The “Übermensch” and the Current Migration Crisis: A Back-to-the-Body Perspective

Immigrants flock to Europe.

Immigrants flock to Europe.

This discussion is launched by the current humanitarian crisis in Europe, precipitated by the influx of migrants coming into Europe. Discussions on the ground are marred by contriving interests: European nations refuse a quota system that would send a number of migrants to every country. Germany is showing a muscular response to the migration problem in terms of financial commitment and national policies, but other nations equivocate. There is a strong tendency in Europe to blame the United States for the crisis, for having changed the regime in Libya without replacing it with an alternative.

In this blog, we do not directly engage in political sword-crossing but rather seek more generic principles that can enlighten issues. So, I will deal with the issue of world migrations from two points of view: First, I will make a difference between “area role,” and “individual role” in terms of heart, stomach, and brain. And second, I will use Nietzsche’s term “Übermensch” by defining it from the back-to-the-body perspective. I will argue that everyone everywhere in the world is striving to attain the level of Übermensch (as defined here), and I will conclude by calling for a rethinking of immigration laws for all nations.

Area Role and Individual Role

Can the world be an organism?

Can the world be an organism?

In other posts on this blog, I have argued that, in order for the world to become an organic whole, it needs to follow the pattern of the human body. That is, one area plays the role of stomach; one area plays the role of brain; and one area plays the role of heart. I have suggested, for example, that Africa and Brazil can be seen as playing the role of heart of the world; Asia and the Pacific Islands can be seen as playing the role of stomach of the world; and Europe and North America can be seen as playing the role of brain of the world. I have also cautioned against the traditional bias of favoring the brain as opposed to the heart and the stomach, pointing out that these three areas are equal and sovereign in their own domains.

But it is important to note that these mega roles apply only to the mega level of unity among nations and continents. It does not apply to individuals. Each individual possesses the three aspects of stomach, brain, and heart. Each is free to develop one, another, or all three aspects as they see fit. And this leads us to the next point.

A Time for the “Übermensch”

A common understanding of Übermensch is offensive: it involves categorizing people on the basis of social or racial superiority. The Nazis abused this term in order to slaughter tens of millions of people. But the term Übermensch continues to have philosophical currency. It was proposed by Nietzsche–and what Nietzsche says can be loved or hated but not ignored. Thus, instead of dumping the term Übermensch in the garbage heap of ideas, I decided to look at it again and try to rescue it by defining it in a different way. I know my readers will certainly write to me and let me know how they feel about the redefinition.

A New Definition of Übermensch

Who can be an Übermensch? Anyone.

Who can be an Übermensch? Anyone.

In the back-to-the-body perspective, we offer our own take on what an Übermensch is. Very simply, an Übermensch is someone who has a well-developed and well-balanced interaction between stomach, brain, and heart. Consider, for example, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. In dealing with the migrant crisis in Germany, Ms. Merkel has shown strength (stomach), compassion (heart), and intelligence (brain). In contrast, British Prime Minister David Cameron has shown strength and intelligence, but also a bit of callousness in dealing the migrant situation. This has been pointed out to him, and the Prime Minister was quick to make some adjustments in order to show more compassion (heart).

These are example of how people are reaching out to the level of Übermensch, displaying the three aspects of stomach (strength), brain (intelligence), and heart (compassion). it is interesting to note that the historical figures whom we admire usually displayed the three aspects. Julius Cesar seems to have had the three aspects, and he was loved by the people. Churchill displayed the three aspects. King Solomon in the Bible had the three aspects. Mother Teresa had the three aspects. And so many others.

But the majority of people throughout history have focused on one or another aspect. Thus, they are not yet Übermensch. The Jews, for instance, focus on the stomach: obedience and strength. The Christians focus on the heart: to become “sponsa Christi” (the spouse of Christ). And the Muslims focus on the brain: to become obedient servants of God. In that sense, they are still on their way to complete development.

Thus, people who develop one aspect but not all three are still in the process of developing. And I hope my readers will take this the right way, because no one likes to be in the category of someone who is not yet at the highest level. To some it may seem offensive to say that people are not yet perfect. But I hope that others will take it for what it is: not an offense, but simply a statement of the infinite capacity of development for humans.

In religion, individuals who have not yet fully developed their potential are called fallen people, or sinful people. According to Christianity, for example, the standard for human life is to be perfect in the same way God is perfect (Matt 5:48). This person is someone who loves people, works hard, and has a good mind to understand things.

An Übermensch has a balance of stomach, brain, and heart.

An Übermensch has a balance of stomach, brain, and heart.

But let’s be frank: the attainment of any kind of level of perfection with harmony of stomach, brain, and heart will always be relative. So, if I say, for instance, that I consider Nelson Mandela an Übermensch, this needs to be taken in relative terms. For all of us, there is always room to grow, always room to develop–and this is a good thing. Certainly no one wants a ceiling for the development of human potential. But I think our time–right now!–has opportunities for human development that the world has never seen. This is especially true after 2012.

The Post-2012 World

One of the beliefs in the back-to-the-body perspective is that the world has changed after 2012. The possibility of becoming an Übermensch today is now available to everyone. Absolutely everyone everywhere!

Lotus flower

Lotus flower

Remarkable individuals are appearing in all corners of the world, from any background. From the ground everywhere we have lotus flowers sprouting. I believe this has been the case since the 1960s, but it is especially true today. And of course, current technology has allowed people from any background to grow and shine. Thus, I believe this is the age of the Übermensch. And this, actually, connects with the current world crisis of human migration.

The Migrants into Europe and the United States

Having presented that background, I am now ready to offer my opinion on the migrant situation in Europe and in the United States. There was a time when we expected people to stay within their borders. But the Zeitgeist of our time seems to have changed all that. It seems now that, as a natural flow, people feel free to roam the horizons wherever they may lead.

What is needed today, then, is new thinking about migration laws. There is no point in insisting in the old ways if the old ways do not work any longer. We need a way of dealing with the migration flows that accommodate people’s desire to move to wherever they think they may do better and thrive.

But of course, this needs to be mutual. If Africa wants to have its people move freely into Europe, then Europeans must likewise have the freedom to move to Africa. Likewise, if Mexico wishes to enable free access for its people into the United States, then they must likewise open their borders for anyone from the US wishing to live in Mexico.

It seems clear, then, that people today do not feel confined to their cultural spheres. They wish to develop in all directions: the stomach, the brain, and the heart. Thus, they wish to migrate to the places that best suit their desires. This seems to be a piece of evidence that humans today are attaining the level of Übermensch, in the good sense in which it was defined here. That is, people want to attain the level of a well-balanced and well-developed stomach, brain, and heart. Thus, people wish to be strong, intelligent, and at the same time, compassionate.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
September 7, 2015 — the Independence Day of Brazil

Photo Credits:

Immigrants in Europe: Author: Chris Goldberg; Source: http://bit.ly/1LTIlS2; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0).

World Map. Author: Blatant World; Source: http://bit.ly/1VJlhKk; Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

Nelson Mandela. Author: BK; Source: http://bit.ly/1KX7X1F; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Lotus Flower. Author: Amy Aletheia Cahill; Source: http://bit.ly/1LfKbK8; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Ethiopian. Author: Dietmar Temps; Source: http://bit.ly/1LTK3mp; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

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