The Twilight of the Idols - The Antichrist

Page 40 of 51


After all, the question is, to what end are falsehoods perpetrated? The fact that, in Christianity, "holy" ends are entirely absent, constitutes my objection to the means it employs. Its ends are only bad ends: the poisoning, the calumniation and the denial of life, the contempt of the body, the degradation and self-pollution of man by virtue of the concept sin,—consequently its means are bad as well.—My feelings are quite the reverse when I read the law-book of Manu, an incomparably superior and more intellectual work, which it would be a sin against the spirit even to mention in the same breath with the Bible. You will guess immediately why: it has a genuine philosophy behind it, in it, not merely an evil-smelling Jewish distillation of Rabbinism and[Pg 215] superstition,—it gives something to chew even to the most fastidious psychologist. And, not to forget the most important point of all, it is fundamentally different from every kind of Bible: by means of it the noble classes, the philosophers and the warriors guard and guide the masses; it is replete with noble values, it is filled with a feeling of perfection, with a saying of yea to life, and a triumphant sense of well-being in regard to itself and to life,—the sun shines upon the whole book.—All those things which Christianity smothers with its bottomless vulgarity: procreation, woman, marriage, are here treated with earnestness, with revere nee, with love and confidence. How can one possibly place in the hands of children and women, a book that contains those vile words: "to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband ... it is better to marry than to burn."[11] And is it decent to be a Christian so long as the very origin of man is Christianised,—that is to say, befouled, by the idea of the immaculata conceptio? ... I know of no book in which so many delicate and kindly things are said to woman, as in the Law-Rook of Manu; these old grey-beards and saints have a manner of being gallant to women which, perhaps, cannot be surpassed. "The mouth of a woman," says Manu on one occasion, "the breast of a maiden, the prayer of a child, and the smoke of the sacrifice, are always pure." Elsewhere he says: "there is nothing purer than the light of the sun, the shadow cast by a cow, air, water, fire and the breath of a maiden." And finally—perhaps this is also a holy lie:—"all the[Pg 216] openings of the body above the navel are pure, all those below the navel are impure. Only in a maiden is the whole body pure."


The unholiness of Christian means is caught in flagranti, if only the end aspired to by Christianity be compared with that of the Law-Book of Manu; if only these two utterly opposed aims be put under a strong light The critic of Christianity simply cannot avoid making Christianity contemptible.—A Law-Book like that of Manu comes into being like every good law-book: it epitomises the experience, the precautionary measures, and the experimental morality of long ages, it settles things definitely, it no longer creates. The prerequisite for a codification of this kind, is the recognition of the fact that the means which procure authority for a truth to which it has cost both time and great pains to attain, are fundamentally different from those with which that same truth would be proved. A law-book never relates the utility, the reasons, the preliminary casuistry, of a law: for it would be precisely in this way that it would forfeit its imperative tone, the "thou shalt," the first condition of its being obeyed. The problem lies exactly in this.—At a certain stage in the development of a people, the most far-seeing class within it (that is to say, the class that sees farthest backwards and forwards), declares the experience of how its fellow-creatures ought to live—can live—to be finally settled. Its object is, to reap as rich and as complete a harvest as possible, in return for the ages of experiment and terrible experience it has traversed. Consequently, that which[Pg 217] has to be avoided, above all, is any further experimentation, the continuation of the state when values are still fluid, the testing, choosing, and criticising of values in infinitum. Against all this a double wall is built up: in the first place, Revelation, which is the assumption that the rationale of every law is not human in its origin, that it was not sought and found after ages of error, but that it is divine in its origin, completely and utterly without a history, gift, a miracle, a mere communication.... And secondly, tradition, which is the assumption that the law has obtained since the most primeval times, that it is impious and a crime against one's ancestors to attempt to doubt it. The authority of law is established on the principles: God gave it, the ancestors lived it.—The superior reason of such a procedure lies in the intention to draw consciousness off step by step from that mode of life which has been recognised as correct (i.e., proved after enormous and carefully examined experience), so that perfect automatism of the instincts may be attained,—this being the only possible basis of all mastery of every kind of perfection in the Art of Life. To draw up a law-book like Manu's, is tantamount to granting a people mastership for the future, perfection for the future,—the right to aspire to the highest Art of Life. To that end it must be made unconscious; this is the object of every holy lie.—The order of castes, the highest, the dominating law, is only the sanction of a natural order, of a natural legislation of the first rank, over which no arbitrary innovation, no "modern idea" has any power. Every healthy society falls into three distinct types, which reciprocally[Pg 218] condition one another and which gravitate differently in the physiological sense; and each of these has its own hygiene, its own sphere of work, its own special feeling of perfection, and its own mastership. It is Nature, not Manu, that separates from the rest, those individuals preponderating in intellectual power, those excelling in muscular strength and temperament, and the third class which is distinguished neither in one way nor the other, the mediocre,—the latter as the greatest number, the former as the lite. The superior caste—I call them the fewest,—has, as the perfect caste, the privileges of the fewest: it devolves upon them to represent happiness, beauty and goodness on earth. Only the most intellectual men have the right to beauty, to the beautiful: only in them is goodness not weakness. Pulchrum est paucorum hominum: goodness is a privilege. On the other hand there is nothing which they should be more strictly forbidden than repulsive manners or a pessimistic look, a look that makes everything seem ugly,—or even indignation at the general aspect of things. Indignation is the privilege of the Chandala, and so is pessimism. "The world is perfect"—that is what the instinct of the most intellectual says, the yea-saying instinct; "imperfection, every kind of inferiority to us, distance, the pathos of distance, even the Chandala belongs to this perfection." The most intellectual men, as the strongest find their happiness where others meet with their ruin: in the labyrinth, in hardness towards themselves and others, in endeavour; their delight is self-mastery: with them asceticism becomes a second nature, a need, an[Pg 219] instinct They regard a difficult task as their privilege; to play with burdens which crush their fellows is to them a recreation.... Knowledge, a form of asceticism.—They are the most honourable kind of men: but that does not prevent them from being the most cheerful and most gracious. They rule, not because they will, but because they are; they are not at liberty to take a second place.—The second in rank are the guardians of the law, the custodians of order and of security, the noble warriors, the king, above all, as the highest formula of the warrior, the judge, and keeper of the law. The second in rank are the executive of the most intellectual, the nearest to them in duty, relieving them of all that is coarse in the work of ruling,—their retinue, their right hand, their best disciples. In all this, I repeat, there is nothing arbitrary, nothing "artificial," that which is otherwise is artificial,—by that which is otherwise, nature is put to shame.... The order of castes, and the order of rank merely formulates the supreme law of life itself; the differentiation of the three types is necessary for the maintenance of society, and for enabling higher and highest types to be reared,—the inequality of rights is the only condition of there being rights at all.—A right is a privilege. And in his way, each has his privilege. Let us not underestimate the privileges of the mediocre. Life always gets harder towards the summit,—the cold increases, responsibility increases. A high civilisation is a pyramid: it can stand only upon a broad base, its first prerequisite is a strongly and soundly consolidated mediocrity. Handicraft, commerce, agriculture, science, the greater part of[Pg 220] art,—in a word, the whole range of professional and business callings, is compatible only with mediocre ability and ambition; such pursuits would be out of place among exceptions, the instinct pertaining thereto would oppose not only aristocracy but anarchy as well. The fact that one is publicly useful, a wheel, a function, presupposes a certain natural destiny: it is not society, but the only kind of happiness of which the great majority are capable, that makes them intelligent machines. For the mediocre it is a joy to be mediocre; in them mastery in one thing, a speciality, is a natural instinct. It would be absolutely unworthy of a profound thinker to see any objection in mediocrity per se. For in itself it is the first essential condition under which exceptions are possible; a high culture is determined by it. When the exceptional man treats the mediocre with more tender care than he does himself or his equals, this is not mere courtesy of heart on his part—but simply his duty. ... Whom do I hate most among the rabble of the present day? The socialistic rabble, the Chandala apostles, who undermine the working man's instinct, his happiness and his feeling of contentedness with his insignificant existence,—who make him envious, and who teach him revenge. ... The wrong never lies in unequal rights; it lies in the claim to equal rights. What is bad? But I have already replied to this: Everything that proceeds from weakness, envy and revenge.—The anarchist and the Christian are offspring of the same womb....

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