Schopenheur’s pessimistic view that everybody suffers has continued to hold true through the Industrial Revolution and the ensuing technology spiral of the late twentieth century - which continues at an increasing pace during the twenty-first century. It is a truism that all human beings desire, and anyone in a state of want may be said to suffer. In the past this desire was a basic need for food, shelter and warmth, as defined by Maslow’s Hierarchy. Now that we in the West have long since met these needs the current generation has more leisure time than any previous; they should only suffer only through boredom. Correspondingly, this should be a Golden Age for art, music and exploration, of freethinkers and liberal attitudes. The shackles of custom and dogma should have been torn asunder by a new breed that transcended the societal norm, freed from the tyranny of the herd mentality. This should be the age of the Übermensch, as prophesied by Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.
Instead of evolution we have embraced devolution! The lowest common denominator is the yardstick by which we measure society. The current generation is not the Übermensch – they are the apathetic, poorly read stooges of the Multinationals, the inheritors of consumerist policies. Their pathetic and narrow worldview is incapable of grasping the importance of anything beyond ownership of the latest WAP phone. That the Arab and the Jew murder each other’s children in the name of religion is inconsequential to them. They are blinded by the pernicious influence of satellite television, the Internet, games consoles and the tabloid press. Why bother to hold an opinion when someone else can hold it for you? Why question your government’s domestic or foreign policies? Every time they should cry out they remain silent, disinterested, as their civil liberties are still further eroded in the name of the War On Drugs or the War On Terror. They do not worry that the government wants the right to monitor their phone calls, read their e-mails, or review which sites they have visited on the Internet. Their concern lies in having faster access and better browsers and video-streamed graphics. If a Police State is to exist, surely it will exist for their protection? It is easier for them to believe in the existence of evil unfounded than to question what motivates a human being to crash a hijacked aircraft into a building. That there might be injustice at the root of the problem is inconceivable.
Nietzsche’s burial of God may have been premature, when over a century later mankind still clings to raft of faith in the harsh light of scientific advance. However, he was correct when he warned that Christianity had weakened and impoverished the character of man. We have swapped the authority of the Church for the authority of the Multinationals. Where once the herd animal was a Christian sheep, now it is the Corporate sheep. Its purpose in life is no longer benevolence, charity or moralisation; its purpose is to consume. The military and the bio-pharmaceuticals rain down their wares on the herd, which bleats thankfully in the name of progress.
No, this is not the Golden Age; this is not the time of the Übermensch. It is the Plastic Age – the age of disposable culture! The age of the nothing, where the blind who choose not to see are crowned kings!