What Nietzsche Taught

Page 54 of 74

One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly. Death should be chosen freely,—death at the right time, faced clearly and joyfully and embraced while one is surrounded by one's children and other witnesses. It should be affected in such a way that a proper farewell is still possible, that he who is about to take leave of us is still himself, and really capable not only of valuing what he has achieved and willed in life, but also of summing-up the value of life itself. Everything precisely the opposite of the ghastly comedy which Christianity has made of the hour of death. We should never forgive Christianity for having so abused the weakness of the dying man as to do violence to his conscience, or for having used his manner of dying as a means of valuing both man and his past!—In spite of all cowardly prejudices, it is our duty, in this respect, above all to reinstate the proper—that is to say, the physiological, aspect of so-called natural death, which after all is perfectly "unnatural" and nothing else than suicide. One never[Pg 245] perishes through anybody's fault but one's own. The only thing is that the death which takes place in the most contemptible circumstances, the death that is not free, the death which occurs at the wrong time, is the death of a coward. Out of the very love one bears to life, one should wish death to be different from this—that is to say, free, deliberate, and neither a matter of chance nor of surprise. Finally let me whisper a word of advice to our friends the pessimists and all other decadents. We have not the power to prevent ourselves from being born: but this error—for sometimes it is an error—can be rectified if we choose. The man who does away with himself performs the most estimable of deeds: he almost deserves to live for having done so. 88-89

The decline of the instincts of hostility and of those instincts that arouse suspicion,—for this if anything is what constitutes our progress—is only one of the results manifested by the general decline in vitality: it requires a hundred times more trouble and caution to live such a dependent and senile existence. In such circumstances everybody gives everybody else a helping hand, and, to a certain extent, everybody is either an invalid or an invalid's attendant. This is then called "virtue": among those men who knew a different life—that is to say, a fuller, more prodigal, more superabundant sort of life, it might have been called by another name,—possibly "cowardice," or "vileness," or "old woman's morality." 91-92

Ages should be measured according to their positive forces;—valued by this standard that prodigal and fateful age of the Renaissance, appears as the last great age, while we moderns with our anxious care of ourselves and love of our neighbours, with all our unassuming virtues[Pg 246] of industry, equity, and scientific method—with our lust of collection, of economy and of mechanism—represent a weak age. 93

Liberalism, or, in plain English, the transformation of mankind into cattle. 94

Freedom is the will to be responsible for ourselves. It is to preserve the distance which separates us from other men. To grow more indifferent to hardship, to severity, to privation, and even to life itself. To be ready to sacrifice men for one's cause, one's self included. Freedom denotes that the virile instincts which rejoice in war and in victory, prevail over other instincts; for instance, over the instincts of "happiness." The man who has won his freedom, and how much more so, therefore, the spirit that has won his freedom, tramples ruthlessly upon that contemptible kind of comfort which tea-grocers, Christians, cows, women, Englishmen and other democrats worship in their dreams. The free man is a warrior. 94-95

By showing ever more and more favour to love-marriages, the very foundation of matrimony, that which alone makes it an institution, has been undermined. No institution ever has been nor ever will be built upon an idiosyncrasy; as I say, marriage cannot be based upon "love." 97-98

The mere fact that there is such a thing as the question of the working-man is due to stupidity, or at bottom to degenerate instincts which are the cause of all the stupidity of modern times. Concerning certain things no questions ought to be put: the first imperative principle of instinct. For the life of me I cannot see what people want to do with the working-man of Europe; now that they have made a question of him. He is far too[Pg 247] comfortable to cease from questioning, ever more and more, and with ever less modesty. After all, he has the majority on his side. There is now not the slightest hope that an unassuming and contented sort of man, after the style of the Chinaman, will come into being in this quarter: and this would have been the reasonable course, it was even a dire necessity. What has been done? Everything has been done with the view of nipping the very pre-requisite of this accomplishment in the bud,—with the most frivolous thoughtlessness those self-same instincts by means of which a working-class becomes possible, and tolerable even to its members themselves, have been destroyed root and branch. The working-man has been declared fit for military service; he has been granted the right of combination, and of franchise: can it be wondered at that he already regards his condition as one of distress (expressed morally, as an injustice)? But, again I ask, what do people want? If they desire a certain end, then they should desire the means thereto. If they will have slaves, then it is madness to educate them to be masters. 98-99

Great men, like great ages, are explosive material, in which a stupendous amount of power is accumulated; the first conditions of their existence are always historical and physiological; they are the outcome of the fact that for long ages energy has been collected, hoarded up, saved up and preserved for their use, and that no explosion has taken place. When the tension in the bulk has become sufficiently excessive, the most fortuitous stimulus suffices in order to call "genius," "great deeds," and momentous fate into the world. 101-102

The criminal type is the type of the strong man and unfavourable conditions, a strong man made sick. He[Pg 248] lacks the wild and savage state, a form of nature and existence which is freer and more dangerous, in which everything that constitutes the shield and the sword in the instinct of the strong man, takes a place by right. Society puts a ban upon his virtues; the most spirited instincts inherent in him immediately become involved with the depressing passions, with suspicion, fear and dishonour. But this is almost the recipe for physiological degeneration. When a man has to do that which he is best suited to do, which he is most fond of doing, not only clandestinely, but also with long suspense, caution and ruse, he becomes anmic; and inasmuch as he is always having to pay for his instincts in the form of danger, persecution and fatalities, even his feelings begin to turn against these instincts—he begins to regard them as fatal. It is society, our tame, mediocre, castrated society, in which an untutored son of nature who comes to us from his mountains or from his adventures at sea, must necessarily degenerate into a criminal. Or almost necessarily: for there are cases in which such a man shows himself to be stronger than society: the Corsican Napoleon is the most celebrated case of this. 103-104

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