“Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of (deicide)?” asks Nietzsche’s madman in The Gay Science. “God is dead”, not in the sense of something an atheist might say, but as an argument that postulates the end of metaphysics. According to Nietzsche, the end –the transition to nothingness – has been encoded into metaphysics since the very beginning, from the time of Plato, and is effected through Christianity (“Platonism for the masses”) and from that point on through the Age of Enlightenment, when the superhuman goal or absolute was superseded by the maximum satisfaction and well-being of the greatest number. The liberal reach of this ideal is predestined to weaken, Nietzsche believed, as people would ultimately left clutching at emptiness once the supreme world faded. Man would no longer have anything to latch on to. Even for Estonian society with its own particularities, Nietzsche offers deep insights, the precise meaning of which is only now starting to take on clearer contours.

It is harder and harder to shake the feeling that we are living between two eras. We are the children of the outgoing age –Nietzsche’s age of God – something still stirs in most of us in response to its commandments and interdictions. But there are an increasing number of us who want to become deities ourselves. Not as in Kitzberg’s work God of the Purse, or the Lord of the Flies– the decline of the West has already gone past these steps – but one’s own God. A one-man or one-woman God. Anders Breivik, Timothy McVeigh, school shooters in Germany, Finland and elsewhere, the London rioters – with certain reservations – did not attack subsections or aspects of the system to improve them (as did their terrorist forebears going back to the Russian anarchists) – rather they attacked the entire world order as such. The object of their rage was not the enemies of what they considered to be the ideal embodiment of the system, but their own kind, whose only fault was that the “god” of the system still speaks to them in some manner (Norwegian left-wing liberals, US federal government, students with life and career plans, even storekeepers are included in these ranks insofar as their activities are predicated on the current state of affairs continuing).

In the philosophical sense noted above, their actions represent post-nihilism. Post-nihilistic violence aimed at the surrounding normalcy is not inspired by progress or reform but purely by their one’s own position. Such violence lacks any critical dimension, even the slightest shred of support for changing the world. The motive for such violence is largely post hoc. It may be a response to questions that the perpetrator anticipates, but the tendency to justify one’s own actions as a knee-jerk reflex is the only due that nihilists give our world. They come from our world and as such they react to a certain part of the stimuli. Their violence on the other hand is pointless, thoughtless, absolute and solipsistic, severed from the rest of the world. /... / 

In the broader view of society, we have a unique opportunity to see whether utopia can become dystopia, and if so, how. No one has had such an opportunity before – if only because the utopian age has only recently come to an end. The anticipation of the middle third of the last century – that the flowering of human society is a question of social engineering (seen in purest form in the works of Isaac Asimov) – did not come to fruition. It appears that the conviction that self-regulation is the answer to everything (which dominated the last third of the 20th century and which, to continue the sci-fi analogy, is espoused by Robert Heinlein) is now in the dustbin of modern history. The last gasp for utopianism (to this point, at least) was seen in the hope that stirred at the turn of the millennium that history itself holds some superior teleological plan for us (as a bad omen or symptomatic inevitability, this period also coincided with the twilight of thinking people’s sci fi). Today we are left with something that could be described with the prescient sense that we are basking in the radiance of the glory of past eras. Nothing has directly been lost – other than faith in a better tomorrow.

Much depends on whether the end of history in the Western sense (meaning that history loses its point, becomes chaos) can be checked or controlled on the political level. It is completely possible that it is possible that we can buy some time. Time in turn could bring new rays of hope, but not solutions. But even politics are becoming more reactive and less substantial both in the New and Old World. Politics has a lack of a credible hope, and its leaders lack the ability to break eye contact with the eyes of the masses. /... / 

Ahto Lobjakas is an observer in the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute