compete with their masters on the sports field he sees only a temporary measure which, at the moments of crisis for capitalism, should drive the workers away from the political battlefield and preserve “social peace”.
Speaking of the Hellenic cosmos, Anica Savić-Rebac states that the Greeks “were able to create it primarily because they were unaware of the modern distinctions between the aesthetical, the ethical and the intellectual. One undivided man lived in all three realms, uncounsciously and without thinking of the possibility of such distinctions …”. (127) Nietzsche speaks in a similar way. Striving to create a “synthetic man”, Nietzsche sees in the “man of antiquity” (128) the highest type of man, since he was the closest, in the form of the ancient gods, to his cosmic essence. Coubertin also tries to “deal” with man’s fragmentation, which is a consequence of the division of labour, and through man’s (re)integration reconcile him to the existing world by crippling all that can raise him above the existing world and developing all that can enable the development of that world. Instead of opting for man as a universal creative being, Coubertin opts for a universal manipulation of man on the part of the existing order; instead of a totalisation of the world through man’s universal libertarian and creative practice, Coubertin insists on a totalisation of the world by the ruling “elite’s” tyranny and on the creation of a positive one-mindedness. Unlike Coubertin, who relies on the expansionist power of capitalism, Nietzsche counts on “the energy of the totality of becoming” that “rises to a high point and sinks down again in an eternal circle.” This “will to power” expresses itself “in the interpretation, in the manner in which force is used up; transformation of energy into life, and ‘life at its highest potency’, thus appears as the goal. The same amount of energy means different things at different stages of evolution.”(129) Nietzsche sees in art the highest form of the “transformation of energy to life”. (130) That is why music has such importance for him, especially Wagner, in whose works Nietzsche recognized a magnificent thundering of the cosmic powers. Nietzsche insists on art as a creative act in which man’s affective nature explodes, while Coubertin insists on the effect that a work of art has on people: the Olympic aesthetics appears as a “cultural” form of man’s ritual insemination with the spirit of capitalism. Coubertin’s appeal to the “immortal spirit of antiquity” has nothing in common with Nietzsche’s principle of the “eternal recurrence”. Nietzsche sought to reconcile the Apollonian and Dionysian principles; Coubertin, as a devoted Procrustean follower, “reconciled” Apollo and Dionysus by depriving Apollo of reason, and Dionysus of Eros. Guided by the utilitarian principle, which is embodied in the positivist maxim savoir pour prevoir, prevoir pour agir, he instrumentalizes ratio, abolishes reason, imagination, the poetical. Coubertin is congenial to Rosenberg’s concept- ions from his “The Myth of the Twentieth Century”, in which he deals with Dionysus as the god of “ecstasy, licentiousness, frantic maenadism”, of all that is strange to a “pure” and “asexual” racial being of the Hellenes. (131) Nietzsche mocks, in the form of Comte’s philistine, the model petty-bourgeois as a symbol of the Modern Age, who is sterilized (incapable of thinking, loving, admiring…) and whose life is reduced to performing the imposed roles. This man corresponds to Coubertin’s model of “positive man”, who lacks reason and Eros.
Nietzsche’s philosophy corresponds to Coubertin’s “positive state” as long as it deals both with the “theological” and “metaphysical” phase in the development of mankind and with the critical reason and the idea of future. Unlike Comte, Nietzsche insists on art and philosophy and opposes the tyranny of facts. Nietzsche is a strong opponent of the objectivistic and absolutistic scientific knowledge, as the source of the positive one-mindedness to which man is submitted. Departing from the thesis that the scientist is “the sheep in the realm of knowledge”, (132) Nietzsche criticizes Hyppolite Taine and “other Frenchmen” who “inquire, or think they inquire, without being already in possession of a standard of values”, and in their “prostration before ‘facts’,” he sees “a kind of a cult.” “In reality”, claims Nietzsche, “they destroy the existing evaluations.” (133) Criticizing Socrates, Nietzsche concludes: “One cannot promote the right way of life through science: wisdom does not make ‘wise’.” (134) Relying on Comte and Le Play, Coubertin insists on positive science and Taine’s principle: “Taisons-nous, obeissons, vivons dans la science!” Unlike Nietzsche’s “joy of knowledge”, in Coubertin is dominant a positivistic method of knowledge expressed in the maxim savoir pour prevoir, prevoir pour agir, which has an aprioristic, instrumental and reductionist character, and the aim of which is to abolish the cultural heritage and create a positive one-mindedness. At the same time, Coubertin seeks to create a positive character and therefore tries to reach the innermost part of man’s soul by instrumentalizing myths and illusions. According to Nietzsche, Coubertin’s Olympic doctrine would be the “hypocrisy of false scientific manners”. (135)
The endeavour to abolish all mediation between man and the world, preventing him from being in the everyday life united with his human powers, represents one of the most fruitful ideas in Nietzsche’s philosophy. In that context, Nietzsche, similarly to Marx, seeks to abolish the spheres in which man’s powers are alienated from him and to realize ”the synthetic man” in contrast to the ”fragmentary man”. “The will to power” becomes an appeal to fight for the original human powers which have been alienated from man during the reign of Christianity and in the Modern Age. That is why Nietzsche seeks to return to the time when man was not yet separated from the world (cosmos) and when the normative mould which became the basis for determining “the human” was not yet created. Pointing out that in the world of antiquity there reigned “a more lordly morality than today”, Nietzsche says that “the man of antiquity” has so far been the only “man that has turned out well”. (136) And he continues: “One is no longer at home anywhere; at last one longs back for that place in which one would want to be at home: the Greek world!” (137) It is no accident that Nietzsche glorifies the man of antiquity as a complete man and presents him in a romantic light. He was indeed incomparably more complete than the modern man, since in the antiquity there were no spheres of science, techniques, art and philosophy in which his powers were alienated from him and thus confronted with his natural being. Marx says on that: “The universal developments of an individual, whose social relations are as their own, common relations also subjected to their own common control, are not the product of nature, but of history. The level and universality of the development of forces when that individuality becomes possible presupposes the production based on the exchange of values, which only with the universality of the alienation of an individual from himself and from others produces both the universality and the diversity of his relations and capabilities. At the earliest stages of development an individual appears complete precisely because he did not develop the fullness of his relations and did not oppose it to himself as independent social forces and relations. Just as it is ridiculous to crave for that original fullness, so it is ridiculous to believe that we must remain with this complete emptiness. The bourgeois view has never gone further from the opposition to the romantic and that is why the romantic view as a legitimate contrast will follow him to his blessed end.” (138) Nietzsche abolishes mediation in order to return to man his alienated powers, but then his creative and libertarian capabilities become the powers alienated from him, which in the form of the “overman” appear as a tyrannical practice. Nietzsche’s endeavour to abolish the “fragmentary” and create the “synthetic” man becomes the endeavour to totalize the world – in which there is no place for freedom, nor for the idea of future – through an uncompromising oppressive activism of the “overman”, which returns man to his cosmic pre-being. Coubertin abolishes mediation in order to finally abolish all those human qualities that are at odds with the model of his positive man – and thus obtain a “pure material” (Hitler) with which he will be able to meet the demands set to him by “progress”. Instead of Nietzsche’s “synthetic” man, Coubertin offers a positive man, who is devoid of Eros, of creativeness, of imagination: the nature of capitalist “progress” becomes the nature of man. Like Nietzsche, Coubertin does not want to abolish all forms of mediation between man and his life so as to liberate man from the bonds of the bourgeois world, but to remove the obstacles which question the realization of a complete and final domination of the ruling class over the “herd”. Drawing on positivism and Jesuitism, as well as on the spirit of capitalist expansion, Coubertin with his positive man brought the process of man’s fragmantisation and emptying to its end. His “new man”, as the embodiment of the maxim mens fervida in corpore lacertoso, is deprived both of his natural and of his cultural being. Coubertin’s absolutisation of the progressistic nature of capitalism, which is dominated by quantity, is the form in which “technical civilization” deals with man’s natural being. It is no accident that Coubertin found the inspiration for his Olympic aesthetics at the great industrial exhibitions. He, like the Nazis, insists on the “iron body”, while in the “peace-loving aestheticians” he sees the same as Hitler – “physical degenerates”. Unlike Nietzsche, who seeks to reaffirm quality by giving primary importance to the aesthetical, Coubertin departs from the absolutised principle of performance and quantitative comparison. At the same time, the principle of “greater effort” does not mean passivity and “wasting” the energy on the restriction of man’s instinctive nature, but the transformation of man’s instinctive nature, especially his erotic energy, into a conquering (oppressive) activism – an instinct for domination. Nietzsche insists on the aristocratic heritage as the original source of the “will to power”, while “modern” Coubertin, in the progressistic spirit of capitalism based on the development of a dehumanized science and technique, sees the source of the totalitarian power of the bourgeoisie. Nietzsche insists on the forces that man has within himself; Coubertin insists on the forces that are alienated from man in the form of science and technology and creates from them the main levers of “progress” – in the hands of the rich. Contrary to Nietzsche’s “eternal recurrence” to the original humanity (cosmic being), Coubertin’s “progress” is the road to nothingness and destruction: the Olympic doctrine is not only antilibertarian, it is also antiexistential.
Instead of Coubertin’s “dialectic”, which is established in “progress”, and Socrates’ dialectic, which is established in thinking, (139) Nietzsche’s dialectic is established in the “overman”, in confronting the Apollonian and the Dionysian, which leads to the development of his “will to power”. Nietzsche’s “overman” is the model of an aristocrat and symbolizes the unity of the aristocracy as the master class as opposed to the ever more numerous and politically (class) conscious “herd”. The variety of his qualities forms the fullness of his being that represents a synthesized force of “the will to power”. However, in Nietzsche, the Apollonian and the Dionysian exist as two forces independent of man: man is not their origin, but their incarnation. Nietzsche’s man of antiquity, who is the only one who “has turned out well”, is actually a totally empty man to whom gods (temporarily) give their qualities. Gods’ richness and their confronted qualities, which represent the life force of cosmos, make the fullness of the human and its dynamics. In him, the Dionysian and the Apollonian principles are confronted: life and form, cosmos and its human appearance are united. Hence Nietzsche abolishes every normative concept which mediates between man and cosmos and which limits his “will to power” and in that context he deals with Socrates who appears as the symbol of man’s self-understanding through the sphere of mind: the very “will to power” produces the “human”. However, not only did Socrates, by deceit, by his “midwifery” (maieutike), draw man out of his cosmic womb, but he cut the umbilical cord that connected him with the cosmos and thus prevented the flow of the cosmic energy into man, thereby convicting him to weakening and destruction. Nietzsche’s “overman” is homo natura (140) and thus a peculiar cosmic “terminator” whose task is to destroy all forms of mediation which prevent the flow of the cosmic energy into man and to which his life force is transferred. It is an endeavour to purify the world from the layers of history, which started with Socrates, who cut the life bond connecting man to the cosmos and thus marked the beginning of his historical ”Odyssey” – that has an antiexistential character. That role Nietzsche assigned to the “new nobility”, which carries out the project of the “re-evaluation” of all historically created values (Umwertung aller Werte), since it is not degenerated by labour and in it, through its belligerent (oppressive) activity, corresponding to the basic cosmic law, the original life force is preserved. Its task is to destroy everything that is “weak” and to deal with the emancipatory heritage of mankind which represents the worst form of cosmic pathology. The nature of Coubertin’s “new man” is similar to the nature of Nietzsche’s “overman”: he is the incarnation of the oppressive spirit of the parasitic classes and thus the tool with which “progress” destroys the emancipatory heritage of mankind and enables a free development of capitalism.
Coubertin’s and Nietzsche’s doctrines are similar in their insistance on “the strengthening of the type, the ability for great willing….” (141) However, while for Coubertin “the higher people” are those who incarnate “progress” conditioned by the expansionist force of monopolistic capitalism, Nietzsche considers the higher people those who fully express the richness of forms and the contradictions of man’s instinctive being. While Coubertin’s “new man” is a capitalistically transmuted beast, Nietzsche’s “overman” is a cosmic being without any civilisatory barriers that limit the flow and the effect of cosmic energy. For Nietzsche, the “will to power” is not a form in which the natural laws of evolution manifest themselves in man (“might is right”, ”natural selection”), as it is in Coubertin, but it appears as an expression of the cosmic energy whose exclusive bearer is the aristocracy. Like in ancient Greece, the highest challenge of Nietzsche’s eurhythmics is to be united with the cosmic being, with the domination of the “feeling of one’s own strength”. It is no accident that Nietzsche recommends the use of drugs: all the things that enable the development of man’s affective nature and the breakage of chains, which appear in the form of a historical and moral (self) conscious, with which civilization chained man’s affective being, are welcome. Man’s affective nature becomes the umbilical cord through which the cosmic energy “flows” into the “overman”, who is the working force of the “will to power”. The “eternal recurrence” is the return of the (over)man to his cosmic (pre)being, and that means to the original and absolute “will to power” as an expression of the struggle for domination in its original sense. Nietzsche’s “overman” is the embodiment of the cosmic order – the highest form in which pulsate life and death, creation and destruction – which includes the whole cosmic firmament that once belonged to the Olympic gods: he becomes a symbolic incarnation of the working force of the cosmic order on earth and is thus its master, a peculiar God-man who mediates between cosmos and life on earth. Through the totalitarian tyrannical practice of the “overman” the earthly order becomes the realization of the cosmic order. Instead of the divine light, the “overman” is infused by the cosmic rays: “the will to power” is the cosmic “holy spirit” incarnated in the “overman”. Hence the “overman” is so self-confident: while Christ represents an imaginary God, Zarathustra is the representative of the cosmic forces. Nietzsche declared the death of the divine and a new birth of the cosmic order. An illusionary world, which existed in people’s heads, is replaced by a real cosmic world which “flows” in the body. Man has not only opened his eyes again, he again experienced his cosmic being. While for Coubertin the capitalist cosmos is a natural environment of his “new man”, for Nietzsche, Zarathustra’s cave symbolizes the cosmic foundation of the “overman”: it is his true home.
Speaking of Nietzsche’s conception of time, according to which “the tyranny of becoming over being must cease if man wants to come to his self in the world which is really his own”, Marcuse concludes: “Man comes to his self only when transcendence is overcome – when eternity has become present here and now. Nietzsche’s conception ends with a vision of a closed circle – not progress, but ‘eternal recurrence’.” (142) Nietzsche does not distinguish between false and true being and he abolishes the historical becoming which is the way of liberation of the working “masses” from the tyranny of the parasitic classes. The true being does not only mean the “eternal building of the home of being” (Nietzsche), but also that the home is not a prison but the space of human freedom. Nietzsche’s “eternal recurrence” is a “complete affirmation of life instincts” (Marcuse), not of man, but of the aristocracy embodied in the “overman”, its basic “life instinct”, as a parasitic class, being the looting of the working classes, and not the development of man’s creative powers: it results from man’s social position, and not from his instinctive structure. In order to release the “will to power”, which is still the “prisoner” (Marcuse) of time, Zarathustra expects his believers to purify themselves from the emancipatory heritage of mankind, which means from everything that stops them from oppressing and devastating the increasingly numerous “herd”, and that primarily means from the view that every man is entitled to freedom, and that all people are equal and should live on their labour. By criticizing Christianity Nietzsche seeks to abolish eternity which, by being “transfered to a transcendental world”, became an “instrument of suppression”, (143) and to establish a direct oppression of the “herd” by the aristocracy, destroying the idea of a just world and a hope of a better world. Nietzsche’s return of eternity to the “good earth”, which involves the “eternal return of its children, of lily and rose, of the sun in the hills and lakes, of the lover and loving, of the fear for their life, of pain and happiness” (144) – represents the privilage of the master class and means the final renunciation of the oppressed of their fight for freedom and justice: earth is “good” only for advocates of the tyrannical power. By insisting on transferring the eternity from becoming to being Nietzsche abolishes history: every man should find a place in the existing world starting from his class, race and gender. Nietzsche seeks to liberate man from history, but he does not think of questioning its heritage: class society, property relations based on the domination of the past over the living labour, as well as the patriarchal order – which are the products of history. Nietzsche’s being represents the reproduction and immortalisation of the oppressive tradition of the parasitic classes and a combat with the emancipatory heritage of mankind which offers a possibility of the creation of a just world. He, like Coubertin, tries to sterilize capitalism and destroy the germ of a novum which is created in it. The existing structure of society becomes a concrete-historical bearer of Nietzsche’s abstract being grounded in cosmic processes. Nietzsche criticizes time as man’s closure in the past, but it does not prevent him from idealizing the past in which the “herd” was not present on the political scene. He does not remove all historical vestiges, but he removes the historical road and thus avoids the answer to the question how the “only complete man” in ancient Greece became the member of the Christian “herd”? Or, what kind of time is the “strong time” – from which the weak time springs? It is a political instrumentalisation of the historical heritage and an endeavour to destroy man’s hope of a better world. By abolishing the idea of progress, Nietzsche abolishes history and future and thus abolishes man as a creative and libertarian being. Like Coubertin, Nietzsche seeks to stop history at the point when the working class became an organised political force capable of abolishing the tyranny of the parasitic classes and the class order. History tells us that the will to power of the working “masses” repeatedly overcomes the will to power of the tyrant and that their fight for freedom is the basic feature of history and a historical form of the eternal recurrance. It is no accident that Nietzsche seeks to abolish history: it is a “miraculous mirror” reflecting the road to destruction of the parasitic classes and the contours of a new world in which the tyranny of man over man is abolished. At the same time, Nietzsche uses “timelessness” to deal, like Coubertin, with the historical heritage, which suggests that it is not egoism which is the essence of man’s instinctive nature, but sociability. (145) Coubertin abolishes eternity as a transcendence that becomes “the ultimate consolation of an alienated existence” (Marcuse), and it becomes a synonym of a continuous existance of the present world, in which only quantitative shifts are possible, and of its “perfectioning”, which comes down to the final destruction of the emanicipatory heritage of mankind and the purification of man from all the properties (Eros, imagination, reason) that can question the present world.
For Nietzsche, cosmic laws acquire a metaphysical character; for Coubertin, they are the laws of evolution of the living beings. They do not have a transcendental but an immanent character: they constitute life and man does not relate to them, he is their incarnation and a form of their activity. At the same time, with the abolishment of transcendency the past and future are abolished, and they vanish in the present time: in Couberten, there is a progression without progress, a “progress” without future. As for the critique of transcendence, there must not exist any ideas that transcend the present world and that can become the basis of a critical-changing distance to it. The Christian logos and Nietzsche’s conception are two forms of the abolishment of history: in the first case, being is reduced to an abstract spirit (God); in the second case, being is reduced to an abstract body (cosmos). Nietzsche, like Coubertin, erases man’s historical traces and “contacts” with the past only through myths. In that context, the idea of the “eternal recurrence” becomes the creation of a peculiar whirl of thought in which the idea and inclination to future should vanish. Nietzsche abolishes the historical fertility of capitalism: he seeks to destroy the germ of a new world which, on the basis of the development of the productive forces and libertarian struggle of the oppressed, was created in modern society. The emancipatory heritage which, in the conditions of the “herd’s” rise, hinders a radical combat with the oppressed and becomes their guiding principle in the struggle against the tyranny of the strong, is rejected. In that sense, Nietzsche’s ”nihilism” is productive: he seeks to remove all barriers to the “overman’s” ”will to power”, including the critical reason. Instead of a philosophy that mediates between the basic cosmic law and man and establishes a firmament which with its rules of thought, knowledge and norms arouses suspicion, obscures and confuses – thwarting the “will to power” and, consequently, the survival of the mighty – the cosmic forces should directly infuse the “overman” with their strength and man should be returned to his cosmic origin (obscured by the suspicion started by Socrates, whose thought symbolizes the appearance of demos on the historical scene, and with it the notion of a reasonable freedom and equality). Nietzsche’s theory is dominated by a cosmic time which is determined by the process of creation and destruction and which is not an expression of the fight of opposites but of the pulsation of the cosmic energy bringing about some qualitative changes: man is a specific form of the existance of the cosmic energy. In spite of insisting on the Olympic Games as the “festivity of spring” symbolizing a (eternal) rebirth of the vital force of capitalism, in Coubertin dominates the mechanical time expressed in a linear evolution of the world which is measured by an increase in the material wealth of the parasitic classes, and which appears in sport in the form of a quantitative increase in the results (records). Man is deprived of qualities; his nature is determined by a dehumanized and denutarilized “progress”, while the record becomes the measure of man’s alienation from his human essence.
Nietzsche’s conception apparently opposes the “duties” (Socrates, Kant) and insists on a free development of human powers. Actually, Nietzsche deals with the limitations based on reason and freedom, and opts for the limitations imposed by a tyrannical aristocratic order. “Instead of the autonomy of reason we have the self-willedness of the overman – and that was the road from Kant to Nietzsche, described in the 19th century” – says Windelband. (146) Nietzsche departs from the “overman” who embodies a destructive capitalistic irrationalism and proclaims his nature the cosmic nature of (over)man. Hence the oppressive and destructive instincts become man’s chief anthropological trait. Nietzsche seeks to remove all barriers to the tyrannical will of the ruling parasitic classes – in order to stop the advance of the increasingly numerous and politically conscious “herd”. Therefore, he has to deal with the philosophy whose representatives are Socrates and the “moral cripple” Kant, which seeks to establish criteria for human action that will respect certain universal human values and will be binding for all – it found its expression in classical German philosophy in the form of the notions of “reason” and “freedom”, as well as in Kant’s “categorical imperative” and the “Declaration on Human Rights” formulated in the American Revolution and affirmed in the French Revolution.
Nietzsche’s philosophy is “beyond good and evil”. According to Nietzsche, “the weak” invented the “good” in order to limit the will to power and thus the vital force of the stronger: “The basic tendency of the weak and mediocre of all ages is, consequently, to weaken and pull down the stronger: chief means, the moral judgment.” (147) Thus, “good” is means of the “weak” for destroying the strong, from which follows that “evil” is a legitimate tool of the strong to preserve the class order. Nietzsche: “From a superior viewpoint one desires the contrary: the ever-increasing dominion of evil, the growing emancipation of man from the narrow and fear-ridden bonds of morality, the increase of force, in order to press the mightiest natural powers – the affects – into service.” (148) Dealing with the morality becomes dealing with the barriers that impede the flow of the cosmic energy into man and thus weaken his “will to power”. In Nietzsche, there exists a fight between good and evil, but it is beyond the Christian moral postulates and the libertarian struggle of the oppressed. For him, all that contributes to the development of the will to power of his “overman” is good, and all that restricts that power is bad. When Nietzsche says that his “overman” is “an evil being”, he departs from the Christian criteria, while according to the criteria of his doctrine the “overman” is a higher being since it appears as an incarnation of the highest level in the development of the cosmic energy. Hence one of the greatest dangers for the strong is to accept the demand for “goodness” – since it threatens their existence. Nietzsche places the rich “elite” beyond morality, but not the members of the “herd”. “We are beyond good and evil – but we demand that herd morality should be held sacred unconditionally”, says the principal “immoralist” Nietzsche. (149) To obediently bear oppression – that is the highest moral challenge for the oppressed. Here Nietzsche appears as a preacher of the ideology of suffering and thus as a fervent Christian moralist. Coubertin also rejects the demand for justice, freedom and equality, and mercilessly deals with the hope of and the faith in a better world. The power of the strong is the source of their privileges: law and justice are abolished. Coubertin, like Nietzsche, rigidly demands from the oppressed to willingly accept their submission in society and at the same time exempts the ruling “elite”, which has a “higher purpose”, from any moral responsibility. Instead of a demand for “goodness”, a demand for the “right” conduct, which comes down to the strengthening of their rule and a global expansion, becomes the highest “moral” challenge for the rich “elite”.
Nietzsche, like Coubertin, rejects Christianity since it proved to be an inefficient means for holding the workers in submission, and its teaching contains some elements that arouse hope in the oppressed of a better world. Nietzsche’s cry “God is dead!” means that the “new nobility” should not count on Christianity any more in their fight with the “herd”, but should rely on an overt “will to power” that arises from the highest cosmic law: “might is right”. “The death of God” does not signify the birth of a free man, but a new slavery and the destruction of any hope of a just world. The omnipotence of God is replaced by an unconditional and fatal omnipotence of the “overman”: the sword replaces the cross. Nietzsche’s attack on Christianity and the Church, precisely from the point of view of his political theory, misses the point since the Church provided not only a spiritual, but the most important political support to the aristocratic order which sought to have absolute power over the oppressed: Christianity as the lie of the strong becomes, according to Nietzsche, the truth of the weak. Christianity never limited the self-willedness of the strong, but was a way of their deification. The most atrocious crimes were committed under the symbol of the cross: whole peoples were exterminated and millions of members of the “herd” who dared to oppose Christianity were killed precisely by Nietzsche’s aristocracy, to whose genocidal practice refers even Nietzsche, trying to deal with the workers. As for Nietzsche’s glorification of the Renaissance as a “strong time”, it needs to be said that it was precisely on this period that Church made its mark. The Catholic Church was in that period the generator of evil that lashed out at the “herd” and its best members: massive executions, bestial clashes with the revolting peasants, plots, treachery, horrible tortures, bloody fights between noblemen, wars, diseases, famine, despair… In Renaissance Italy crime became the main way of life. However, Nietzsche deals with Christianity in the period when the working people become conscious and politically organized, and he recognizes in it the ideas that can become a political platform for the unification of the oppressed in their struggle against the tyranny of the parasitic classes. Nietzsche sees in Christianity a spiritual spring of socialist thought: “The gospel: the news that a gateway to happiness stands open for the poor and lowly – that all one has to do is free oneself from the institutions, traditions, guardianship of the upper classes: to this extent the rise of Christianity is nothing more than the typical socialist doctrine.” (150) Like Coubertin, Nietzsche deals with the false Christian hope of a “better world” in Heavens, in order to destroy people’s hope of a better world on earth. By dealing with Christianity, he deals with the French Revolution in which he sees “the daughter and continuation of Christianity – its instincts are against caste, against the noble, against the last privileges…” (151) He uses Christian frauds, such as the idea of “equality before God”, in order to deal with the idea of equality of people in society, reducing it to a demand for uniformity. What Nietzsche, together with Coubertin, demands is a spiritual integration of the parasitic classes in their final combat with the increasingly numerous and organized working people, who are becoming a political force able to dethrone the plutocracy. Hence Nietzsche does not rely on God, but on the cosmic powers: nothing must hinder the will to power of the parasitic classes and every thought arousing hope of the oppressed of a better world should be dispelled. Nietzsche abolishes the Christian spiritual firmament – which appears in the forms of “God”, “Christ”, “holy spirit”, “devil”, “hell”, “paradise” etc. – and establishes his own spiritual firmament in the form of the “cosmic energy” and “cosmic laws”. He takes the “herd” from the priests and delivers it to his “overman”, who appears in the form of a merciless cosmic tyrant. By dealing with Christianity Nietzsche deals with the idea of a true world: “It is of cardinal importance that one should abolish the true world. It is the great inspirer of doubt and devaluator in respect of the world we are: it has been our most dangerous attempt yet to assassinate life.” (152) The endeavour to kill the hope of the oppressed and their faith in a better world is a common characteristic of Nietzsche’s and Coubertin’s teachings.
Just as Coubertin appropriates the results of the creative powers of the working “masses” and tries to turn them into the exclusive means of the bourgeoisie for their oppression, so Nietzsche appropriates the results of the libertarian struggle of the “herd” and creates from them a means for the final victory of the “new nobility” incarnated in the “overman” over the “herd”. Nietzsche’s “overman” becomes the form in which man’s libertarian-creative powers turn into the tyrannical power of the parasitic classes. He represents a new attempt at the deification of the power alienated from man that dethroned the Church and that is capable of creating a new world where there is no place for the old or “new nobility”. All that Nietzsche seeks to give to his “overman” the best members of the “herd” created long before Nietzsche’s Zarathustra and thus proved that they are capable of finding their own way. Many libertarian minds, like Goethe, Feuerbach and Marx, recognized in man an overman, not a tyrant, but a freedom oriented man who is capable of dealing with Christian dogmas and create a world in his human image. It is precisely in their struggle against the Church that people matured and proved that they were not a “herd”. That is why Nietzsche does not speak of the historical struggle against Christianity, whose symbolic offsprings are Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei and many others who, like Giordano Bruno, ended in flames or on the scaffold. Nietzsche mercilessly deals with the socialists who radicalized the combat with Christianity and, starting from Marx’s view that religion is the “opium of people”, refused to continue to be “sheep” that the new masters will milk and fleece at their will. As for Coubertin, he does not renounce the Catholic Church as he sees in it a political ally in the struggle against the proletariat, but he appeals to God only when it is necessary, and at the same time renounces Christianity as an ideology that was not capable of preventing the bourgeois revolutions and driving the proletariat away from the political (libertarian) battlefield. While Christ appears as the leader of the oppressed in their resistance to the strong, Coubertin appears as the spiritual leader of the new “master race” that should for ever deal with the emancipatory heritage of mankind. Coubertin has in Zarathustra, just as in the Catholic Church, a rival, but also an ally: they fight for leadership, but they together fight to preserve class society. Like Coubertin, Nietzsche was convinced that his philosophy “brings the triumphant idea of which all other modes of thought will ultimately perish.” (153) Nietzsche’s “Zarathustra” is the gospel of the parasitic classes, while the Bible is, according to Nietzsche, the gospel of the “herd”. He calls on the fight between “evil”, embodied in the aristocracy, and “good”, embodied in the “herd”. Like Coubertin, Nietzsche, an “immoralist”, offers his services to the European oligarchy: “The princes of Europe should consider carefully whether they can do without our support. We immoralists – we are today the only power that needs no allies in order to conquer: thus we are by far the strongest of the strong.” (154) Coubertin claimed the same and he proclaimed Olympism the most important religion of the 20th century. However, the very existence of Nietzsche’s conception suggests its falsehood: why Zarathustra if the cosmic power is so indisputable? The same applies to the Church: if God’s will is omnipresent and omnipotent, the existence of the Church is meaningless. Coubertin’s Olympic doctrine has the same difficulty: why IOC if “progress” is inevitable and unstoppable? These conceptions do not have an enlightening but a dogmatic character: their main task is not to create reasonable people who seek the truth, but fanatics who will obediently follow the instructions of their spiritual leaders. It is supported by their rhetoric: in their sermons, priests, Zarathustra and Coubertin appeal not to reason, but to the “heart” trying to reach man’s innermost being and win him over in order to achieve the given ends. This “skill of seduction”, based on an instrumentalized mind, is a privilege and a means of the “elite” for preserving its power over the “herd”. However, Nietzsche’s poeticized rhetoric opens a possibility of posing crucial questions, and in that sense it far exceeds Coubertin’s “Ode to Sport”, as well as his Olympic doctrine. For Nietzsche, poetical (Dichtung) is the original form of thought that does not hinder the development of man’s affective nature and that enables the development of his “will to power”. The wise man and the prophet Zarathustra does not appear in a philosophical, but in an aesthetical robe and thus removes every possibility of checking the soundness and truthfulness of his views. Nietzsche is against the dialog, the causal-explicative, speculation, the “inner sense”, “intellectual perception”, the “thing in itself”, mysticism, the metaphysical – against all that appears as an obstacle between cosmos and the “overman’s” affective (active) nature. The pursuit of truth as an intelligible act is a fruitless endevour that ultimately only affirms the limitation and purposelessness of the intelligent act itself. Not to pursue truth but to increase the “will to power”, and that means to insure an indisputable power of the parasitic classes – this is the essence of Zarathustra’s mission. Nietzsche did not write his works in order to develop philosophy, but to win over and fanaticize the members of the parasitic classes so that they should start the final combat with the increasingly numerous and politically active “herd”: Zarathustra is the last philosopher. Basically, it is a psychological manipulation which, on the whole, exceeds a classical hypnotic seance: a poetical expression becomes a way of penetrating the subconscious so as to imprint into man’s being certain messages that are to become guidelines for his action – without any possibility of a rational test. Like Christian demagogues, Zarathustra wants to be emotionally close with his listener (reader) by way of his solitary pathos and thus create an atmosphere of trust with which any rationally based doubts will be dispelled and his messages will freely reach the innermost part of the human being. The purpose of his speech is not to enlighten, but to dominate man’s whole being and to fanaticize him. The symbols are carefully chosen and have an instrumental character. At the same time, the artistic character of Nietzsche’s philosophy in Zarathustra corresponds to his endeavour to develop man’s affective being through art by removing all forms of mediation that prevent the flow of the cosmic energy into man, as the driving force of the “will to power”. In that context, Nietzsche seeks to overcome the “fragmantized” and create a “synthetic” man who will be capable to experience his whole being.
In the subtitle of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” Nietzsche says that this book is “for all and for nobody”, but it is addressed to those who have a developed artistic and philosophical sense, and not to the “animals from the herd” who are left at the mercy of an (alienated) labour that cripples their artistic sense and reason. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra is a beacon whose light penetrates into the very being of the chosen and represents the most important means for their spiritual and physical consolidation: to create from the aristocracy an exclusive organic community is one of the primary tasks of Nietzsche’s philosophy.
Bearing in mind the basic intention of Nietzsche’s work, a “pure” philosophical consideration of Nietzsche’s thought is doomed to fail, since the specific and unrepeatable element in Nietzsche’s work is beyond indifferent speculation. Consistently following the spirit of Nietzsche’s work we can come to the following postulate: to think about Nietzsche’s work, one must think together with Nietzsche; to think together with Nietzsche, one must experience Nietzsche.