The Nihilism of Western Society

Western society is not decadent; it’s nihilistic.

Now, those familiar with me know that I consider myself a nihilist. I am also well aware that Nietzsche–the father of modern nihilism–would be appalled to learn that we call ourselves nihilists. We don’t mean it in the same sense that Nietzsche meant it, and I’m going to get into that momentarily. We mean it in the sense of ultimate objectivity, refusing to allow emotions a place in shaping our knowledge, and a strict separation of emotion from reason. This leads to a lack of attachment and loyalty to existing institutions. We don’t look at the educational institution and say, “Well, it’s bad and could be replaced, but we’ve had this one for so long…” Instead, we stop at “Does it accomplish what we want it to? If not, replace it.”

Nihilists do not advocate arbitrarily destroying socioeconomic institutions just because. We advocate destroying them if they don’t do what we want them to do. This requires objectively looking at them and their results. Nihilism is a constant battle between what we believe and what is, and not everyone is capable of accepting “what is.” Religion is a great example. I have a friend who agrees with me almost completely about religion, and even agrees that people use deities as projections of their own beliefs and opinions. Yet, he still believes that there is a god–in the deist sense. This is an example where he will not accept What Is because of What Ought.

It’s funny that nihilists recognize that every value that we assign to things is subjective, while also striving to be as objective as possible–objective, in this context, meaning “not allowing emotions to alter the value we ascribe.” Nietzsche would absolutely be an anarcho-capitalist if he lived today: Austrian economics is the application of this subjectivity to market values. Nietzsche spoke primarily of assigning moral values, but the principle is the same for market values, too, and he has long been recognized as an enemy of the state. It was Nietzsche, after all, who said:

Everything the state says is a lie, and everything it has, it has stolen.

If there’s anything that you should take away from this preamble, it’s that I understand Nietzsche and I understand what we call Nihilism. I am a nihilist. For the rest of the article, though, I don’t mean “nihilist” in that sense. I mean it in its Nietzschean sense: advocating ideas and opinions that are ultimately self-destructive. This is what Nietzsche meant when he characterized Christianity as nihilistic. From The Antichrist:

What is more harmful than any vice?–Practical sympathy for the botched and the weak–Christianity…

We Americans, too, are increasingly nihilistic, yet it has nothing to do with religion. It does have to do with the same thing that Nietzsche criticized, but I think Nietzsche was wrong here. I don’t think compassion is a problem; in fact, I encourage compassion. I think that we tend to come up with extremely short-sighted, non-functional solutions, propose them, and then tie our compassion to them, so much so that anyone who then disputes our proposed solution is written off as lacking compassion. That’s a bit long-winded and technical, so let me give an example.

I am against welfare. I am adamantly against stealing from one person to give their money to someone else, and this is what constitutes “welfare” in western society. Whether you think it’s just or not is irrelevant; that’s simply what happens. When I tell people that I am against welfare, I am universally met with the response of, “You just want poor people to starve to death?”

Published alongside me in V2: The Voluntary Voice was Matthew Weber, who told a story about his voluntaryist-oriented band played a show, and at one point said some anarchistic stuff. Someone threw a bottle at the drummer and shouted, “Without the state, where would I find housing?”

Without even being conscious of it, they have formed a false dichotomy where the choices are “the state” or “people starve and go homeless.”

Nietzsche wrote from a perspective that was, really, Beyond Good and Evil. He was not concerned with what he called Middle Class Morality–a profound realization in its own right, that the rich don’t abide morality because they don’t have to, and the poor don’t abide it because they don’t have the luxury. Nietzsche realized that morality is a luxury, and it is from here that we proceed, because compassion is also a luxury. The child starving to death surely has no compassion for the robbery of Kim Kardashian. The woman dying of cancer surely has no compassion for a stranger’s flu.

When people begin starving, morality is the first thing to be thrown away, as morality was the force responsible for creating the vacuum in which they went hungry. The man starving to death has no moral difficulty with stealing a loaf of bread. The family going hungry has no moral difficulty using the state to give to others for their own benefit. So, too, is my critique of this theft as immoral a luxury of the middle class–and my morality does not apply to them, because they have discarded it. When thrown with others into a survival trap like in the movie Saw, we would have no moral difficulty in poisoning the doctor to ensure our own survival.

Certainly, I would argue that it is good that we have our Middle Class Morality, and I argue that both the poor and the rich should have to abide it. Many Americans argue that the rich should have to, but leave the poor out of this requirement. We criticize Wells Fargo for stealing, basically, from its customers, yet we give a thumbs up to the poor who use the state to steal. My entire position as an anarchist is that everyone must follow this Middle Class Morality that forbids the use of force, violence, and coercion, and that this mandate must include the rulers–who so often are given a free pass to violate the tenets of our morality.

However, I am not concerned with what the middle class says is right or wrong. Here, as Nietzsche did, we focus our efforts higher than that, and go beyond that; we look instead at survival and the species. There is no one as nihilistic as millennials, and this is a problem that we must address.

Millennials despise people being rewarded for their effort.

Such a sweeping statement! And, obviously, it will not be true of all millennials–I am a millennial. However, it is true of the majority of them.

They embrace an economic system that deliberately does not reward people for their effort. It doesn’t matter how we dress it up. If a person believes that a doctor, an attorney, an engineer, a physicist, a Wal-Mart cashier, and a burger flipper deserve equal wages, then they ipso facto reject the notion that people should be rewarded for their effort.

As I wrote for Cubed3 regarding Star Fox Zero, this extends to most areas of life: millennials simply want to be given stuff, and they legitimately don’t understand why effort should be rewarded. We’re told that we’re entitled if we want the physicist to be rewarded for their years of training and education with a higher wage. We’re told that we’re entitled if we want the doctor to be rewarded for their years of training and education with a higher wage. And, yes, we’re told we’re entitled if we want the effort we put into beating a video game rewarded.

This mentality–that rewarding effort is bad–is the same one that gave us participation trophies, and it becomes nihilistic when we know that the primary reason that people do stuff… is for a reward. Psychology has made this abundantly clear. You don’t punish bad behavior; you reward good behavior. We all want to be rewarded; this is fundamental to being a human being, or a cat or a dog. We are dealing with primal forces that we cannot control here, and we cannot predict the longterm consequences of making sure that Billy, who sat in the grass eating bugs, gets exactly the same trophy as Michael, who hit fourteen homeruns. How hard will Michael work the next year, if he knows his effort won’t be rewarded or even acknowledged?

Donald Trump has been assaulted recently for making more lewd remarks about women, and for remarking on the fact that, when you’re a rich star, women tend to let you do whatever you want. Yes, they clearly do tend to:

This is the world we live in.Notice the words “tend to” here, and remember that we’re not speaking in absolutes. We’re never speaking in absolutes.

If Trump grabbed women who didn’t want to be grabbed, that’s an issue, and we can discuss that, but we can’t pretend like Trump is a monster because he uses his riches and fame to sleep with beautiful women. We hate Trump because he reminded us of what animals we are. He breaks that self-delusion that we are better than that, that we are greater than that, that we are more than animals.

But no. We’re not.

Donald Trump is a wolf who has filled his cave with dead prey, and is standing in front of the cave whistling at lady wolves, “Hey, baby! Look at all the prey that I got! Yeah, I did that. Don’t you want to let me fuck you?”

The greatest amusement to me are the guys who say, “No! I would never use my power and wealth to attempt to sleep with women.”

Yeah, well. Okay.

And that’s why you don’t have power and wealth.

Do you know why every human being does like 99% of the things they do? I’ll give you a hint.


It’s not just men; it’s women, too. It’s humans, period. We are sexual creatures. The desire to reproduce is ubiquitous through us–even though we all deal with it in different ways–and it made us all very, very horny. It’s our Middle Class Morality that keeps us from fucking as the cats and dogs do, but it’s a constant battle against ourselves. Regardless of the question, “To get laid” is almost always the answer. Not always, but most of the time. It is an underlying motive for practically everything that humans do.

So why do some men seek riches and fame? To sleep with beautiful women.

This isn’t wrong. It can’t be wrong, because there are plenty of beautiful women who want to sleep with men who are rich and famous. I would guess that the lottery winner there lost his virginity to that woman and that no one slept with him when he wasn’t rich and famous. Suddenly he was, and suddenly found the love of his life.

Imagine that.

There’s a difference, obviously–there’s a large, unidentifiable difference between a woman who would be willing to sleep with a dude because he is rich, and a woman who would be disgusted by the idea. Donald Trump knows damned well that his female campaign manager would never sleep with him, regardless of how much money he has. I’m not defending Trump. I’m pointing out that there are things we have to accept and things we have to discuss, because trying to undo it is nihilistic.

If you take away the financial rewards of effort, then you take away the motivation of people to become rich so that they can have sex with supermodels. Can you imagine the wondrous innovations and technologies we have today because someone wanted to get laid?

Millennials hate the rich because the rich represent that: reward for effort. The rich are evil because they want their effort rewarded, and it’s selfish and entitled to want effort rewarded–but like totes 4 real not selfish and entitled to want to be rewarded without effort.

Millennials hate themselves, and because of this they are inclined to subconsciously adopt ideologies that are nihilistic and that would destroy us.

Millennials hate individual responsibility for the same reason. It’s all tied together. They hate themselves; they hate their own humanity. So they attempt to destroy it by denying that individual responsibility is a good thing, by denying that autonomy is a good thing, by denying that a person wants their effort rewarded, by denying that a person is motivated to put in effort by the rewards it offers. Yet all of these things are reasons our species survives to this day, and reasons that western society has thrived.

Hating these things is a luxury provided to them by the very things they hate.

2 thoughts on “The Nihilism of Western Society

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