While reading Nietzsche, I am confronted, once again, with the divide between Classical virtues and values and Christian virtues and values, not the divide between nihilism and Christianity, that's too boring, but the Classical/Christian split which is the tougher nut to crack.
Isaiah Berlin's The Originality of Machiavelli
echoes through the canyon too, that is, his idea that Machiavelli recommends the Classical virtues over the Christian virtues if one wants to build a strong and prosperous state.
What of the United States? How would Machiavelli and Nietzsche make sense of current political events and their justifications? I can't answer that here. I think I will try after I have done much more thinking about the questions.
In the United States, we have the supreme merging of aristocratic (?) values with Christian values in the wealthy CEO class. Government exists first of all to concentrate wealth, influence, and justification for the CEO class. I look at the distribution of income numbers and legislation and know it's true, true in the sense of what the numbers say. I arrive at my preliminary opinions about values based on the numbers.
Two hierarchies, the aristocratic and the Christian, are married. One class spans them both. What was once two sets of values blend together and are self reinforcing. The virtue charity is an interesting case.
Corporate and Christian values are powerless to prevent suffering for those at the bottom of the hierarchy. Charity provides alms to those who have suffered, and soothes the troubled conscience. It allows one to say, "well even those who suffer are a little worthy. They are kind of like human beings." However, the hierarchy values perpetuation of the hierarchy as a supreme value. Others who might be worthy of the public good are secondary to those whose wealth and faith place them on top.
Democracy is the great secular value. Give control of a democracy to the piously rich and you will have submitted to hierarchical religious and commercial values and your place in the hierarchical order. Escape is possible for the few, not the many.
These are thoughts of which I am uncertain. I am certain about science and mathematics, but I am uncertain about political philosophy. I might change my mind by the end of the day about what I have just said. Give me a sheet of paper and I can easily list my major philosophical beliefs except for my political beliefs. I suppose that is because I have not worked out exactly what are my political values. I kind of have, but 'kind of' does not count. I look for some depth beyond idle slogans.
That leaves a gap to be filled. And all the books to read and reread. And lots of hard thinking.