Malcom X and Nietzschean Principles

Essay by imandyCollege, UndergraduateA, March 2004

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Malcolm X's life, as much as I would like to deny it, has a striking congruency with some Nietzschean principles. Going from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, the man most famously known as Malcolm X experienced similar metamorphoses found within Nietzsche's path to overman. Malcolm X willed himself to overcome all prejudices and become great. In addition, Malcolm X used many of the new ideas Nietzsche brought to conventional wisdom. Though all this seems to make Malcolm X comparable to Nietzsche it is only partially true.

When we look at Malcolm Little, we see that as an individual he was entrenched in racist indoctrination. Just as Nietzsche believed that Christianity caused people to suffer, under racism and "white" Christianity Malcolm Little was oppressed. For example, when he believed he wanted to be a lawyer he was shot down because he was a Negro and told to become a carpenter.

In this case, we can apply the same idea that the "weak and bitter" white people encouraged him to be meek and submissive, to not be everything that he could be. Like Christianity creating a "slave morality", this racist attitude did the same. Malcolm eventually becomes addicted to drugs, a hustler, and a criminal. This is the type of destruction Nietzsche believed nihilism caused. One day Malcolm gets convicted to ten years of prison.

In prison, Malcolm gets revealed to the Nation of Islam and starts to change. Malcolm, in prison, provides an excellent example of overcoming and self-mastery by educating himself. Starting with the dictionary so to he could write letters to Elijah Muhammad to reading stacks upon stacks of books, he forces himself to absorb all the knowledge he could, especially of black culture. He even joins the debate team in prison and becomes...