Leave to speak. All political parties today have in common a demagogic
character and the intention of influencing the masses; because of this intention,
all of them are obliged to transform their principles into great frescos of
stupidity, and paint them that way on the wall. Nothing more can be changed
about this-indeed, it is superfluous even to lift a finger against it;
for what Voltaire says applies here: "Quand la populace se mêle de
raissoner, tout est perdu."1 Now that this has happened, one
must adapt to the new conditions, as one adapts when an earthquake has moved
the old limits and outlines of the land, and changed the value of property.
Moreover, if the business of all politics is to make life tolerable for the
greatest number, this greatest number may also determine what they understand
by a tolerable life; if they think their intellect capable of finding the right
means to this goal, what good would it do to doubt it? They simply want to
be the architects of their own fortune and misfortune;2 and if this
feeling of self-determination, this pride in the five or six concepts
their heads contain and can bring to light, does indeed make their life so agreeable
that they gladly bear the fatal consequences of their narrowness, then there
is little to object to, provided that their narrowness does not go so far as
to demand that everything should become politics in their sense, and
that everyone should live and act according to their standard. For, first
of all, some people must be allowed (now, more than ever) to keep out of politics
and stand aside a little; the pleasure of self-determination is driving
these people, too, and there may even be a little pride involved in being silent
when too many-or only many-are speaking. Second, one must overlook
it if these few do not take the happiness of the many (whether defined as peoples,
or classes of population) so seriously, and are now and then guilty of an ironic
attitude; for them, seriousness lies elsewhere; they have a different concept
of happiness; their goal cannot be embraced by any clumsy hand with just five
fingers. Finally (and certainly this is hardest to grant them, but must also
be granted), they too have an occasional moment when they emerge from their
silent isolation and try the power of their lungs again; then they call to each
other, like men lost in a forest, to make themselves known and encourage each
other; of course, when they do, various things are heard that sound bad to ears
not meant to hear them.
Soon afterwards, it is quiet in the forest again, so quiet that one can again hear clearly the buzzing, humming, and fluttering -of the innumerable insects that live in, above, and below it.
1. "Once the populace begins to reason, all is lost." Letter to Danilaville, April 1, 1766.
2. "Jeder ist seines Glückes Schmied"(each man is the architect of his own fortune), German saying.
Culture and caste. A higher culture can come into being only where
there are two castes of society: the working caste and the idle caste, capable
of true leisure; or, to express it more emphatically, the caste of forced labor
and the caste of free labor. The distribution of happiness is not a crucial
factor when it is a matter of engendering a higher culture, but the caste of
the idle is in fact the more capable of suffering and does suffer more; its
contentment in existence is slighter; its task greater. Now, if there should
be an exchange between the two castes, so that duller, less spiritual individuals
and families from the higher caste are demoted into the lower, and, conversely,
the freer people from that caste gain admission to the higher: then a condition
has been achieved beyond which only the open sea of indefinite desires is still
Thus the fading voice of the old era speaks to us; but where are the ears left to hear it?
Of blood. Men and women of blood have an advantage over others, giving
them an indubitable claim to higher esteem, because they possess two arts, increasingly
heightened through inheritance: the art of being able to command, and the art
of proud obedience.
Now, wherever commanding is part of the daily routine (as in the great world of big business and industry), something similar to those generations "of blood" comes into being, but they lack the noble bearing in obedience, which the former inherited from feudal conditions, and which will no longer grow in our cultural climate.
Subordination. The subordination that is valued so highly in military
and bureaucratic states will soon become as unbelievable to us as the secret
tactics of the Jesuits have already become; and when this subordination is no
longer possible, it will no longer be possible to achieve a number of its most
astonishing consequences, and the world will be the poorer. Subordination must
vanish, for its basis is vanishing: belief in absolute authority, in ultimate
truth. Even in military states, physical coercion is not sufficient to produce
subordination; rather it requires an inherited adoration of princeliness, as
of something superhuman.
In freer situations, one subordinates himself only on conditions, as a consequence of a mutual contract, that is, without any prejudice to self-interest.
Conscript army. The greatest disadvantage of the conscript army, now
so widely acclaimed, consists in the squandering of men of the highest civilization;
they exist at all only when every circumstance is favorable-how sparingly
and anxiously one should deal with them, since it requires great periods of
time to create the chance conditions for the production of such delicately organized
brains! But just as the Greeks wallowed in Greek blood, so Europeans are now
wallowing in European blood; and, in fact, it is the men of highest culture
who are always sacrificed in the relatively greatest number, the men who guarantee
an abundant and good posterity; for these men stand as commanders in the front
lines of a battle, and moreover, because of their greater ambition, expose themselves
most to dangers.
Nowadays, when quite different and higher tasks are set than patria and honor, crude Roman patriotism is either something dishonest, or a sign of backwardness.
Hope as arrogance. Our social order will slowly melt away, as all earlier orders have done when the suns of new ideas shone forth with new warmth over the people. One can desire this melting only in that one has hope; and one may reasonably have hope only if one credits his own heart and head, and that of his equals, with more strength than one credits to the representatives of the existing order. Usually, then, this hope will be arrogance, an overestimation.
War. One can say against war that it makes the victor stupid and the vanquished malicious. In favor of war, one can say that it barbarizes through both these effects and thus makes man more natural; war is the sleep or wintertime of culture: man emerges from it with more strength, both for the good and for the bad.
In the service of princes. In order to act with complete inconsideration, a statesman will do best to carry out his work not for himself, but for his prince. The spectator's eye will be so blinded by the shine of this overall selflessness that he will not see the wiles and severities which the statesman's work brings with it.
A question of power, not justice. For men who always consider the higher
usefulness of a matter, socialism, if it really is the uprising against
their oppressors of people oppressed and kept down for thousands of years, poses
no problem of justice (with the ludicrous, weak question: "How far
should one yield to its demands?"), but only a problem of power ( "To
what extent can one use its demands?"). So it is like a natural
power-steam, for example-which is either forced by man, as a god
of machines, into his service, or, when there are mistakes in the machine (that
is, errors of human calculation in its construction), wrecks itself and the
human with it. To solve that question of power, one must know how strong socialism
is, and in which of its modifications it can still be used as a mighty lever within the current
political power game; in some circumstances one would even have to do everything
possible to strengthen it. With every great force (even the most dangerous),
humanity must think how to make it into a tool of its own intentions.
Socialism gains a right only when the two powers, the representatives of the old and new, seem to have come to war, but then both parties prudently calculate how they may preserve themselves to best advantage, and this results in their desire for a treaty. No justice without a treaty. Until now, however, there has been neither war in the indicated territory, nor treaties, and thus no rights, and no "ought" either.
Use of the smallest dishonesty. The power of the press consists in the fact that every individual who serves it feels only slightly pledged or bound to it. He usually gives his opinion, but sometimes does not give it, in order to help his party or the politics of his country, or even himself. Such little misdemeanors of dishonesty, or perhaps only of dishonest reticence, are not hard for the individual to bear; and yet the consequences are extraordinary, because these little misdemeanors are committed by many people at the same time. Each of these people says to himself, "For such petty services I live better and can make my livelihood; if I fail in such little considerations, I make myself impossible." Because it almost seems that writing one line more or less, and perhaps even without a signature, makes no difference morally, a man who has money and influence can turn any opinion into the public one. Whoever realizes that most people are weak in small things, and wants to attain his own purposes through them, is always a dangerous human being.
Complaining too loudly. When the description of an emergency (the crimes
of an administration, or bribery and favoritism in political or scholarly corporations,
for example) is greatly exaggerated, it does of course have less of an effect
on insightful people, but it has all the greater effect on the uninsightful
(who would have remained indifferent to a careful, measured presentation). But
since the uninsightful are considerably in the majority, and harbor within themselves
greater strength of will and a more vehement desire for action, the exaggeration
will lead to investigations, punishments, promises, and reorganizations.
To that extent, it is useful to exaggerate when describing emergencies.
The apparent weather-makers of politics. Just as people secretly assume that a man who knows something about the weather and can predict it a day in advance actually makes the weather, so even educated and learned men, calling on superstitious belief, attribute all the important changes and conjunctures that occurred during the government of great statesmen to them, as their own work, when it is only too clear that they knew something about it sooner than the others and made their calculations accordingly; thus they, too, are taken as weather-makers-and this belief is not the least tool of their power.
New and old concept of government. To differentiate between government and people, as if two separate spheres of power, one stronger and higher, the other weaker and lower, were negotiating and coming to agreement, is a bit of inherited political sensibility that still accords exactly with the historical establishment of the power relationship in most states. When, for example, Bismarck describes the constitutional form as a compromise between government and people, he is speaking according to a principle that has its reason in history (which is, of course, also the source for that portion of unreason, without which nothing human can exist). By contrast, we are now supposed to learn (according to a principle that has sprung from the head alone, and is supposed to make history) that government is nothing but an organ of the people, and not a provident, honorable "Above" in relationship to a habitually humble "Below." Before one accepts this formulation of the concept of government, which is as yet unhistorical and arbitrary, if more logical, we might consider the consequences: for the relationship between people and government is the strongest model relationship, according to which the interactions between teacher and pupil, head of the house and servants, father and family, commander-in-chief and soldier, master and apprentice, are automatically patterned. All these relationships are now being slightly transformed, under the influence of the prevailing constitutional form of government: they are becoming compromises. But how will they have to reverse and displace themselves, changing name and nature, when that very newest concept of government has captured everyone's mind! But it will probably take another century for that. In this regard, there is nothing to wish for more than caution and slow development.
Justice as a party's lure. Noble
(if not exactly very insightful) representatives of the ruling class may well
vow to treat people as equals, and grant them equal rights. To that extent,
a socialistic way of thought, based on justice, is possible; but, as
we said, only within the ruling class, which in this case practices justice
by its sacrifices and renunciations. On the other hand, to demand equality
of rights, as do the socialists of the subjugated caste, never results from
justice but rather covetousness.
If one shows the beast bloody pieces of meat close by, and then draws them away again until it finally roars, do you think this roar means justice?
Possession and justice. When socialists prove that the distribution of wealth in present-day society is the consequence of countless injustices and atrocities, rejecting in summa the obligation towards anything so unjustly established, they are seeing one particular thing only. The whole past of the old culture is built on violence, slavery, deception, error; but we, the heirs of all these conditions, indeed the convergence of that whole past, cannot decree ourselves away, and cannot want to remove one particular part. The unjust frame of mind lies in the souls of the "have-nots," too; they are no better than the "haves," and have no special moral privilege, for at some point their forefathers were "haves," too. We do not need forcible new distributions of property, but rather gradual transformations of attitude; justice must become greater in everyone, and the violent instinct weaker.
The helmsman of passions. The statesman creates public passions in order
to profit from the counterpassion they awaken. To take an example: a German
statesman knows well that the Catholic Church will never have the same plans
as Russia, indeed that it would much rather ally itself with the Turks than
with Russia; he likewise knows that Germany is greatly threatened by the danger
of an alliance of France with Russia. Now, if he can succeed in making France
the hearth and home of the Catholic Church, he will have eliminated this danger
for a long time to come. Thus he has an interest in showing hatred towards the
Catholics and, by hostilities of all kinds, transforming believers in the Pope's
authority into a passionate political power that is inimical to German politics
and must naturally merge with France, as Germany's adversary. He aims as necessarily
at the Catholicization of France, as Mirabeau3 saw the salvation
of his fatherland in its de-Catholicization.
Thus, one state desires to cloud millions of minds in another state, in order to derive its benefit from this clouding. This is the same attitude that supports the neighboring states' republican form of government-"le désorde organisé "4, as Merimée saysfor the sole reason that it assumes it will make the people weaker, more divided, and less able to wage war.
3. Honoré Gabriel de Riqueti, Count de Mirabeau (1749-91), French statesman.
4. "organized disorder" (Lettres à une inconnue, 2, 372).
Dangerous subversive spirits. One can divide those who are intent on overthrowing society into the ones who want to gain something for themselves, and the ones who want to gain it for their children and grandchildren. The latter are the more dangerous; for they have faith, and the good conscience of selflessness. The others can be diverted: the ruling society is still rich and clever enough for that. Danger begins when goals become impersonal; revolutionaries whose interest is impersonal may regard all defenders of the existing order as having a personal interest, and may therefore feel superior to them.
Political value of paternity. If a man has no sons, he has no full right to speak about the needs of a single matter of state. He has to have risked with the others what is most precious to him; only then is he bound firmly to the state. One must consider the happiness of one's descendants, and so, above all, have descendants, in order to take a proper, natural part in all institutions and their transformation. The development of higher morality depends on a man's having sons: this makes him unselfish, or, more exactly, it expands his selfishness over time, and allows him seriously to pursue goals beyond his individual lifetime.
Pride in ancestors. One can justly be proud of an unbroken line of good ancestors, up to one's father-but not proud of the line, for everyone has that. The descent from good ancestors makes up true nobility of birth; one single interruption in that chain, one evil ancestor, and the nobility of birth is cancelled out. Everyone who speaks of his nobility should be asked whether he has no violent, greedy, dissolute, malicious, or cruel man among his ancestors. If he can thereupon answer "no" in good conscience, one should court his friendship.
Slaves and workers. That we lay more value on satisfying our vanity
than on all other comforts (security, shelter, pleasure of all kinds) is revealed
to a ludicrous degree by the fact that (except for political reasons) everyone
desires the abolition of slavery, and utterly abhors bringing men into this
state: while each of us must admit that slaves live more securely and happily
than the modern worker in all regards, and that slave labor is very little labor,
compared to that of the "worker." One protests in the name of human
dignity, but expressed more plainly, that is that good old vanity, which experiences
Not-being-equal-to or Publicly-being-esteemed-lower as the harshest fate.
The cynic thinks differently about the matter, because he scorns honor-and so for a time Diogenes5 was a slave and a tutor.
5. Greek Cynic philosopher (415?-323 B.C.).
Guiding minds and their tools. We see that great statesmen, and in general all those who must use many men to execute their plans, proceed now in one way, now in another: either they choose very subtly and carefully the men who suit their plans, and then give them relatively great freedom, knowing that the nature of these select men is driving them exactly to where they themselves wish to have them; or else they choose badly, indeed, take whatever falls into their hands, but then form each piece of clay into something fit for their purposes. This last sort is the more violent; they also desire more submissive tools; their knowledge of human psychology is usually much less, their disdain for humans greater than among the first-named minds; but the machine that they construct usually works better than the machine from the workshops of the former.
Arbitrary law necessary. Lawyers argue whether that law which is most
thoroughly thought out, or that which is easiest to understand should prevail
in a people. The first type, whose greatest model is Roman law, seems incomprehensible
to the layman and therefore no expression of his sense of justice. Popular laws,
like the Germanic, for example, were crude, superstitious, illogical, in part
silly, but they reflected quite specific inherited native customs and feelings.
But when law is no longer a tradition, as in our case, it can only be commanded, or forced; none of us has a traditional sense of justice any longer; therefore we must content ourselves with arbitrary laws, which express the necessity of having to have a law. Then, the most logical law is the most acceptable, because it is the most impartial, even admitting that, in the relationship of crime and punishment, the smallest unit of measure is always set arbitrarily.
The great man of the masses. It is easy to give the recipe for what the masses call a great man. By all means, supply them with something that they find very pleasant, or, first, put the idea into their heads that this or that would be very pleasant, and then give it to them. But on no account immediately: let it rather be won with great exertion, or let it seem so. The masses must have the impression that a mighty, indeed invincible, strength of will is present; at least it must seem to be there. Everyone admires a strong will, because no one has it, and everyone tells himself that, if he had it, there would be no more limits for him and his egoism. Now, if it appears that this strong will is producing something very pleasant for the masses, instead of listening to its own covetous desires, then everyone admires it all the more, and congratulates himself. For the rest, let him have all the characteristics of the masses: the less they are ashamed before him, the more popular he is. So, let him be violent, envious, exploitative, scheming, fawning, grovelling, puffed up, or, according to the circumstances, all of the above.
Prince and God. Men often deal with their princes in a similar way as with their God, since after all the Prince was often God's representative, or at least his high priest. This almost uncanny feeling of reverence and fear and shame had, and has, become much weaker, but sometimes it flares up and attaches to powerful people generally. Worship of the genius is an echo of this reverence for gods and princes. Wherever one endeavors to elevate individual men to the superhuman, the tendency also exists to imagine whole classes of people as rougher and more base than they really are.
My utopia. In a better social order, the hard work and misery of life will be allotted to the man who suffers least from it, that is, to the dullest man, and so on step by step upwards to the man who is most sensitive to the highest, most sublimated kind of suffering, and therefore suffers even when life is most greatly eased.
A delusion in the theory of subversion. There are political and social
visionaries who hotly and eloquently demand the overthrow of all orders, in
the belief that the proudest temple of fair humanity would then immediately
rise up on its own. In these dangerous dreams, there is still the echo of Rousseau's
superstition, which believes in a wondrous, innate, but, as it were, repressed
goodness of human nature, and attributes all the blame for that repression
to the institutions of culture, in society, state, and education.6
Unfortunately, we know from historical experience that every such overthrow
once more resurrects the wildest energies, the long since buried horrors and
extravagances of most distant times. An overthrow can well be a source of energy
in an exhausted human race, but it can never be an organizer, architect artist,
perfecter of the human character.
It is not Voltaire's temperate nature, inclined to organizing cleansing, and restructuring, but rather Rousseau's passionate idiocies and half-truths that have called awake the optimistic spirit of revolution, counter to which I shout: "Ecrasez l'infame!"7 Because of him,8 the spirit of enlightenment and of progressive development has been scared off for a long time to come: let us see (each one for himself) whether it is not possible to call it back again!
6. Cf. Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Discourses, on arts and sciences (1749)), and on the origin of inequality (1755).
7. "Crush the infamous thing!" In his letter to d'Alembert on November 28, 1762, Voltaire was referring to superstition.
8. Durch ihn could mean either "because of him," i.e., Rousseau, or "because of it," i.e., the spirit of revolution.
Moderation. Complete decisiveness in thought and inquirythat is, free-thinking, when it has become a quality of charactermakes men moderate in behavior: for it reduces covetousness, draws much of the available energy to itself in order to advance spiritual ends, and shows what is half-useful or useless and dangerous about all sudden changes.
Resurrection of the spirit. On its political sickbed, a people usually regenerates itself and finds its spirit again, which had been lost gradually in the seeking and claiming of power. Culture owes its highest achievements to politically weakened times.
New beliefs in the old house. The overthrow of beliefs is not immediately followed by the overthrow of institutions; rather, the new beliefs live for a long time in the now desolate and eerie house of their predecessors, which they themselves preserve, because of the housing shortage.
The educational system. The educational system in large states will always be mediocre at best, for the same reason that the cooking in large kitchens is at best mediocre.
Innocent corruption. In all institutions that do not feel the sharp wind of public criticism (as, for example, in scholarly organizations and senates), an innocent corruption grows up, like a mushroom.
Scholars as politicians. Scholars who become politicians are usually given the comic role of having to be the good conscience of a policy.
The wolf hidden behind the sheep. In certain situations, almost every politician needs an honest man so badly that, like a ravenous wolf, he breaks into a sheeppen: not, however, in order to eat the ram he has stolen, but rather to hide behind its woolly back.
Happy times. A happy era is completely impossible, because men want
only to desire it, but not to have it, and every individual, if he has good
days, learns virtually to pray for unrest and misery. The destiny of men is
designed for happy moments (every life has those), but not for happy
eras. Nevertheless, this idea, as a heritage of past ages,9 will
endure in the human imagination as "the place beyond the mountains,"
for since ancient times, the concept of the age of happiness has been inferred
from that state when, after powerfully exerting himself in hunting or war, man
surrenders to rest, stretches his limbs, and hears the wings of slumber rustle
around him. It is a false conclusion when man imagines, according to that old
habit of mind, that after whole periods of misery and toil, he could
experience such a state of happiness in corresponding intensity and duration.
9. Vorzeiten . In some editions Urväter (ancestors)
Religion and government. As long as the state, or more precisely, the
government knows that it is appointed as trustee on behalf of a group of people
in their minority, and for their sake considers the question whether religion
is to be preserved or eliminated, it will most probably always decide to preserve
religion. For religion appeases the individual soul in times of loss, privation,
fear, or mistrust, that is, when government feels itself unable to do anything
directly to alleviate the private man's inner suffering; even during universal,
inevitable, and initially unpreventable misfortunes (famines, financial crises,
wars), religion gives the masses a calm, patient and trusting bearing. Wherever
the necessary or coincidental failings of a state government, or the dangerous
consequences of dynastic interests catch the eye of a man of insight and make
him recalcitrant, the uninsightful will think they are seeing
the finger of God, and will submit patiently to the directives from Above
(in which concept, divine and human ways of government are usually merged).
Thus the citizens' inner peace and a continuity of development will be preserved.
Religion protects and seals the power that lies in the unity of popular sentiment,
in identical opinions and goals for all, discounting those rare cases when a
priesthood and the state power cannot agree about the price and enter into battle.
Usually, the state will know how to win the priests over, because it needs their
most private, secret education of souls and knows how to appreciate servants
who seem outwardly to represent a quite different interest. Without the help
of priests, no power can become "legitimate" even now-as Napoleon
Thus, absolute tutelary government and the careful preservation of religion necessarily go together. It is to be presumed that ruling persons and classes will be enlightened about the benefit provided them by religion, and thus feel somewhat superior to it, in that they are using it as a tool: and this is the origin of freethinking.
But what if a quite different view of the concept of government, as it is taught in democratic states, begins to prevail? If one sees in government nothing but the instrument of popular will, no Above in contrast to a Below, but solely a function of the single sovereign, the people? Then the government can only take the same position toward religion that the people hold; any spread of enlightenment will have to reverberate right into its representatives; it will not be so easy to use or exploit religious energies and comforts for state purposes (unless powerful party leaders occasionally exert an influence similar to that of enlightened despotism). But if the state may no longer draw any use from religion itself, or if the people think so variously about religious matters that the government cannot take uniform, unified measures regarding religion, then the necessary alternative will appear to be to treat religion as a private matter and consign it to the conscience and habits of each individual. At the very first, the result is that religious feeling appears to be strengthened, to the extent that hidden or repressed stirrings of it, which the state had unwittingly or deliberately stifled, now break out and exceed all limits; later, it turns out that religion is overrun with sects, and that an abundance of dragon's teeth had been sown at the moment when religion was made a private affair. Finally, the sight of the strife, and the hostile exposure of all the weaknesses of religious confessions allow no other alternative but that every superior and more gifted man makes irreligiosity his private concern. Then this attitude also prevails in the minds of those who govern, and gives, almost against their will, an antireligious character to the measures they take. As soon as this happens, the people who are still moved by religion, and who used to adore the state as something half-divine or wholly divine, develop an attitude decidedly hostile to the state; they attack government measures, try to impede, cross, disturb as much as they can, and because their opposition is so heated, they drive the other party, the irreligious one, into an almost fanatical enthusiasm for the state; also contributing secretly to this is the fact that, since they parted from religion, the nonreligious have had a feeling of emptiness and are provisionally trying to create a substitute, a kind of fulfillment, through devotion to the state. After these transitional struggles, which may last a long time, it is finally decided whether the religious parties are still strong enough to resurrect an old state of affairs and turn the wheel back-in which case, the state inevitably falls into the hands of enlightened despotism (perhaps less enlightened and more fearful than before)-or whether the nonreligious parties prevail, undermining and finally thwarting the propagation of their opponents for a few generations, perhaps by means of schools and education. Yet their enthusiasm for the state will also diminish then. It becomes more and more clear that when religious adoration, which makes the state into a mysterium, a transcendent institution, is shaken, so is the reverent and pious relationship to the state. Henceforth, individuals see only the side of it that can be helpful or harmful to them; they press forward with all the means in their power to get an influence over it. But soon this competition becomes too great; men and parties switch too quickly; too impetuously, they throw each other down from the mountain, after they have scarcely arrived at the top. There is no guarantee that any measure a government puts through will endure; people shy away from undertakings that would have to grow quietly over decades or centuries in order to produce ripe fruit. No longer does anyone feel an obligation toward a law, other than to bow instantaneously to the power that introduced it; at once, however, people begin to undermine it with a new power, a new majority yet to be formed. Finally (one can state it with certainty) the distrust of anything that governs, the insight into the uselessness and irritation of these short-lived struggles, must urge men to a quite new decision: the abolition of the concept of the state, the end of the antithesis "private and public." Step by step, private companies incorporate state businesses; even the most stubborn vestige of the old work of governing (for example, that activity which is supposed to secure private parties against other private parties) will ultimately be taken care of by private contractors. Neglect, decline, and death of the state, the unleashing of the private person (I am careful not to say "of the individual")-this is the result of the democratic concept of the state; this is its mission. If it has fulfilled its task (which, like everything human, includes much reason and unreason), if all the relapses of the old illness have been overcome, then a new leaf in the storybook of humanity will be turned; on it one will read all sorts of strange histories, and perhaps some good things as well.
To recapitulate briefly, the interests of tutelary government and the interests of religion go together hand in hand, so that if the latter begins to die out, the foundation of the state will also be shaken. The belief in a divine order of political affairs, in a mysterium in the existence of the state, has a religious origin; if religion disappears, the state will inevitably lose its old veil of Isis10 and no longer awaken awe. The sovereignty of the people, seen closely, serves to scare off even the last trace of magic and superstition contained in these feelings; modern democracy is the historical form of the decline of the state.
But the prospect resulting from this certain decline is not an unhappy one in every respect: of all their qualities, men's cleverness and selfishness are the best developed; when the state no longer satisfies the demands of these energies, chaos will be the last thing to occur. Rather, an invention even more expedient than the state will triumph over the state. Mankind has already seen many an organizational power die out, for example, associations by sex, which for thousands of years were much more powerful than the family, indeed held sway and organized society long before the family existed. We ourselves are witnessing how the significant legal and political idea of the family, which once ruled as far as Roman culture reached, is growing ever fainter and feebler. Thus a later generation will also see the state become meaningless in certain stretches of the earth-an idea that many men today can hardly contemplate without fear and abhorrence. To be sure, to work on the spread and realization of this idea is something else again: one must have a very arrogant opinion of his own reason and only a superficial understanding of history to set his hand to the plough right now-while there is still no one who can show us the seeds that are to be strewn afterwards on the ravaged earth. So let us trust to "men's cleverness and selfishness" that the state will still endure for a good while, and that the destructive efforts of overzealous and rash pretenders to knowledge will be repulsed!
10. Egyptian fertility goddess, whose cult spread throughout the Roman Empire
Socialism in respect to its means. Socialism is the visionary younger
brother of an almost decrepit despotism, whose heir it wants to be. Thus its
efforts are reactionary in the deepest sense. For it desires a wealth of executive
power, as only despotism had it; indeed, it outdoes everything in the past by
striving for the downright destruction of the individual, which it sees as an
unjustified luxury of nature, and which it intends to improve into an expedient
organ of the community. Socialism crops up in the vicinity of all excessive
displays of power because of its relation to it, like the typical old socialist
Plato, at the court of the Sicilian tyrant;11 it desires (and in
certain circumstances, furthers) the Caesarean power state of this century,
because, as we said, it would like to be its heir. But even this inheritance
would not suffice for its purposes; it needs the most submissive subjugation
of all citizens to the absolute state, the like of which has never existed.
And since it cannot even count any longer on the old religious piety towards
the state, having rather always to work automatically to eliminate piety (because
it works on the elimination of all existing states), it can only hope
to exist here and there for short periods of time by means of the most extreme
terrorism. Therefore, it secretly prepares for reigns of terror, and drives
the word "justice" like a nail into the heads of the semieducated
masses, to rob them completely of their reason (after this reason has already
suffered a great deal from its semieducation), and to give them a good conscience
for the evil game that they are supposed to play.
Socialism can serve as a rather brutal and forceful way to teach the danger of all accumulations of state power, and to that extent instill one with distrust of the state itself. When its rough voice chimes in with the battle cry "As much state as possible," it will at first make the cry noisier than ever; but soon the opposite cry will be heard with strength the greater: "As little state as possible."
11. In 388 B.C. Plato visited the court of the Sicilian tyrant Dionysius the Elder in Syracuse, where he returned in 367 and 361 B.C., hoping to realize his political ideals there.
The development of the spirit, feared by the state. Like every organizational
political power, the Greek polls spurned and distrusted the increase of culture
among its citizens; its powerful natural impulse was to do almost nothing but
cripple and obstruct it. The polls did not want to permit to culture any history
or evolution; the education determined by the law of the land was intended to
bind all generations and keep them at one level. Later, Plato, too, wanted it
no different for his ideal state. So culture developed in spite of the
polls; the polls helped indirectly, of course, and involuntarily, because in
it an individual's ambition was stimulated greatly, so that once he had come
to the path of intellectual development, he pursued that, too, as far as it
would go. One should not evoke Pericles' panegyric 12 as refutation,
for it is only a great, optimistic delusion about the allegedly necessary connection
between the polls and Athenian civilization; just before the night falls on
Athens (the plague and the break with tradition), Thucydides lets it13
shine resplendent once again, like a transfiguring sunset, at whose sight we
are to forget the bad day that went before it.
12. In Thucydides, 2.35-46 (cf. n. 12 to Section Five).
13. "It" can refer either to "civilization" or "panegyric."
The European man and the destruction of nations. Commerce and industry,
tragic in books and letters, the commonality of all higher culture, quick changes
of locality and landscape, the present-day nomadic life of all nonlandowners-these
conditions necessarily bring about a weakening and ultimately a destruction
of nations, or at least of European nations; so that a mixed race, that of the
European man, has to originate out of all of them, as the result of continual
crossbreeding. The isolation of nations due to engendered national hostilities
now works against this goal, consciously or unconsciously, but the mixing process
goes on slowly, nevertheless, despite those intermittent countercurrents; this
artificial nationalism, by the way, is as dangerous as artificial Catholicism
was, for it is in essence a forcible state of emergency and martial law, imposed
by the few on the many, and requiring cunning, lies, and force to remain respectable.
It is not the self-interest of the many (the people), as one would have
it, that urges this nationalism, but primarily the self-interest of certain
royal dynasties, as well as that of certain commercial and social classes; once
a man has understood this, he should be undaunted in presenting himself as a
good European, and should work actively on the merging of nations. The
Germans, because of their age-old, proven trait of being the nations'
interpreter and mediator, will be able to help in this process.
Incidentally, the whole problem of the Jews exists only within national states, inasmuch as their energy and higher intelligence, their capital of spirit and will, which accumulated from generation to generation in the long school of their suffering, must predominate to a degree that awakens envy and hatred; and so, in the literature of nearly all present-day nations (and, in fact, in proportion to their renewed nationalistic behavior), there is an increase in the literary misconduct that leads the Jews to the slaughterhouse, as scapegoats for every possible public and private misfortune. As soon as it is no longer a matter of preserving nations, but rather of producing the strongest possible mixed European race, the Jew becomes as useful and desirable an ingredient as any other national quantity. Every nation, every man has disagreeable, even dangerous characteristics; it is cruel to demand that the Jew should be an exception. Those characteristics may even be especially dangerous and frightful in him, and perhaps the youthful Jew of the stock exchange is the most repugnant invention of the whole human race. Nevertheless, I would like to know how much one must excuse in the overall accounting of a people which, not without guilt on all our parts, has had the most sorrowful history of all peoples, and to whom we owe the noblest human being (Christ), the purest philosopher (Spinoza), the mightiest book, and the most effective moral code in the world. Furthermore, in the darkest medieval times, when the Asiatic cloud had settled heavily over Europe, it was the Jewish freethinkers, scholars, and doctors, who, under the harshest personal pressure, held fast to the banner of enlightenment and intellectual independence, and defended Europe against Asia; we owe to their efforts not least, that a more natural, rational, and in any event unmythical explanation of the world could finally triumph again, and that the ring of culture which now links us to the enlightenment of Greco-Roman antiquity, remained unbroken. If Christianity did everything possible to orientalize the Occident, then Judaism helped substantially to occidentalize it again and again, which, in a certain sense, is to say that it made Europe's history and task into a continuation of the Greek.
Apparent superiority of the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages offers in the church an institution with a quite universal goal, comprehending all men, and aimed at their (supposed) highest interest; in contrast to it, the goals of states and nations, which modern history offers, make a disheartening impression; they appear petty, low, materialistic, geographically narrow. But we should not form our judgments because of these different impressions on our imagination; for the universal institution of the church was reflecting artificial needs, based on fictions, which, if they were not yet present, it first had to produce (need for redemption). The new institutions help in real states of need; and the time is coming when institutions will be formed in order to serve the common, true needs of all men, and to place that fantastic prototype, the Catholic Church, into the shadows of oblivion.
War essential. It is vain rhapsodizing and sentimentality14
to continue to expect much (even more, to expect a very great deal) from mankind,
once it has learned not to wage war. For the time being, we know of no other
means to imbue exhausted peoples, as strongly and surely as every great war
does, with that raw energy of the battleground, that deep impersonal hatred,
that murderous coldbloodedness with a good conscience, that communal, organized
ardor in destroying the enemy, that proud indifference to great losses, to one's
own existence and to that of one's friends, that muted, earthquakelike convulsion
of the soul. Afterwards, if conditions are favorable, the brooks and streams
that have broken forth, rolling stones and all kinds of debris along with them,
and destroying the meadows of delicate cultures, will start to turn the wheels
in the workshops of the spirit with new strength. Culture absolutely cannot
do without passions, vices, and acts of malice.
When the Imperial Romans had tired somewhat of wars, they tried to gain new strength by animal-baiting, gladiator contests, and the persecution of Christians. The present-day English, who seem in general also to have renounced war, are using another means to produce anew those fading strengths: they have undertaken dangerous voyages of discovery, crossed oceans, climbed mountains-for scientific purposes, as is said, in truth to bring surplus energy home with them from every sort of adventure and danger. People will discover many other such surrogates for war, but perhaps that will make them understand ever more clearly that such a highly cultivated, and therefore necessarily weary humanity as that of present-day Europe, needs not only wars but the greatest and most terrible wars (that is, occasional relapses into barbarism) in order not to forfeit to the means of culture its culture and its very existence.
14. eitel Schwärmerei and Schönseelenthum
3 Industriousness in South and North. Industriousness comes about in
two very different ways. Craftsmen in the South do not become industrious from
an acquisitive drive, but rather from the constant needs of others. Because
someone is always coming to have his horse shod, or his wagon repaired, the
smith is industrious. If no one came, he would lie about the marketplace. It
is not so difficult to subsist in a fertile land; to do so, he would need only
a very small amount of work, and certainly no industriousness; in the end, he
would go begging and be content.
The industriousness of an English worker, on the other hand, has acquisitiveness behind it: he is aware of himself and his goals; he wants to attain power with his property, and, with his power, the greatest possible freedom and individual distinction.
Wealth as the source of a nobility of the blood. Wealth necessarily
produces an aristocracy of race, for it permits one to select the most beautiful
women and to pay the best teachers; it allows a person to be clean, to have
time for physical exercise, and, above all, to avoid dulling physical labor.
It provides all the conditions to enable men, in a few generations, to move
and even behave elegantly and beautifully: greater freedom of feeling, the absence
of miserable pettiness, of degradation before one's employers, of penny thrift.
For a young man, precisely these negative advantages are the richest birthright of good fortune; a very poor man with a noble nature usually destroys himself: he does not advance and acquires nothing; his race is not viable.
But one must also remember that the effects of wealth are almost the same if a man is permitted to consume three hundred talers a year, or thirty thousand: then we no longer find any substantial heightening of favorable conditions. But to have less, to beg as a boy, and to debase oneself, is terrible, though it may be the right point of departure for those who want to try their luck in the splendor of the courts, in submission to the mighty and influential, or for those who want to be heads of churches. (It teaches how to slink bent over into the underground passageways of favor.)
Envy and sloth in different directions. The two opposing parties, the
socialistic and the nationalistic (or however they are called in Europe's various
countries) deserve one another: in both of them, envy and laziness are the moving
powers. In the one camp, people want to work as little as possible with their
hands; in the other, as little as possible with their heads; in nationalism,
men hate and envy the outstanding individuals who develop on their own and are
not willing to let themselves be placed into the rank and file for the purpose
of a mass action; in socialism, men hate and envy the better caste of society,
outwardly in a more favorable position, whose actual duty-the production
of the highest goods of culture-makes life inwardly all the more difficult
and painful. Of course, if one can succeed in turning that spirit of mass action
into the spirit of the higher social classes, then the socialistic throngs are
quite right to try to bring themselves, externally too, to the level of the
former, since inwardly, in heart and head, they are already on the same level.
Live as higher men, and persist in doing the deeds of higher culture-then everything alive will grant you your rights, and the social order, whose peak you represent, will be preserved from any evil eye or hand.
Great politics and its losses. War and readiness for war do not cause a people to suffer its greatest losses because of the costs, the obstructions in trade and commerce, or the need to provide for the standing armies (however great these losses may be now, when eight European states spend the sum of two to three billion on them annually). Rather, its greatest loss is that, year in and year out, the ablest, strongest, most industrious men are taken in extraordinary numbers from their own occupations and professions in order to be soldiers. Similarly, a people that prepares to engage in great politics and secure a decisive voice among the mightiest states does not suffer its greatest losses in the most obvious place. It is true that thenceforth it continually sacrifices a large number of its most outstanding talents on the "Altar of the Fatherland," or to national ambition, while earlier, instead of being devoured by politics, they had other spheres of action open to them. But off to the side from these public hecatombs, and fundamentally much more frightful, a show goes on continually in one hundred thousand simultaneous acts: each able, industrious, intelligent, ambitious man of a people greedy for political glory is ruled by this greed and no longer belongs entirely to his own cause, as he did before; every day, new questions and cares of the public good consume a daily tribute, taken from every citizen's mental and emotional capital: the sum of all these sacrifices and losses of individual energy and labor is so enormous, that, almost necessarily, the political flowering of a people is followed by an intellectual impoverishment and exhaustion, a decreased ability to produce works that demand great concentration and singlemindedness. Finally, one may ask whether all this blossoming and splendor of the whole (which, after all, is only expressed as other states' fear of the new colossus, and the patronage, wrung from abroad, of national commerce and trade)-whether it is worth it, if all the nobler, more tender and spiritual plants once produced in such abundance on its soil have to be sacrificed to this gross and gaudy national flower.
To say it again. Public opinions-private laziness. 15
15. Nietzsche is quoting this line from the third of his Untimely Meditations, "Schopenhauer as Educator." It is also the subtitle of The Fable of the Bees by Bernard de Mandeville (1670-1733).