Classic EssaysNietzsche

Nietzsche as Spiritual Warrior — Twilight of the Idols (Part 3 of 4)

Everyone familiar with the world of ideas has heard the term “Nietzschean” invoked as an allusion to the purported beliefs of the great German philosopher, but what does this term really mean and why does it matter? In part three of Nietzsche as Spiritual Warrior, National Vanguard will explore Nietzsche’s case that liberal morality is the result of a softness which, far from being a measure of “progress,” actually represents nothing but weakness and decay. The following excerpts are still from Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols.

by Friedrich Nietzsche

WHETHER WE have become more moral. — Against my conception of “beyond good and evil” — as was to be expected — the whole ferocity of moral hebetation, mistaken for morality itself in Germany, as is well known, has gone into action: I could tell fine stories about that. Above all I was asked to consider the “undeniable superiority” of our age in moral judgment, the real progress we have made here: compared with us, a Cesare Borgia is by no means to be represented after any manner as a “higher man,” a kind of overman. A Swiss editor of the Bund went so far that he “understood” the meaning of my work — not without expressing his respect for my courage and daring — to be a demand for the abolition of all decent feelings. Thank you! In reply, I take the liberty of raising the question whether we have really become more moral. That all the world believes this to be the case merely constitutes an objection.

We modern men, very tender, very easily hurt, and offering as well as receiving consideration a hundredfold, really have the conceit that this tender humanity which we represent, this attained unanimity in sympathetic regard, in readiness to help, in mutual trust, represents positive progress; and that in this respect we are far above the men of the Renaissance. But that is how every age thinks, how it must think. What is certain is that we may not place ourselves in renaissance conditions, not even by an act of thought: our nerves would not endure that reality, not to speak of our muscles. But such incapacity does not prove progress, only another, later constitution, one which is weaker, frailer, more easily hurt, and which necessarily generates a morality rich in consideration. Were we to think away our frailty and lateness, our physiological senescence, then our morality of “humanization” would immediately lose its value too (in itself, no morality has any value) — it would even arouse disdain. On the other hand, let us not doubt that we moderns, with our thickly padded humanity, which at all costs wants to avoid bumping into a stone, would have provided Cesare Borgia’s contemporaries with a comedy at which they could have laughed themselves to death. Indeed, we are unwittingly funny beyond all measure with our modern “virtues.”

The decrease in instincts which are hostile and arouse mistrust — and that is all our “progress” amounts to — represents but one of the consequences attending the general decrease in vitality: it requires a hundred times more trouble and caution to make so conditional and late an existence prevail. Hence each helps the other; hence everyone is to a certain extent sick, and everyone is a nurse for the sick. And that is called “virtue.” Among men who still knew life differently — fuller, more squandering, more overflowing — it would have been called by another name: “cowardice” perhaps, “wretchedness,” “old ladies’ morality.” …

Strong ages, noble cultures, all consider pity, “neighbor-love,” and the lack of self and self-assurance as something contemptible. Ages must be measured by their positive strength — and then that lavishly squandering and fatal age of the Renaissance appears as the last great age; and we moderns, with our anxious self-solicitude and neighbor-love, with our virtues of work, modesty, legality, and scientism — accumulating, economic, machinelike — appear as a weak age. Our virtues are conditional on, are provoked by, our weaknesses. “Equality” as a certain factual increase in similarity, which merely finds expression in the theory of “equal rights,” is an essential feature of decline. The cleavage between man and man, status and status, the plurality of types, the will to be oneself, to stand out — what I call the pathos of distance, that is characteristic of every strong age. The strength to withstand tension, the width of the tensions between extremes, becomes ever smaller today; finally, the extremes themselves become blurred to the point of similarity. …

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Source: Dissident Millennial

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