Page 13 of 17

[10] Z., pp. 136, 137.

[11] G. E., p. 20.

[12] Second Essay, Aph. l2.

[13] The italics are mine.—A. M. L.

[14] Z., p. 351.

[15] Z., p. 6.

[16] G. E., p. 130.

[17] Z., p. 89.

Chapter V

Nietzsche the Sociologist

For Nietzsche, as we are beginning to see, a fitting title is hard to find. Unless we coin new names for things that have not yet been given names, Nietzsche remains without a title among his fellow thinkers. He has been called the "arch-anarchist," which he is not; he has been called the "preacher of brutality," which he is not; he has been called the "egoist," which he is not. But all these titles were conferred upon him by people whose interest it was to reduce him in the public's esteem. If he must be named, however, and we suppose he must, the best title would obviously be that which would distinguish him most exactly from his colleagues. Now, how does Nietzsche stand out from the ranks of almost all other philosophers? By the fact that he was throughout his life an "Advocate of Higher Man." Whereas other philosophers and scholars had always thought they had some divine message to impart in the cause of the "greatest number"; Nietzsche—the typical miner and underminer—believed that his mission was to stand for a neglected minority, for higher men, for the gold in the mass of quartz.

No title therefore could be more fair, and at the same time more essentially descriptive, than the "Advocate of Higher Man," and in giving this title to Nietzsche, we immediately outline him against that assembly of his colleagues who were "Advocates of the Greatest Number."

It is of the first importance to humanity that its higher individuals should be allowed to attain their full development, for only by means of its heroes can the human race be led forward step by step to higher and ever higher levels. In view of the fact that Nietzsche realised this, some of his principles, when given general application, may very naturally appear to be both iniquitous and subversive, and those who read him with the idea that he is preaching a gospel for all are perfectly justified if they turn away in horror from his works. The mistake they make, however, is to suppose that he, like most other philosophers with whom they are familiar, is an advocate of the greatest number.

Let us take a single instance. In The Honey Sacrifice[1] the phrase "Become what thou art," occurs. Now it is obvious that however legitimate this command may be when applied to the highest and best, it becomes dangerous and seditious when applied to each individual of the mass of mankind. And this explains the number of errors that are rife concerning Nietzsche's gospel. Whenever Nietzsche spoke esoterically, his enemies declared that he was pronouncing maxims for the greatest number; whenever he spoke for the greatest number, as he does again and again in his allusions to the mediocre, he was accused of speaking esoterically. How would any other philosophy have fared under such misrepresentation and calumny?

Nietzsche could not believe in equality; for within him justice said "men are not equal!" Those to whom it gives pleasure to think that men are equal, he conjures not to confound pleasure with truth, and, like Professor Huxley, he finds himself obliged to recognise "the natural inequality of men."

But, far from deploring this fact, he would fain have accentuated and intensified it. This inequality, to Nietzsche, is a condition to be exploited and to be made use of by the legislator. The higher men of a society in which gradations of rank are recognised as a natural and desirable condition constitute the class in which the hopes of a real elevation of humanity may be placed. The Divine Manu, Laotse, Confucius, Muhammad, Jesus Christ—all these men, who in their sublime arrogance actually converted man into a mirror in which they saw themselves and their doctrines reflected, and who in thus converting man into a mirror really made him feel happy in the function of reflecting alone:—these leaders are the types Nietzsche refers to when he speaks of higher men.

Ruling, like all other functions which require the great to justify them, has fallen into disrepute, thanks to the incompetent amateurs that have tried their hand at the game. As in the Fine Arts, so in leading and ruling; it is the dilettantes that have broken our faith in human performances. The really great ruler reaches his zenith in dominating an epoch, a party, a nation or the world, to the best advantage of each of these; but it does not follow that the motive power propelling him should necessarily be the conscious pursuit of the best advantage of those he rules,—this is merely a fortuitous circumstance curiously associated with greatness in ruling,—generally speaking, however, his only conscious motive is the gratification of his inordinate will to power.

The innocent fallacy of democracy lies in supposing that by a mere search, by a mere rummaging and fumbling among a motley populace, one man or several men can be found, who are able to take the place of the rare and ideal ruler. As if the mere fact of searching and rummaging were not in itself a confession of failure,—a confession that this man does not exist! For if he existed he would have asserted himself! he would have needed no democratic exploration party to unearth him.

"There is no sorer misfortune in all human destiny, than when the powerful of the earth are not at the same time the first men. Then everything becometh false and warped and monstrous."[2]

"For, my brethren, the best shall rule: the best will rule! And where the teaching is different, there—the best is lacking."[3]

Here we observe that Nietzsche advocated an aristocratic arrangement of society. A firm believer in tradition, law, and order, and, in spite of his opponents' accusations, an undaunted enemy of Anarchy and laisser-aller, he saw in Socialism and Democracy nothing more than two slave organisations for the raising of every individual to his highest power, individuality made as general as possible; or, in other words, Socialism and Democracy meant to Nietzsche the annihilation of all higher aims and hopes. It meant valuing all the weeds and noble plants alike, and with such a valuation, the noble plants, being in the minority, must necessarily suffer and ultimately die out. Where everybody is somebody, nobody is anybody. Socialism, i.e. organised Individualism, seemed to Nietzsche merely the reflection in politics of the Christian principle that all men are alike before God. Grant immortality to every Tom, Dick, and Harry, and, in the end, every Tom, Dick, or Harry will believe in equal rights before he can even hope to reach Heaven, but to deny the privileges of rare men implies the proscription from life of all high trees with broad brandies,—those broad brandies that protect the herd from the rain, but which also keep the sun from the envious and ambitious shrub,—and thus it would mean that the world would gradually assume the appearance of those vast Scotch moors of gorse and heather, where liberalism and mediocrity are rampant, but where all loftiness is dead.

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