There's no other way to describe the USA's current foreign policy towards its enemies and even its own allies
Arrogance is commonly defined as the excessive pride one has in relation to others. Hubris is beyond arrogance, as it is the condition of that same excess of pride combined with an extreme self-belief in one’s own abilities, oblivious to all others. The difference between these two terms is important to understand, as it not only relates to individuals that we must deal with on a consistent basis in our lives (or worse; one or the other may describe you or I), but it is also valuable in comprehending the larger world around us, specifically international relations between states.
The argument that hubris best describes the USA on the global stage today I think is rather solid. In fact, I wrote a piece about how and why America is behaving as it is not too long ago. My contention is that the adjective “hubristic” clearly applies to the present US course of confrontation WITH BOTH Russia and China simultaneously.
Hubris comes from the Greek word hybris, which means “presumption against the gods”. What this implies is that the hubristic individual (or group) sees no greater power than themselves, and that they are wholly sovereign, able to to bend their surroundings to their own will. This is manifested not just on the global stage, but domestically in the USA as well. One need only to look at the explosion of transgenderism, in which women are instantly christened men, and vice versa, despite biology. Or we can take a look at the “Defund the Police” movement where the conceit was that by lessening the role of police forces, crime would somehow magically decline (the opposite has happened, whether violent or non-violent). Hubris has no regard for others as the other is simply an abstraction, if thought of at all. It is the sheer manifestation of will.
This last line is where I will get in shit from the Nietzscheans, as they are proponents of the “Will to Power”. And they do have a point. The capacity for human will to overpower all sorts of challenges is what has made our species so dominant, so successful, and capable of so much more. Without willpower, we would still be on the edge of existence in hunter-gatherer groups, if we evolved that far in the first place. There is no denying the Human Will as THE engine of history and civilization.
Hubris calls for nemesis, and in one form or another it's going to get it, not as a punishment from outside but as the completion of a pattern already started.
- Mary Midgeley
One of my very intelligent readers (all of you are, especially those of you who are paying subscribers) made a comment in my Turbo America piece that “hubris calls for nemesis”. I had to dig up the quote because what he wrote stuck in my mind. Thank you for that, reader. Hubris does indeed call for nemesis, as the latter balances out the former, restoring a “harmony” to the universe. Simple Yin-Yang shit, or Manichean, if you will (some will say Gnostic as well). The Christian will not agree to this conceptual balance but concedes that “Pride Cometh Before the Fall”, with pride being listed as one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
Nic, what the fuck are you getting at? Okay, okay, I’ll get to the relevance: Hubris is the present condition of the USA on the global stage. This is best exemplified by two current facts:
the USA seeks to confront and reduce the power of both Russia and China simultaneously to preserve its own hegemony
the USA is doing absolutely nothing to pit these two targets against one another in order to engage in the tried and tested strategy of divide et impera (divide and conquer)
This unwillingness to turn China against Russia and vice versa and instead pushing the two together in an anti-American alliance shows us that the USA is so utterly confident in its own ability to shape the world in its desired image that such logical and historically successful strategies as divide and conquer don’t even enter into their own calculations. They will take on both, and even incentivize both of them to work together to try and stop them in their ambitions.