Of all the public critics of the Germans in modern times, not even excepting H. G. Wells, Napoleon III, and the ravished burghers of Louvain, there has been none who belabored the Tedesco skull with harder blows, or got fiercer joy out of the delivery of them, than Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, heretic, rhapsodist, and prophet of the superman.
The business, with Nietzsche, took on the virulence and dignity of a grande passion. It was at once his vocation, his vice, and his substitute and apology for a religion. In the first book of his philosophical canon, written amid the Hochs and band-brayings of the year following Wörth and Sedan, he made his formal entry into the arena with a sort of blanket challenge to the whole of German culture, denouncing it out of hand as a pseudo-scientific sentimentalism, a Philistine yielding to the slippered and brummagem, a wholesale begging of questions. And in his last book of all, dashed off at feverish speed as the darkness closed in upon him, he returned once more to the attack, and in full fuming and fury.
No epithet was too outrageous, no charge was too far-fetched, no manipulation or interpretation of evidence was too daring, to enter into his ferocious indictment. He accused the Germans of stupidity, superstitiousness, and silliness; of a chronic weakness for dodging issues, a fatuous 'barnyard 'and 'green-grazing' contentment; of yielding supinely to the commands and exactions of a clumsy and unintelligent government; of degrading education to the low level of mere cramming and examination-passing: of a congenital inability to understand and absorb the culture of other peoples and particularly the culture of the French; of a boorish bumptiousness and an ignorant, ostrich-like complacency; of a systematic hostility to men of genius, whether in art, science, or philosophy (so that Schopenhauer, dead in 1860, remained 'the last German who was a European event'); of a slavish devotion to 'the two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity'; of a profound beeriness, aspiritual dyspepsia, a puerile mysticism, an old-womanish pettiness, an ineradicable liking for 'the obscure, evolving, crepuscular, damp, and shrouded.'
The German soul, he argued, was full of 'caves, hiding-places, and dungeons.' German taste was the negation, the antithesis, the torture and death of taste. German music was at once intoxicating and stupefying, 'a first-rate nerve-destroyer, doubly dangerous to a people given to drinking.' German wit had no existence. German cookery was 'a return to nature, that is, to cannibalism.' Germany itself was 'the flatland of Europe.'
And having made all these charges Nietzsche by no means tried to evade their implications, however embarrassing. Did his denunciation of German music collide with the massive fact of Wagner? Then he was far from dismayed. Wagner, on the one hand, was a mountebank, a sentimentalist in disguise, a secret Christian; and on the other hand, he was not a German at all, but a Jew! (His true name was Geyer, that is, vulture. It was but a step from Geyer to Adler,—that is, eagle, —and where is there a more thoroughly Jewish patronymic? I do not burlesque: somewhere in Nietzsche you will find the actual passage.) And Bismarck? Wasn't he, at least, a German? By no means! He was an East German, which is to say, a Slav. (And so was Luther!)
As for Nietzsche himself, the one firm faith of his life was his belief in his Polish origin. He cultivated a disorderly, truculent, and what he conceived to be Polish façade, wearing an enormous and bristling mustache. He wrote a book, which was privately printed, to prove that the true form of his name was Nietzschy, and that it was Polish and noble. It delighted him when the people at some obscure watering-place, deceived by his looks, nicknamed him 'The Polack.' The one unforgivable insult was to call him a German.
It goes without saying that all this heaping of scorn upon everything German won few readers for Nietzsche among the yeomen of the Germany that he attacked, and even fewer admirers. His charges were too strident, too extravagant, too offensive, to win any serious attention. The Germans of the seventies, in point of fact, were quite as close to his caricature as the English of the fifties had been to the caricature of Thackeray, but, still dizzy with success, they were anything but ready to hear or acknowledge the truth. And so the earlier of his books, say down to 1876 or thereabout, were sent into that Coventry which is as crushing to books as to men.
The stray reviews that survive were all printed in papers of limited circulation, and their authors, so far as I can make out, were all college professors of no importance. These gentlemen treated Nietzsche with that smothering courtesy which is proper between one professor and another. (He himself, remember, still held the chair of classical philology at Basel.) That is to say, they laboriously rectified his references and quotations, they sniffed at his heterodox notions as to the origin and inner content of Greek civilization, and they passed over, as too journalistic and undignified for formal controversion, his applications of those notions to the patriotism, the religion, and the ethical theory of the new Empire.
One or two of them chided him for his terrific assault on David Strauss, the fashionable German theologian of the day, but even here there seems to have been no suspicion that he had done any actual damage. The thing was simply a matter of taste—it was not nice for a conceited young professor, with the ink scarcely dry upon his degree, to make faces at so eminent a thinker as Strauss. As for the Germans in general, they knew no more about Nietzsche and his challenges, in those days of thirty-five years ago, than they knew about sanitary plumbing or the theory of least squares. His most vociferous shouts and accusations were as inaudible whispers in that din of mutual back-slapping, that homeric rattling of seidel-lids, that deafening chorus of 'Deutschland, Deutschland über alles!' The young Empire was beginning to feel its oats. What was one fly?
Even in 1878, when the first part of Human, All-too-Human flung out its bold questioning, not only of German culture, but also of most of the fundamental assumptions of Christian civilization, the response was confined to a relatively small circle, with the author's personal friends at its centre. Wagner, to whom the book was sent (crossing Parsifal in the mails!), looked through it, found it unpleasant and incomprehensible (the real Wagner-Nietzsche war was to come later on), and quietly washed his hands of Nietzsche. Frau Cosima and Papa Liszt wrote him polite, patronizing letters. The orthodox philosophers, putting on their black caps, formally read him out of their society. A few radical critics, while denouncing the contents of the book and protesting against its chaotic form, gave praise to its frenchified and gorgeous style. A few readers sprang up with commendations here and there, and some of them were destined to become disciples in the years to come. But the sensation that the book made was, after all, very short-lived, and the great body of Germans remained comfortably unaware of it. When the second volume appeared, in 1879, it fell flat. The third, published in 1880, followed it into the shadows. The publisher found himself with an unsold stock on his hands; Nietzsche himself, it is probable, had to pay the printer's bill. It was not until 1886, when the book was reprinted as a whole, that its ideas began to fall into the stream of German thinking, and its phrases to impress themselves upon the champions of the new national ideal.
Even so, the genuine turn of the tide toward Nietzsche was to be delayed for six years more. It came at last in 1892, with the publication of the four parts of Thus Spake Zarathustra. Here, after six trials and six failures, he struck twelve with a resounding thwack. Here was success indubitable: a book almost perfectly adapted to arrest, arouse, stimulate, antagonize, inflame, and conquer. Here, at one stroke, was a profound and revolutionary treatise upon human conduct, and a glowing and magnificent work of art. The thing that Nietzsche accomplished in it was something that had been scarcely accomplished by anyone else since the day of the Hebrew prophets: he had put a whole system of morals into dithyrambs, and the dithyrambs were sonorous, beautiful, eloquent, thrilling.
It was as if a new Luther had begun to speak with the tongue of a new Goethe; as if a new David had been sent into Germany to kindle her against the false gods of the past. And beside this intrinsic power of appeal, this peculiar fitness for a dual assault upon emotions and reason, the book had two further advantages, the first being that it offered a less direct and contemptuous affront to German susceptibilities than any of its predecessors, and the second being that it fell upon Germany at the very moment when the new ruling caste, still a bit insecure, still more than a little irresolute, stood in sorest need of heartening. Bismarck was an old, old man by now, and had been lately forced from the helm by the headstrong young Kaiser. The echoes of his Kulturkampf were still rumbling along the sky-line; the heresies of Karl Marx were spreading like wildfire among the mob; the demands from below were growing more and more extravagant and more and more pressing.
What was needed was a sharp counterblast to all this gabble and babble, a coherent and convincing defense of the besieged elders of the state, a theory that would account in terms of right and justice for the embattled facts a new gospel to take the place of the old gospel of brotherhood which the Socialists were turning so plausibly to their uses, an evangel of the counter-reformation.
This is what Nietzsche offered in Thus Spake Zarathustra, and, as I have said, the medicine was fortunately without much bitterness, the sins and deficiencies of the Germans were temporarily overlooked, there was nothing to explain away. No wonder the book went through the country like wildfire! No wonder its impassioned justification of the Herrenmoral was hailed by all the exponents of the new order as the voice of the true German spirit, a sufficient and overwhelming answer to the petty ideals of the rising proletariat, a perfect statement of the theory and practice of sound progress!
What is to be remembered here is the enormous change that had come over the German scene since the seventies, and in particular, the change that had occurred in the personnel of the ruling caste. The old Junkertum, though the Socialists still roared over its crimes, was now little more than an evil memory; Bismarck, its prophet and idol, had long since yielded to the inexorable forces of the future; the aristocracy which now ruled the land was anything but an aristocracy of oafish squireens and strutting sword-clankers. The new Germany, its bonds now knitting solidly, had begun to grow rich, not only in mere money and goods, but also and more especially in those things of the spirit which make for genuine national greatness. It was, in truth, at the beginning of an era of unprecedented expansion and productiveness. German science, descending from the clouds (or, ascending from the 'caves, hiding-places and dungeons'), was becoming enormously practical and fruitful; the whole world was beginning to acknowledge its leadership: it was seizing, taking over, pushing forward the conquests of nature begun in other lands,—for example, by Darwin, Pasteur, Mendeléeff, Lister, by Dutch and Swedish chemists, English physicists, and American inventors.
The day was not far past when German scholars had been forced to go to Leyden, Paris, Cambridge, Padua, even Vienna—when the German universities had been strongholds of obscurantism, dogmatic theology, and sterile pedantry. But now the tide was suddenly setting in from the other direction. Scholars from all over the world were coming to Berlin, Heidelberg, Leipzig, Halle, Munich, Bonn, and Göttingen. Even in far-away America the whole system of higher education was being remodeled upon German plans. Harvard was borrowing copiously from Berlin; in the Johns Hopkins Medical School a new Heidelberg was arising.
In every other field of civilized activity the Germans were going ahead just as rapidly. The inventions and discoveries of their scientists were being applied with an ingenuity and a dispatch that no other nation could match; they were swiftly getting a virtual monopoly of all those forms of industry which depended upon scientific exactness,—for example, the manufacture of drugs, dye-stuffs, and optical goods. And at the same time they were making equal, if not actually superior, progress in the grosser departments of trade. Their two great steamship corporations, the one founded back in 1847 and the other ten years later, were taking on new life and acquiring huge fleets of freight and passenger ships—fleets soon to be much larger, in fact, than any that even England could show. Their tramp steamers, more numerous every year, were trading to all the ports of the world. German drummers were everywhere, eager to make terms, speaking all languages. The first German colonies had been acquired in the middle eighties; the setting up of new ones now went on apace; advances were made into Africa and Oceania; a landing on the mainland of Asia was to follow in 1897. And the German navy, so long a mere paper power, was soon to be converted into a thing of authentic steel.
So in the arts. Wagner was dead, but German music still lived in Johannes Brahms, now the acknowledged tone-master of the world, perhaps the true successor of Beethoven and Bach. Nor was he a solitary figure. A youngster named Richard Strauss, the son of a Munich horn-player, was fast coming to fame; Mahler, Humperdink, and other lesser men were carrying on the glorious German tradition; German conductors and teachers were in high demand; German opera, after years of struggle, was at last breaking into New York, London, even Paris. And in literature Germany was entering upon the most productive period since the golden age of Goethe and Schiller. The German drama, before any other, began to show the influence of the revolutionary Ibsen, himself a resident of Germany, and more German in blood than Norwegian. Sudermann and Hauptmann, the twin giants, were at the threshold of their parallel careers; Lilienkron, Hartleben, and Bierbaum were about to put new life into the German lyric; a new school of German storytellers was arising. And Munich, to make an end, was beginning to offer rivalry to Paris in painting, and bringing in students from afar. On all sides there was this vast enrichment of the national consciousness, this brilliant shining forth of the national spirit, this feeling of new and superabundant efficiency, this increase of pride, achievement, and assurance.
The thing to be noted here is that the progress I have been describing was initiated and carried on, not by the old aristocracy of the barrack and the court, but by a new aristocracy of the laboratory, the study, and the shop. The Junkertum, though it was still to do good service as a hobgoblin, had long since ceased to dominate the state, and its ideals had gone the way of its power. Bismarck was the last of its great gladiators—and its first deserter. Far back in the seventies, perhaps even in the sixties, he had seen the signs of its impending collapse, and thereafter he had been gradually metamorphosed into an exponent of the new order. Did he wage a war upon the Catholic Church? Then it was because he saw all organized and autonomous religion, with its tenacity to established ideas and its hostility to reforms from without, as a conspiracy against that free experimentation which alone makes for human progress. Did he do valiant battle with the Socialists, the Liberals, the whole tribe of political phrasemongers and tub-thumpers? Then it was because he knew how puerile and how futile were the cure-alls preached by these quacks—how much all political advancement was a matter of careful trial and stage-management, and how little it was a matter of principles and shibboleths. And did he, in the end, definitely turn his back upon the axioms of his youth, and take his stand for the utmost dissemination of opportunity, the true democratization of talent? Then it was because he had seen feudalism gasp out its last breath when federalism was born at Versailles, and was convinced that it was dead to rise no more.
But this new democracy that thus arose in Germany was not, of course, a democracy in the American sense, Or anything colorably resembling it. It was founded upon no romantic theory that all men were natural equals; it was free from the taint of mobocracy; it was empty of soothing and windy phrases. On the contrary, it was a delimited, aristocratic democracy in the Athenian sense—a democracy of intelligence, of strength, of superior fitness—a democracy at the top. Its prizes went, not to those men who had most skill at inflaming and deluding the rabble, but to those who could contribute most to the prosperity and security of the commonwealth.
Politicians, it is true, sprang up in its shadow, as they must inevitably spring up when any approach is made toward universal manhood suffrage; but the part that they played in the conduct of affairs was curiously feeble and inconsequential. Even the great Socialist leaders, Liebknecht and Bebel, never attained to any real power in the government. If they got some of the things that they asked for, it was because they asked for things it was advisable to grant, and not because they were able to enforce their demands.
In the practical business of operating the state, in its units and as a whole, the final determination of all matters was plainly vested, not in politicians or in majorities, but in experts, in men above all politics, in the superbly efficient ruling caste. The professional mayor, aloof from party passions, unreachable by intrigues, remains today a characteristic German figure: the supreme triumph of intelligence over mere voting power. And one recalls, too, such typical representatives of the new order as Rudolf Virchow, for years a hard-working Berlin city councillor, and Wilhelm Koch, the greatest bacteriologist in the world and Germany's general superintendent of public health, her pre-Gorgasean Gorgas. Koch rid Germany of typhoid fever by penning up the population of whole villages and condemning whole watersheds. It was ruthless, it was unpopular, it broke down and made a mock of a host of 'inalienable' rights—but it worked.
Here, then, we see clearly the two ideas at the bottom of the scheme of things that the new Germany adopted. On the one hand, there was the utmost hospitality to intelligence, no matter how humble its origin, so long as it took an efficient, a practicable, a workable direction. And on the other hand there was the utmost disdain for all those grandiloquent words which conceal, excuse, or attempt to make glorious the lack of it. From the old Junkertum there was taken over the principle of order, of discipline, of submission to constituted authority. And from the democracy that kicked up its futile turmoils in states beyond the border there was borrowed the new concept of free opportunity, of hospitality to ideas, of eager seeking.
To the mixture there was added something of the blood-and-iron element of Bismarck, and something of that proud harshness which has been the hallmark of the German throughout the ages.
The new Germany was even more contemptuous of weakness, within or without, than the old. What had been the haughtiness of a single class became the haughtiness of a whole people. The days of German sentimentality, of the kaffeeklatsch view of life, of mysticism and simple piety, of Marlitt and Heimburg, of Hegel and Fichte, of Morgen Rot and The Sorrows of Werther were definitely put behind. A line was drawn beneath the romantic movement. The key changed to C major. Germany began to grow cocky, skeptical, self-sufficient, brusque, impatient of opposition. It held up its head among the nations. It lost its religion, dropping one member bodily from the Trinity and providing a substitute—in a helmet!—for the vacancy. It offered opinions unsolicited. It stuck its thumb into pies; laid the same member beside its nose; wriggled its fingers. It began, in the full view of passers-by, to sharpen its sword.
But uncertainty still clung about this new spirit. It was yet vague, unformulated in words, not quite comprehended, even by the Germans themselves. What it needed, of course, was a philosophy to back it up, as the vast unrest of the American colonies needed the Declaration of Independence, with its sharp, staccato asseverations, its brave statement of axioms. That philosophy, though few Germans knew it, was already in being. It had been gradually taking form and substance as the new national spirit had developed, and side by side with it. It had been first heard of in The Birth of Tragedy, twenty years before. It had first shown clear outlines in the onslaught upon David Strauss. It had grown clearer still in Human, All-too-Human; yet more so in The Dawn of Day and The Joyful Science; yet more so in Beyond Good and Evil and The Genealogy of Morals. And now at last, its time being come, it suddenly flashed forth with blinding brilliance in Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche's unquestioned masterpiece and perhaps the greatest work in German since Faust.
Here, indeed, was the thing that the Germans had been looking for. Here was a magnificent statement, lucid, plausible, overwhelming, of the ideas that had been groping for utterance within them. Here was the sufficient excuse and justification for their racial aspiration, the Magna Carta of their new intellectual freedom, the gospel of their new creed, of progress. It had all the essential qualities of a great race-document. It was dramatic, eloquent, persuasive, vigorous, romantic—a mixture of challenge and testament, of code and saga. It put into straightforward propositions,—so impassioned that they seemed almost self-evident,—the principles that the Germans had been applying, dubiously, experimentally, to their new problems. It accounted for and gave assent to their doubts of the old platitudes. It dowered them, at the stroke, with a new feeling of intellectual dignity and of intellectual security.
As I have said, there was but little writing against the Germans in the book. For once Nietzsche forgot his old rage against his own people, his profound antagonism to German culture. For once the good European yielded to the good German—that good German who, for all his carping, had served his country faithfully in war, and brought away his life-long wounds. Perhaps it was because he had begun to feel, dimly but none the less surely, that the culture he had reviled and roared against in his earlier books (and was to take a farewell stab at in Ecce Homo) had actually begun to yield to progress, that the new Germany had already traveled very far from the Germany of Tiecks and Hoffman, of Mendelssohn and Weber, even of The Ring and Parsifal. It was still a bit heavy-witted, perhaps, and more than a bit boorish, but it had long since lost its liking for 'the obscure, evolving, crepuscular, damp, and shrouded'; it no longer dwelt in 'caves, hiding-places, and dungeons'; it had put behind it all mysticism, 'spiritual dyspepsia,' empty pedantry, and 'green-grazing' contentment. So far had it gone, indeed, that it was fully prepared to make some show of assent to most of Nietzsche's thunderous charges.
The way once prepared by Thus Spake Zarathustra, the rest of the books slipped down easily, charges and all. Nietzsche himself was beyond honor and flattery by now; his mind a muddle, he drowsed away the endless days at quiet Weimar, nursed by his devoted sister. But around that pathetic shell of a man a definite and vigorous cult arose. Young Germany adopted him, ratified him, hurrahed for him. His phrases passed into current cant; he was quoted, discussed, hailed as a deliverer; musicians were inspired to deafening tone-poems by his dithyrambs; all the scribblers discovered that he had invented a new German language, chromatic, supple, electrical; he became a great national figure, a prophet, something of a hero—in his own words, 'a European event.'
Do not mistake me here. I am not saying that the Germans adopted Nietzsche in any general and unanimous sense, as the Arabs, for example, adopted Mohammed, or as the Americans adopted the Declaration of Independence. To the common people he was inevitably a dose of very bitter caviare: in so far as they were aware of him at all, they could scarcely understand him, and in so far as they could understand him, they were mocked and outraged by him. Nor was he more palatable to the elements which represented, in the new empire, the ideas carried over from the last and previous ages—for example, the adherents of the church and the survivors and mourners of the old aristocracy. For that church and that aristocracy he had only the fiercest of scorn. Against the one he was yet to launch The Antichrist, without question the most devastating attack ever made upon Christian morals in ancient or modern times. And at the aristocracy he had already flung the insult of ranking it second in his new order of castes, putting it with 'those whose eminence is chiefly muscular,' and dismissing it as fit only to 'execute the mandates of the first caste, relieving the latter of all that is coarse and menial in the work of ruling.' Nor were these the only groups which found little but effrontery and atheism in his new scheme of things. He was iconoclast even before he was prophet. His whole philosophy was a herculean treading upon toes.
But that he got a response from what he himself regarded as the true aristocracy of his country, and what many of his countrymen, willingly or unwillingly, had begun to regard as such—this, I take it, scarcely needs argument. Upon the young intellectuals, the rulers of the morrow, his influence was immediate and profound. Not only did they hail him as a sound and convincing critic of that orthodoxy which they instinctively shrank from and longed to dispose of, but they also found a surpassing fairness in the theory of the universe that he proposed to set up in place of it.
That theory of his was full of the confidence and the lordliness of youth; it was the youngest philosophy that the world had seen since the days of the Greeks; it made no concession whatever to the intellectual toryism of old age, the timidity and inertia of so-called experience. And if it was thus young, and perhaps even a bit juvenile, then let us not forget that Germany was young too. Here, indeed, was the youngest of all the great nations, the baby among the powers. The winds of great adventure were still sharp and spicy to its nostrils; it felt the swelling of its muscles, the itch of its palm on the sword-hilt; it gazed out upon the world proudly, steadily, disdainfully. And here, of its own blood, was a philosopher who gave validity, nay, the highest validity, to its impulses, its appetites, its ambitions. Here was a sage who taught that the supreme type of man was the Ja-sager, the yes-sayer. Here was one who drove a lance through the Beatitudes, and hung a new motto upon the point: 'Be hard!'
One thing to be remembered clearly about Nietzsche—and I insist upon it because it is almost always forgotten—is that he by no means proposed a unanimous, or even a general desertion of Christian morality. On the contrary, he specifically reserved that deliverance for his highest caste, whose happiness was 'in those things which, to lesser men, would spell ruin—in the labyrinth, in severity toward themselves and others, in effort.' The true enlightenment was not for the castes lower down; it was even to be guarded jealously, lest they steal it and pollute it. For those castes the old platitudes were good enough. Did they cling sentimentally to Christianity, unable to rid themselves of their yearning for a rock and a refuge? Then let them have it! It was 'a good anodyne.' Their yearning for it was a proof of their need for it. To attempt to take it away from them was an offense against their sense of well-being, and against human progress as well.
'Whom do I hate most,' asked Nietzsche in The Antichrist, 'among all the rabble of to-day?' And his answer was: 'The Socialist who undermines the workingman's instincts, who destroys his satisfaction with his insignificant existence, who makes him envious and teaches him revenge.' Christianity and brotherhood were for workingmen, soldiers, servants, and yokels, for 'shopkeepers, cows, women, and Englishmen,' for the submerged chandala, for the whole race of subordinates, dependents, followers. But not for the higher man, not for the superman of to-morrow!
Thus the philosophy of Nietzsche gave coherence and significance to the new German spirit, and the new Germany gave a royal setting and splendor to Nietzsche. He got a good deal more, I often think, than he ever gave back. His ultimate roots, true enough, were in Greek soil,—it was the Athenian drama that started him upon his lifelong inquiry into moral ideas,— but he grew more and more German as he grew older, more and more the spokesman of his race, more and more the creature of his environment. His one great service was that he gathered together the dim, groping concepts behind the national aspiration and put them into superlative German,—the greatest German, indeed, of all time,—so that they suddenly rose up, in brilliant clarity, before the thousands who had been blundering toward them blindly. In brief, he was like every other philosopher in the catalogue, ancient or modern: not so much a leader of his age as its interpreter, not so much a prophet as a procurator.
Go through Thus Spake Zarathustra from end to end, and you will find that nine tenths of its ideas are essentially German ideas, that they coincide almost exactly with what we have come to know of the new German spirit, just as the ideas of Aristotle were all essentially Greek, and those of Locke essentially English. Even its lingering sneers at the Germans strike at weaknesses which the more thoughtful Germans were themselves beginning to admit, combat, and remedy. It is a riotous affirmation of race-efficiency, a magnificent defiance of destiny, a sublime celebration of ambition.
Not even Wilhelm himself ever voiced a philosophy of vaster assurance. Not even the hot-heads of the mess-table, drinking uproariously to der Tag, ever flung a bolder challenge to the gods. 'Thus,' shouts Zarathustra, 'would I have man and woman: the one fit for warfare, the other fit for giving birth; and both fit for dancing with head and legs'—that is, both lavish of energy careless of waste, pagan, gargantuan, inordinate. And then, 'War and courage have done more great things than charity. Not your pity, but your bravery lifts up those about you. Let the little girlies tell you that "good" means "sweet" and "touching." I tell you that "good" means "brave." … The slave rebels against hardships and calls his rebellion superiority. Let your superiority be an acceptance of hardships. Let your commanding be an obeying. . . . Propagate yourself upward … I do not spare you … Die at the right time … Be hard!'
I come to the war: the supreme manifestation of the new Germany, at last the great test of the gospel of strength, of great daring, of efficiency. But here, alas, the business of the expositor must suddenly cease. The streams of parallel ideas coalesce. Germany becomes Nietzsche; Nietzsche becomes Germany. Turn away from all the fruitless debates over the responsibility of this man or that, the witless straw-splitting over non-essentials. Go back to Zarathustra: 'I do not advise you to compromise and make peace, but to conquer. Let your labor be fighting, and your peace victory … What is good? All that increases the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man. What is bad? All that proceeds from weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power increases, that resistance is being overcome … Not contentment, but more power! Not peace at any price, but war! Not virtue, but efficiency! … The weak and the botched must perish: that is the first principle of our humanity. And they should be helped to perish! … I am writing for the lords of the earth. You say that a good cause hallows even war? … I tell you that a good war hallows every cause!'
Barbarous? Ruthless? Unchristian? No doubt. But so is life itself. So is all progress worthy the name. Here at least is honesty to match the barbarity, and, what is more, courage, the willingness to face great hazards, the acceptance of defeat as well as victory. 'Ye shall have foes to be hated, but not foes to be despised. Ye must be proud of your foes … The new Empire has more need of foes than of friends. Nothing has grown more alien to us than that "peace of the soul" which is the aim of Christianity … And should a great injustice befall you, then do quickly five small ones. A small revenge is better than none at all.'
Do we see again those grave, blond warriors of whom Tacitus tells us—who were good to their women, and would not lie, and were terrible in battle? Is the Teuton afoot for new conquests, a new tearing down, a new building up, a new transvaluation of all values? And if he is, will he prevail? Or will he be squeezed to death between the two mill-stones of Christianity and Mongol savagery? Let us not assume his downfall too lightly: it will take staggering blows to break him. And let us not be alarmed by his possible triumph. What did Rome ever produce to match the Fifth Symphony?
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