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Dismissing observation one as the mere expression of a regrettable fact which scarcely requires substantiation, and which is responsible for more than three-quarters of the anomalies that characterise modern Western civilisation; and passing over the suggestion that the excessive praise of compassion and selflessness denotes an ascendency of slave values (for we have dealt with this question in Chapter III.), let us turn to the more abstract proposition enunciated in observation two and try to grasp Nietzsche's treatment of it.

In the first place, let us understand that there are two kinds of pity and selflessness, just as there are two kinds of generosity. There is the pity, the selflessness and the generosity which is preached and praised as a virtue by him who urgently requires them because he is ill-constituted, needy, and hungry; and there is the pity, the selflessness and the generosity which suggests itself to the man overflowing with health, trust in the future, and confidence in his own powers. To such a man, pity, selflessness, and generosity are a means of discharging a certain plenitude of power, and in his case giving and bestowing are natural functions. In the first instance, the three virtues are preached from a utilitarian standpoint which tends to increase an undesirable type; in the second, they are the sign of the existence of a desirable type.

Let us hear Nietzsche—

"A man who says: 'I like that, I take it for my own, and mean to guard it and protect it from everyone'; and the man who can conduct a case, carry out a resolution, remain true to an opinion, keep hold of a woman, punish and overthrow insolence; a man who has his indignation and his sword, and to whom the weak, the suffering, the oppressed, and even the animals willingly submit and naturally belong; in short, a man who is a master by nature—when such a man has sympathy, well! that sympathy has value! But of what account is the sympathy of those who suffer! or of those even who preach sympathy!"

Wherever we find anything akin to "pity," even in nature: the suckling of the young, the maintenance of dependants (the lion's attitude towards the jackal), the protection of the helpless young (as in many fish and mammals), it is always the superabundance of the giver and his Will to Power which creates the pitiful act.

But the pity which most of us understand as a virtue in Europe to-day, is merely a sort of sickly sensitiveness and irritability towards pain, an effeminate absence of control in the presence of suffering, which has nothing whatever to do with our powers of alleviating the misery we contemplate, and which is only compatible either with excessive sentimentality or with weak and overstrained nerves. In that case all it does is to add to the misery of this world, and to elevate to a virtue that which is perhaps one of the saddest signs of the times. It is then indiscriminate, rash, and short-sighted, and gives rise to more evil than it tries to dispel.

"Ah, where in the world have there been greater follies than with the pitiful? And what in the world hath caused more suffering than the follies of the pitiful?

"Woe unto all loving ones who have not an elevation which is above their pity!"[10]

The legislator or the leader (and it is to him, remember, that Nietzsche appeals), is often obliged to leave dozens to die by the wayside, and has to do so with a clean conscience. If the march he is organising requires certain sacrifices, he must be ready to make them; the slavish pity, then, which would sacrifice the greater to the less, must have been overcome by him in his own heart., and he must have learnt that hardness which is wider in its sympathies, more presbyopic in its love, and less immediate in its effect. But he alone can feel like this who has something to give to those he leads, i.e. his protection and guidance, his promise of a better land.

"Myself I would sacrifice to my design, and my neighbour as well—such is the language of creators.

"All creators, however, are hard."[11]

Now turning to the question of egoism cru et vert, which, according to some, is the very basis and core of Nietzscheism, what are the points which strike us most in Nietzsche's standpoint? To begin with, in this question, as in all others, his honesty is paramount, and we become conscious of it the moment we read his first line on the subject. Where Nietzsche discusses matters of which others are wont to speak with heaving breasts, florid language, and tearful voices, he takes particular pains to be clear, concise, calculating and cold—hence perhaps the hatred he has provoked in those who depend for their effect upon the impression of benevolence which their watery eyes, their cracked, good-natured voices, and their high-falutin' words make upon a multitude.

Nietzsche puts his linger on the very centre of the question of egoism, he simply says: "Not every one has the right to be an egoist. Whereas in some egoism would be a virtue, in others it may be an insufferable vice which should be stamped out at all costs."

In whom then is egoism a vice?

Obviously in him who is physiologically botched, below mediocrity in spirit and body, mean, despicable, and even ugly.

Egoism in such a man means concentrating certain interests, and not always the least valuable, upon the promotion and enhancement of an undesirable element in society. The egoism of him who is below mediocrity is a form of tyranny which leads to nothing, save, perhaps, a Heaven where the haute vole will consist of the whole scum and dross of humanity. Such egoism leads humanity downwards: it practically says: "I, the bungled and the botched, I the poor in spirit and body, I the mean, despicable and ugly, want my kind to be all-important, paramount and on the top—I the least desirable wish to prevail." But this egoism would mean humanity's ruin, it would mean humanity's suicide and annihilation: it would certainly mean humanity's degradation. When such egoism says: "I will have all," the only decent retort is deafness. When such egoism says: "I have as much right to live and flourish as the well-constituted, the superior in spirit and body, the beautiful and the happy," wisdom replies with a shrill of its shoulders. And when such egoism preaches altruism—then! Then woe to all those who are tempted to practise one virtue more! Woe to humanity! Woe to the whole world!

There is, on the other hand, a form of egoism, which is both virtuous and noble. It is the egoism of him whose multiplication would make the world better, more desirable, happier, healthier, superior in spirit and body. Egoism in such a case is a moral duty; wherever, in such a case, giving, bestowing—altruism in fact—is not compatible with survival, then egoism becomes the highest principle of all, and it is in such circumstances that altruism may become a vice.

Now let us hear Nietzsche's own words:—

"Selfishness," he says, "has as much value as the physiological value of him who possesses it: it may be very valuable or it may be vile and contemptible. Each individual may be looked at with respect to whether he represents an ascending or a descending line of life. When that is determined, we have a canon for determining the value of his selfishness. If he represent the ascent in the line of life, his value is in fact very great—and on account of the collective life which in him makes a further step, the concern about his maintenance, about providing his optimum of conditions, may even be extreme... If he represent descending development, decay, chronic degeneration, or sickening, he has little worth, and the greatest fairness would have him take away as little as possible from the well-constituted. He is then no more than their parasite."[12]

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