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Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)
Twilight of the Idols; "improvers" of mankind
A sublime one saw I today, a solemn one, a penitent of the spirit: Oh, how my soul laughed at his ugliness! (thus spake zarathustra)
Friedrich Nietzsche
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- Thus spake Zarathustra
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My demand upon the philosopher is known, that he take his stand beyond good and evil and leave the illusion of moral judgment beneath himself. This demand follows from an insight which I was the first to formulate: that there are altogether no moral facts. Moral judgments agree with religious ones in believing in realities which are no realities. Morality is merely an interpretation of certain phenomena - more precisely, a misinterpretation. Moral judgments, like religious ones, belong to a stage of ignorance at which the very concept of the real and the distinction between what is real and imaginary, are still lacking; thus "truth," at this stage, designates all sorts of things which we today call "imaginings." Moral judgments are therefore never to be taken literally so understood, they always contain mere absurdity. Semiotically, however, they remain invaluable: they reveal, at least for those who know, the most valuable realities of cultures and inwardnesses which did not know enough to "understand" themselves. Morality is mere sign language, mere symptomatology: one must know what it is all about to be able to profit from it.


A first example, quite provisional. At all times they have wanted to "improve" men: this above all was called morality. Under the same word, however, the most divergent tendencies are concealed. Both the taming of the beast, man, and the breeding of a particular kind of man have been called "improvement." Such zoological terms are required to express the realities - realities, to be sure, of which the typical "improver," the priest, neither knows anything, nor wants to know any thing. To call the taming of an animal its "improvement" sounds almost like a joke to our ears. Whoever knows what goes on in menageries doubts that the beasts are "improved" there. They are weakened, they are made less harmful, and through the depressive effect of fear, through pain, through wounds, and through hunger they become sickly beasts. It is no different with the tamed man whom the priest has "improved." In the early Middle Ages, when the church was indeed, above all, a menagerie, the most beautiful specimens of the "blond beast" were hunted down everywhere; and the noble Teutons, for example, were "improved." But how did such an "improved" Teuton who had been seduced into a monastery look afterward? Like a caricature of man - like a miscarriage: he had become a "sinner," he was stuck in a cage, imprisoned among all sorts of terrible concepts. And there he lay, sick, miserable, malevolent against himself: full of hatred against the springs of life, full of suspicion against all that was still strong and happy. In short, a "Christian." Physiologically speaking: in the struggle with beasts to make them sick may be the only means for making them weak. This the church understood: it ruined man - weakened him - but it claimed to have "improved" him.


Let us consider the other case of so-called morality, the case of breeding a particular race and kind. The most magnificent example of this is furnished by Indian morality, sanctioned as religion in the form of "the Law of Manu." Here the task set is to breed no less than four races at once: one priestly, one warlike, one for trade and agriculture, and finally a race of servants, the Sudras. Obviously, we are here no longer among animal tamers: a kind of man that is a hundred times milder and more reasonable is the condition for even conceiving such a plan of breeding. One heaves a sigh of relief at leaving the Christian atmosphere of disease and dungeons for this healthier, higher, and wider world. How wretched is the New Testament compared to Manu, how foul it smells! Yet this organization too found it necessary to be terrible - this time not in the struggle with beasts, but with their counter-concept, the unbred man, the mish-mash man, the chandala. And again it had no other means for keeping him from being dangerous, for making him weak, than to make him sick - it was the fight with the "great number." Perhaps there is nothing that contradicts our feeling more than these protective measures of Indian morality. The third edict, for example (Avadana-Shastra I), "on impure vegetables," ordains that the only nourishment permitted to the chandala shall be garlic and onions, seeing that the holy scripture prohibits giving them grain or fruit with grains, or water or fire. The same edict orders that the water they need may not be taken from rivers or wells, nor from ponds, but only from the approaches to swamps and from holes made by the footsteps of animals. They are also prohibited from washing their laundry and from washing themselves, since the water they are conceded as an act of grace may be used only to quench thirst. Finally, a prohibition that Sudra women may not assist chandala women in childbirth, and a prohibition that the latter may not assist each other in this condition. The success of such sanitary police measures was inevitable: murderous epidemics, ghastly venereal diseases, and thereupon again "the law of the knife, ordaining circumcision for male children and the removal of the internal labia for female children. Manu himself says: "The chandalas are the fruit of adultery, incest, and crime (these, the necessary consequences of the concept of breeding). For clothing they shall have only rags from corpses; for dishes, broken pots; for adornment, old iron; for divine services, only evil spirits. They shall wander without rest from place to place. They are prohibited from writing from left to right, and from using the right hand in writing: the use of the right hand and of from-left-to-right is reserved for the virtuous, for the people of race."


These regulations are instructive enough: here we encounter for once Aryan humanity, quite pure, quite primordial - we learn that the concept of "pure blood is the opposite of a harmless concept. On the other hand it becomes clear in which people the hatred, the chandala hatred, against this "humaneness" has eternalized itself, where it has become religion, where it has be come genius. Seen in this perspective, the Gospels rep resent a document of prime importance; even more, the Book of Enoch. Christianity, sprung from Jewish roots and comprehensible only as a growth on this soil, represents the counter-movement to any morality of breeding, of race, of privilege: it is the anti-Aryan religion par excellence. Christianity - the revaluation of all Aryan values, the victory of chandala values, the gospel preached to the poor and base, the general revolt of all the downtrodden, the wretched, the failures, the less favored, against "race": the undying chandala hatred as the religion of love.


The morality of breeding and the morality of taming are, in the means they use, entirely worthy of each other: we may proclaim it as the supreme principle that, to make morality, one must have the unconditional will to its opposite. This is the great, the uncanny problem which I have been pursuing the longest: the psychology of the "improvers" of mankind. A small, and at bottom modest, fact - that of the so-called pia fraus - offered me the first approach to this problem: the pia fraus, the heirloom of all philosophers and priests who "improved" mankind. Neither Manu nor Plato nor Confucius nor the Jewish and Christian teachers have ever doubted their right to lie. They have not doubted that they had very different rights too. Expressed in a formula, one might say: all the means by which one has so far attempted to make mankind moral were through and through immoral.

Ce qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé. Nietzsche, Gay Science

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