Human All-Too-Human, Part 1

Page 55 of 70


Culture and Caste.—A higher culture can only originate where there are two distinct castes of society: that of the working class, and that of the leisured class who are capable of true leisure; or, more strongly expressed, the caste of compulsory labour and the caste of free labour. The point of view of the division of happiness is not essential when it is a question of the production of a higher culture; in any case, however, the leisured caste is more susceptible to suffering and suffer more, their pleasure in existence is less and their task is greater. Now supposing there should be quite an interchange between the two castes, so that on the one hand the duller and less intelligent families and individuals are lowered from the higher caste into the lower, and, on the other hand, the freer men of the lower caste obtain access to the higher, a condition of things would be attained beyond which one can only perceive the open sea of vague wishes. Thus speaks to us the vanishing voice of the olden time; but where are there still ears to hear it?


Of Good Blood.—That which men and women of good blood possess much more than[Pg 320] others, and which gives them an undoubted right to be more highly appreciated, are two arts which are always increased by inheritance: the art of being able to command, and the art of proud obedience. Now wherever commanding is the business of the day (as in the great world of commerce and industry), there results something similar to these families of good blood, only the noble bearing in obedience is lacking which is an inheritance from feudal conditions and hardly grows any longer in the climate of our culture.


Subordination.—The subordination which is so highly valued in military and official ranks will soon become as incredible to us as the secret tactics of the Jesuits have already become; and when this subordination is no longer possible a multitude of astonishing results will no longer be attained, and the world will be all the poorer. It must disappear, for its foundation is disappearing, the belief in unconditional authority, in ultimate truth; even in military ranks physical compulsion is not sufficient to produce it, but only the inherited adoration of the princely as of something superhuman. In freer circumstances people subordinate themselves only on conditions, in compliance with a mutual contract, consequently with all the provisos of self-interest.


The National Army.—The greatest disadvantage of the national army, now so much[Pg 321] glorified, lies in the squandering of men of the highest civilisation; it is only by the favourableness of all circumstances that there are such men at all; how carefully and anxiously should we deal with them, since long periods are required to create the chance conditions for the production of such delicately organised brains! But as the Greeks wallowed in the blood of Greeks, so do Europeans now in the blood of Europeans: and indeed, taken relatively, it is mostly the highly cultivated who are sacrificed, those who promise an abundant and excellent posterity; for such stand in the front of the battle as commanders, and also expose themselves to most danger, by reason of their higher ambition. At present, when quite other and higher tasks are assigned than patria and honor, the rough Roman patriotism is either something dishonourable or a sign of being behind the times.


Hope As Presumption.—Our social order will slowly melt away, as all former orders have done, as soon as the suns of new opinions have shone upon mankind with a new glow. We can only wish this melting away in the hope thereof, and we are only reasonably entitled to hope when we believe that we and our equals have more strength in heart and head than the representatives of the existing state of things. As a rule, therefore, this hope will be a presumption, an over-estimation.

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War.—Against war it may be said that it makes the victor stupid and the vanquished revengeful. In favour of war it may be said that it barbarises in both its above-named results, and thereby makes more natural; it is the sleep or the winter period of culture; man emerges from it with greater strength for good and for evil.


In the Prince's Service.—To be able to act quite regardlessly it is best for a statesman to carry out his work not for himself but for a prince. The eye of the spectator is dazzled by the splendour of this general disinterestedness, so that it does not see the malignancy and severity which the work of a statesman brings with it.[1]


A Question of Power, Not of Right.—As regards Socialism, in the eyes of those who always consider higher utility, if it is really a rising against their oppressors of those who for centuries have been oppressed and downtrodden, there is no problem of right involved (notwithstanding the ridiculous, effeminate question," How far ought we to grant its demands?") but only a problem of power;[Pg 323] the same, therefore, as in the case of a natural force,—steam, for instance,—which is either forced by man into his service, as a machine-god, or which, in case of defects of the machine, that is to say, defects of human calculation in its construction, destroys it and man together. In order to solve this question of power we must know how strong Socialism is, in what modification it may yet be employed as a powerful lever in the present mechanism of political forces; under certain circumstances we should do all we can to strengthen it. With every great force—be it the most dangerous—men have to think how they can make of it an instrument for their purposes. Socialism acquires a right only if war seems to have taken place between the two powers, the representatives of the old and the new, when, however, a wise calculation of the greatest possible preservation and advantageousness to both sides gives rise to a desire for a treaty. Without treaty no right. So far, however, there is neither war nor treaty on the ground in question, therefore no rights, no "ought."


Utilising the Most Trivial Dishonesty.—The power of the press consists in the fact that every individual who ministers to it only feels himself bound and constrained to a very small extent. He usually expresses his opinion, but sometimes also does not express it in order to serve his party or the politics of his country, or[Pg 324] even himself. Such little faults of dishonesty, or perhaps only of a dishonest silence, are not hard to bear by the individual, but the consequences are extraordinary, because these little faults are committed by many at the same time. Each one says to himself: "For such small concessions I live better and can make my income; by the want of such little compliances I make myself impossible." Because it seems almost morally indifferent to write a line more (perhaps even without signature), or not to write it, a person who has money and influence can make any opinion a public one. He who knows that most people are weak in trifles, and wishes to attain his own ends thereby, is always dangerous.

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