Chapter Five – Death of the Western God

Nietzsche Exercises


Part One

  1. Explain the tightrope metaphor. What are the two ends? What holds the tightrope together? What is the significance of this?

Part Two

  1. Zarathustra walks down the mountain because he thinks he needs to communicate his recently acquired knowledge to others. What arguments can you make to support the notion that a person who has acquired a certain knowledge has an obligation to preach that truth to others? Do you know of any recent examples of people who got into trouble for speaking truth to power?


Part Three

  1. The police are, according to Marx, part of the armed forces of the capitalist state. In his view, as well as in Kropotkin’s, they protect property, the means of production, rather than people. We saw this clearly in the murder of George Floyd (GF), where the police killed a black man they were arresting following a call from a store clerk who claimed GF had paid for cigarettes with a counterfeit bill (fake money). For both Marx and Kropotkin, the police represent the interests of the bourgeois, the 1% that own means of production under capitalism by amassing wealth through the extraction of surplus value. George Floyd, a Black man, a worker, was murdered for the sake of the sanctity of money, a key element of the capitalist economy. As his brother asked ““Is that what a Black man is worth? Twenty dollars?”
  2. Taking into account Nietzsche’s call to speak truth to power, what is the role of a white person regarding police brutality? Why do white people have to stand up to police brutality against People of Color?

Part Four

  1. How does Nietzsche’s God is Dead connect with a non-Eurocentric perspective? Why is this important?

Part Five

  1. Nietzsche is writing about a new consciousness or a new way of being, which he characterizes as the “overman,” not a god, or animal, slave or master, the overman is the constant struggle of humanity to create moral values against nihilism, for better, stronger communities. In his view, Christianity has transformed us into weak sheep, who follow the herd. We are the last man, the flaccid man who self-indulges and cannot think independently. How does this new subjectivity, this overman fit into the conception of a new world -or society- in Marx’s socialism and Kropotkin’s anarcho-communism? 

Part Six

Create a short presentation following the prompts below. 

  1. What would the world look like if there were no masters and no slaves?
  2. How would we relate to each other?
  3. How would institutions of political and social life be different?
  4. How about personal relations? Family connections? The University?
  5. Would this model be in agreement with Marx’s or Kropotkin’s notion of social organization? Find quotes from Nietzsche and other authors that help you support your claim. 


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