GOD IS Dead! Gordon Strachan is poised to push Boro beyond good and evil in a Nietzchean sturm und drang summer in which he will re-engineer the human condition at Hurworth to shape a team of ubermensch. No, really.
So far the no-nonsense Scot has danced around questions about his philosophy but in his clearest statement yet on the nature of football, the human condition and the path to a better and more successful group he has revealed a nihilist kernel of Germanic steel.
“I’ve got to test their characters,” he said. “I need to weed out the mentally and physically weak. Or I make the mentally or physically weak stronger.”
Dug-out eugenics? It certainly sounds like the Nietzchean quest for social and moral development through struggle; the need for individuals to strive for a higher state through “the will to power”.
“If you want an easy ride, there are other clubs for you,” he said, posing a practical question of personal philosophy for the squad to ponder. “If you want to stay at the same level of ability and fitness, you might have to go to another club, but I’m not accepting everybody stays the same. Even for the older ones, I want to see them keep improving. Like Robbo (Barry Robson), he’s desperate to get even fitter and better.”
Robbo is Strachan’s Superman, his template for a footballing ubermensch (and that’s Nietzche’s philisophical vehicle of personal morality rather than the concept the fascists hijacked and bastardised as a mitigation for imperial agression by the way. I don’t think we’ll be turning out in black shirts next season.
Robbo has embraced the ethos of working and fighting to reach a higher plane. He is a leader by example in the fight to shrug off the shackles of under-achievement and has already won the hearts and minds of the squad and supporters because of his dedication to realisation of the ideal, his drive for progress and success.
Nietzche believed that man was held back in a condition of perpetual failure and a battle for mere existance rather than striving for enlighenment because of the ‘the elective slavery of the meek’… that people – individuals, groups, nations – were prepared to accept mediocrity, drudgery, moral and intellectual poverty and institutional failure as their norm and will actively celebrate the ideas that trumpet that as the norm, meaning mainly religion, nationalism and selfish hedonism.
I think as Boro fans we can see the landscape of analogy forming here. The meek will accept relegation, mid-table water-treading and an eternal struggle for the most basic form of survival as a type of success and embrace the enslavement of ideas such as that we are are punching above our weight, that this is our natural status, that a foam fingered blind faith will triumph in the end. And at least we aren’t Preston or Watford.
Instead Nietzche said the superman was ready to break from the bondage of mediocrity. He argued “the will to power” was more important than pressure to survival and that supermen did not desire mere living but wanted power, glory, and greatness, often being prepared to sacrifice their personal security and comfort to achieve it. Or their lives… but that might be asking a bit much from Robbo.
I think most Boro fans would share elements of the Nietzschean ethos: demand promotion or bust; a squad of conscious ubermensch battlers totally dedicated to achieving the greatness of victory and ready to take one for the team. Most fans would suffer for the team. We have before.
And when the gaffer outlines his proto-Nietzchean position it says a lot about the nature of the great purge to come this summer. The morally weak, the self indulgent, the lazy and those prepared to accept the norms of mediocrity will be gone (you can compile your own list of the meek) and in will come the zealous, the industrious, the brave and the strong. Ubermensch.
So will we get Mittlesburg-am-Rhine after all? Maybe Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries blasting out of the PA instead of Pigbag? I love the smell of na-parmo in the morning.
*Next week: Gareth Southgate’s flawed reflection of the Platonic ideal.
And yes, this is the kind of thing we talk about at work.
TALKING balls and playfully over intellectualising football is a great excuse to revisit the best bit of football footage ever. …. “and Marx is claiming it was offside”
And by coincidence…. that famous Monty Python Germany v Greece game is being restaged soon as part of a campaign to get “philosophy” into the national curriculum as the fourth R… reasoning. You can find out more at philosophersfootball.com.