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Chapter III
Nietzsche the Moralist

Conceiving all forms of morality to be but weapons in the struggle for power, Nietzsche concluded that every species of man must at some time or other have taken to moralising, and must have called that "good" which its instincts approved, and that "bad" which its enemies" instincts approved. In Beyond Good and Evil, 1 however, he tells us that after making a careful examination "of the finer and coarser moralities which have hitherto prevailed or still prevail on earth," he found certain traits recurring so regularly together, and so closely connected with one another, that, finally, two primary types of morality revealed themselves to him. That is to say, after passing the known moralities of the world in review, he was able to classify them broadly into two types.

        1 Aph. 260.

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        He observed that throughout human history there had been a continual and implacable war between two kinds of men; it must have begun in the remotest ages, and it continues to this day. It is the war between the powerful and the impotent, the strong and the weak, the givers and the takers, the healthy and the sick, the happy and the wretched. The powerful formed their concept of "good," and it was one which justified their strongest instincts. The impotent likewise acquired their view of the matter, which was often precisely the reverse of the former view.
        In this way Nietzsche arrived at the following broad generalisation: that all the moralities of the world could be placed under one of two heads, Master Morality or Slave Morality.
        In the first, the master morality, it is the oak which contends: I must reach the sun and spread broad brandies in so doing; this I call "good," and the herd that I shelter may also call it good. In the second, the slave morality, it is the shrub which says: I also want to reach the sun, these broad branches of the oak, however, keep the sun from me, therefore the oak's instincts are "bad."
        It is obvious that these two points of view exist and have existed everywhere on earth. Apart

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from national and racial distinctions, mankind does fall into the two broad classes of master and slave, or ruler and subject. We also know that each of these classes must have developed its moral code, and must have tried to protect its conduct and life therewith. But, what we did not know until Nietzsche pointed the fact out to us, was: which morality is the more desirable and the more full of promise for the future? Admitting that the master and the slave moralities are struggling for supremacy still, which of them ought we to promote with every means in our power? — which of them is going to make life more attractive, more justifiable, and more acceptable on earth?
        These are now questions of the utmost importance; because it is precisely now that pessimism, nihilism, and other desperate faiths are beginning to set their note of interrogation to human existence, and to shake our belief even in the desirability of our own survival.
        It is now time for us to discover whence arises this contempt and horror of life, and to lay the blame for it either at the door of the master or of the slave morality.
        In order that we may understand how to set forth upon this inquiry, let us first form a mental

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image of the two codes as they must have been evolved by their originators.
        Nietzsche reminds us before we start, however, 1 that in most communities the two moralities have become so confused and mingled, in order to establish that compromise which is so dear to the hearts of the peaceful, that it would be almost a hopeless task to seek any society on earth in which they are now to be seen juxtaposed in sharp contrast. Be this as it may, in order to recognise the blood of each when we come across it, we have only to think of what must have occurred when the ruling caste and the ruled class took to moralising.
        Taking the ruling caste first, it is clear that in their morality, all is good which proceeds from strength, power, health, well-constitutedness, happiness, and awfulness; for the motive force behind the people who evolved it was simply the will to discharge a plenitude, a superabundance, of spiritual and physical wealth. A consciousness of high tension, of a treasure that would fain give and bestow, — this is the mental attitude of the nobles. The antithesis "good" and "bad" to this first class means the same as "noble" and "despicable." "Bad" in the master morality must

        1 G. E., p. 227.

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be applied to the coward, to all acts that spring from weakness, to the man with "an eye to the main chance," who would forsake everything in order to live.
        The creator of the master morality was he who, out of the very fulness of his soul, transfigured all he saw and heard, and declared it better, greater, more beautiful than it appeared to the creator of the slave morality. Great artists, great legislators, and great warriors belong to the class that created master morality.
        Turning now to the second class, we must bear in mind that it is the product of a community in which the struggle for existence is the prime life-motor. There, inasmuch as oppression, suffering, weariness, and servitude are the general rule, all will be regarded as good that tends to alleviate pain. Pity, the obliging hand, the warm heart, patience, industry, and humility, — these are undoubtedly the virtues we shall here find elevated to the highest places; because they are useful virtues; they make life endurable; they are helpful in the struggle for existence. To this class, all that proceeds from strength, superabundance of spiritual or bodily power, or great health, is looked upon with loathing and mistrust, while that which is awful is the worst and greatest evil.

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He is good who is amenable, kind, unselfish, meek, and submissive; that is why, in all communities where slave morality is in the ascendant, a "good fellow" always suggests a man in possession of a fair modicum of foolishness and sentimentality.
        The creator of slave-morality was one who, out of the poverty of his soul, transfigured all he saw and heard, and declared it smaller, meaner, and less beautiful than it appeared to the creator of the master values. Great misanthropists, pessimists, demagogues, tasteless artists, nihilists, spiteful authors and dramatists, and resentful saints belong to the class that created slave-morality.
        The first order of values are active, creative, Dionysiac. The second are passive, defensive, venomous, subterranean; to them belong "Adaptation," "adjustment," and "utilitarian relationship to environment."
        Now, seeing that mankind is undoubtedly moulded by the nature of the values which prevail over it, it is manifestly of paramount importance to the philosopher to know which order of values conduces to rear the most desirable species of man, and then to advocate that order, with all the art and science at his disposal.
        Nietzsche saw two lines of life: an ascending

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and a descending line. At the end of the one he pictured an ideal type, robust in mind and body, rich enough in spirit and vigour to make giving and bestowing a necessary condition of its existence; at the end of the other line he already perceived degeneracy, poverty of blood and spirit, and a sufficiently low degree of vitality to make parasitism a biological need.
        He believed that the first, or noble morality, when it prevailed, made for an ascending line of life and therefore favoured the multiplication of a desirable type of man; and he was now equally convinced that whenever ignoble or slave morality was supreme, life not only tended to follow the descending line, but that the very men whose existence it favoured were the least likely to stem the declining tide. Hence it seemed to him that the most essential of all tasks was to ascertain what kind of morality now prevailed, in order that we might immediately transvalue our values, while there was still time, if we believed this change to be necessary.
        What then are our present values? Nietzsche replies most emphatically — they are Christian values.
        In the last chapter we saw that although Christian dogma was very rapidly becoming mere

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wreckage, its most earnest opposers and destroyers nevertheless clung with fanatical faith to Christian morality. Thus, in addition to the vast multitude of those professing the old religion, there was also a host of atheists, agnostics, rationalists, and materialists, who, as far as Nietzsche was concerned, could quite logically be classed with those who were avowedly Christian. And, as for the remainder — a few indifferent and perhaps nameless people, — what could they matter? Even they, perhaps, if hard pressed, would have betrayed a sneaking, cowardly trust in Christian ethics, if only out of a sense of security; and with these the total sum of the civilised world was fully made up.
        Perhaps to some this may appear a somewhat sweeping conclusion. To such as doubt its justice, the best advice that can be given is to urge them to consult the literature, ethical, philosophical, and otherwise, of those writers whom they would consider most opposed to Christianity before the publication of Nietzsche's works; and they will then realise that, with very few exceptions, mostly to be found among uninfluential and uncreative iconoclasts, the whole of the Western civilised world in Nietzsche's time was firmly Christian in morals, and most firmly so, perhaps,

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in those very quarters where the dogma of the religion of pity was most honestly disclaimed.
        It had therefore become in the highest degree necessary to put these values under the philosophical microscope, and to discover to which order they belonged. Was Christianity the purveyor of a noble or of a slave morality? The reply to this question would reveal the whole tendency of the modern world, and would also answer Nietzsche's searching inquiry: "Are we on the right track?"
        Pursuing Nietzsche's method as closely as we can, let us now turn to Christianity, as we find it to-day, and see whether it is possible to bring its values into line with one of the two broad classes spoken of in this chapter.
        In the first place, Nietzsche discovers that Christianity is not a world-approving faith. The very pivot upon which it revolves seems to be the slandering and depreciating of this world, together with the praise and exaltation of a hypothetical world to come. To his mind it seems to draw odious comparisons between the things of this earth and the blessings of heaven. Finally, it gushes in a very unsportsmanlike manner over an imaginary beyond, to the detriment and dis-

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advantage of a "here," of this earth, of this life, and posits another region — a nether region — for the accommodation of its enemies. 1
        What, now, is the mental attitude of these "backworldsmen," as Nietzsche calls them, who can see only the world's filth? Who is likely to need the thought of a beyond, where he will live in bliss while those he hates will writhe in hell? Such ideas occur only to certain minds. Do they occur to the minds of those who, by the very health, strength, and happiness that is in them, transfigure all the world — even the ugliness in it — and declare it to be beautiful? Do they occur to the powerful who can chastise their enemies while their blood is still up? Admitting that the world may be surveyed from a hundred different standpoints, is this particular standpoint which we now have under our notice, that of a contented, optimistic, sanguine type, or that of a discontented, pessimistic, anæmic one?
        "To the pure all things are pure! — I, however, say unto you: To the swine all things are swinish." 2
        Nietzsche's sensitive car caught curious notes in the daily dronings of those around him — notes

        1 John xii. 25; 1 John ii. 15, 16; James iv. 4.
        2 Z., p. 249.

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that made him suspicious of the whole melody of modern life, and still more suspicions of the chorus executing it.
        He heard to his astonishment: . . . "the wretched alone are the good; the poor, the impotent, the lowly alone are good; only the sufferers, the needy, the sick, the ugly are pious only they are godly; them alone blessedness awaits — but ye, the proud and potent, ye are for aye and evermore the wicked, the cruel, the lustful, the insatiable, the godless; ye will also be, to all eternity, the unblessed, the cursed, and the damned." 1
        He continued listening intently, and, with his ear attuned anew, these sentiments broke strangely upon his senses:—
        "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
        "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
        "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
        "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." 2
        There was no time for brooding over stray thoughts; there was still much to be seen and

        1 G. M., 1st Essay, Aph. 7.
        2 Matthew v.

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hoard. When you want to catch some one napping, you keep your eye eagerly upon him, and turn neither to the right nor to the left. Nietzsche, it must be remembered, was at this stage treading softly towards Europe whom he believed to be "napping."
        In his lonely hermit cell he was able to catch all the sounds that rose from the city beneath him, and he heard perhaps more than the inhabitants themselves.
        He could see them all fighting and quarrelling, and he was cheered, because he knew that where the great fight for power ceases, the standard of life falls. But some he saw were wounded, others were actually unfit for the battlefield, a large number looked tired and listless, and there were yet others — a goodly multitude — who were resentful at the sight of their superiors and who, like sulky children, dropped their arms in a pet and declared that they would not play any more. And what were all these feeble and less viable mortals doing? They were crying aloud, and making their deepest wishes known. They were elevating their desiderata to the highest places amongst earthly virtues — and driving back the others with words! Nietzsche thought of Reynard the Fox, who, at the very moment

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that he was about to be hanged, and with the rope already round his neck, succeeded by his dialectical skill in persuading the crowd to release him. For Nietzsche could hear the weary, the wounded, and the incapable of the fight, crying quite distinctly through their lips parched for rest: "Peace is good! Love is good! Love for one's neighbour is good! Ay, and even love for one's enemy is good!" 1
        And some cried: "It is God that avengeth me!" to those who oppressed them, and others said: "The Lord avenge me!" 2
        Whereupon Nietzsche thought of the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the God of revenge and thunderbolts; he recalled the sentiment: "Ye shall chase your enemies and they shall fall fall before you by the sword," and he wondered how this had come to mean "love your enemies," in the New Testament. Had another type of men perhaps made themselves God's mouthpiece?
        Yes, that must be so; for, in their holy book, he came across this passage, ascribed to one of their greatest saints:

        1 Matthew xxiii. 39; Mark xiii. 31; Luke x. 27; Matthew v. 44.
        2 Luke xviii. 7, 8; Romans xii. 19; Revelation vi. 10.

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        "Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
        "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
        ". . . . Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called:
        "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise: and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty:
        "And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are." 1
        Here, Nietzsche tells us, he began to hold his nose; but he still listened; for there was yet more to be heard. From the smiles that were breaking over the lips of those who read the above words, he gathered that they must have overcome their unhappiness. Yes, indeed, they had. But what did they call it? This was important — even the Christian view of unhappiness seemed significant to Nietzsche in this inquiry.
        Their unhappiness, their wretchedness, they

        1 1 Corinthians i. 20, 21, 26, 27, 28.

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called a trial, a gift, a distinction! Not really? Yes indeed! As Nietzsche points out: "They are wretched, no doubt, all these mumblers and underground forgers, though warmly seated together. But they tell us their wretchedness is a selection and distinction from God, that the dogs which are loved most are whipped, that their misery may perhaps also be a preparation, a trial, a schooling; perhaps even more — something which at some time to come will be refuted and paid back with immense interest in gold. No! in happiness. This they call "blessedness." 1
        At this point Nietzsche declares that he could stand it no longer. "Enough, enough! Bad air! Bad air!" he cried. "Methinks this workshop of virtue positively reeks."
        He had now realised in whose company he had been all this time.
        These people who halted at nothing in order to elevate their weaknesses to the highest place among the virtues, and to monopolise goodness on earth — who called that good which was tame and soft and harmless, because they themselves could only survive in litters of cotton wool; who coloured the earth with the darkness that was in

        1 G. M., 1st Essay, Aph. 14. See also Epistle to the Hebrews xii. 6, and Revelation iii. 19.

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their own bodies; — who did not scruple to dub all manly and vital virtues odiously sinful and wicked, and who preferred to set the life of the whole world at stake, rather than acknowledge that it was precisely their own second-rate, third-rate, or even fourth-rate, vitality which was the greatest sin of all; who in one and the same breath preached their utilitarian "universal love" to the powerful, and then sent them to eternal damnation in another world: Nietzsche asks, are these people the supporters of a noble or of a slave morality?
        The answer is obvious, and we need not labour the point. But it was so obvious to the lonely hermit, that the thought of it filled him with horror and dread, and he was moved to leave his cell and to descend into the plain, while there was yet time, with the object of urging us to transvalue our values.
        In Christian values, Nietzsche read nihilism, decadence, degeneration, and death. They were calculated to favour the multiplication of the least desirable on earth: and, as such, despite his antecedents, and with his one desire, "the elevation of the type man," always before him, he condemned Christian morality from top to bottom. This magnificent attempt on the part of the low, the base, and the worthless, to estab-

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lish themselves as the most powerful on earth, must be checked at all costs, and with terrible earnestness he exhorts us to alter our values.
        "O my brethren, with whom lieth the greatest danger to the whole human future? Is it not with the good and the just?
        "Break up, break up, I pray you, the good and the just!"
        This condemnation of Christian values, as slave values — which Nietzsche regarded as his greatest service to mankind — he says he would write on all walls. He tells us he came just in the nick of time; to-morrow might be too late.
        "It is time for man to fix his goal. It is time for man to plant the germ of his highest hope.
        "His soil is still rich enough for that purpose. But that soil will one day be too poor and exhausted, and no lofty tree will any longer be able to grow thereon." 1

        1 Z., p. 12.



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