Nihilism in the Modern Era – How Nietzsche Analyzed the Three Main Symptoms Plaguing Society

Nihilism, according to Nietzsche, was still only coming, or standing at the door, in his time, but, he said, the prospect was already speaking with hundreds of symptoms.The organism of the times has planted nihilism foci, and there is still a process of attack, but all kinds of symptoms show that this disease already exists.According to Nietzsche’s descriptions in various works, such symptoms can be roughly summarized into three aspects.

The first is an indifferent attitude towards faith.Nietzsche said,”Nothing seems to me rarer today than true hypocrisy.”Hypocrisy belongs to the age of strong faith, in which people do not renounce their former faith even when forced to accept another.Today people easily abandon it; or, more often, add a second faith, and they remain honest in every case.”A man of true faith, if forced by authority to accept the dominant faith, may outwardly accept it, but inwardly cling to it.Nietzsche called this practice “true hypocrisy,” that is, mouth and heart do not agree, verbal obedience, inner persistence.Modern people accept and give up easily, because there is no real belief in the heart, it does not matter what they believe, and the mouth and heart are the same, there will be no conscience.This indifference proves, in particular, that modern man has no faith.So Nietzsche says: “It is typical of modernity to be guiltless and to lie with a sense of ease.”

The second is the rush of lifestyle.Precisely because there is no faith, modern man focuses all his attention on the outside world and falls into a mindless hurry.Nietzsche said of the hurry of modern man: “that rush, that breathless race against time, that impatience to pick all the fruits before they are ripe, that competition to catch up with each other, it cuts deep grooves in people’s faces.”Modern man is like a slave with three M’s stamped on his face, the first letter of three German words.The first word is Moment, meaning the moment; the second word is Meinung, meaning opinion; and the third word is Mode, meaning fashion.Modern man is a slave to the present, opinion and fashion.Nietzsche also said that modern life is like a torrent, people think with watches, read newspapers at dinner, and rush through the busy city; people no longer think, they are afraid of meditation, they are ashamed of peace, and when they calm down, they almost feel guilty and feel that this is wrong.In these days industry, that is, hard work for money and hard work for money, is the only virtue.It is this foolish smug industry which, more than anything else, makes a man faithless.

The third is cultural mediocrity.I can summarize it in today’s language into three characteristics.

The first feature is packaging culture.Modern men, Nietzsche said, are so poor and tired of each other that they want to make themselves interesting at all costs, so they are full of cultural ingredients that they can serve themselves as attractive delicacies.Hurrying to make modern men look bad, so they need to cover themselves up with a deceptive grace, so they put on their dresses and party in a fake way, which means turning a blind eye to their daily greed, selfishness and meanness and to each other.

Modern man lacks creativity, so he needs to collect many fragments of the previous culture to decorate himself. The whole modern culture is like “a ragged colored coat draped over a cold naked body.”

The second feature is fast food culture.Nietzsche certainly did not use this word. He used a word called “journalism”, which means that all cultures are aligned with the media and become news dissemination.Journalism has two characteristics.The first is immediacy, focusing on the speed and novelty of information, hence Nietzsche’s call of journalists “servants of the present.”The second is amateurism, which covers all subjects but only a few, hence Nietzsche’s description of the press as a “cohesive intermediate class” residing between disciplines.Under the influence of journalism, culture has become more and more current and popular.Nietzsche said that the press dominates society, and journalists replace genius as teachers of the times.In fact, in Nietzsche’s era, the media was just a limited number of newspapers, which could not be compared with today’s Internet era.You cannot deny that Nietzsche’s understanding was incomparably advanced.

The third feature is entertainment culture.Nietzsche said that modern people because of the rush of work, resulting in nervous fatigue, spiritual emptiness, need to seek stimulation and anesthesia in art.To supply modern man with sensuous and mental stimulants and anesthetics has become the chief mission of modern art.He hated Romanticism and thought that Romantic artists catered to this need of modern man by creating passion.He also hated theatres, which he believed were for the masses, in which man ceased to be an individual but became the masses and herds,”theatricalism” indicating the spiritual emptiness and lack of individuality of men, and he even viciously called theatres “public toilets for fun.”

We can see that the disease of the age diagnosed by Nietzsche still exists today, and the era characterized by nihilism is predicted.

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