“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), had a tremendous impact on German culture and society, both during and after his lifetime. This selection of quotes highlights some of the major themes in Nietzsche’s writings. Some of these themes would have significant political implications in twentieth century Germany and go on to provide the foundation for the Neofascist movements even into the present day.
NATURE CREATES INEQUALITY (CASTES), NOT MAN
“The order of castes, the highest, the dominating law, is merely the ratification of an order of nature, of a natural law of the first rank, over which no arbitrary fiat, no “modern idea,” can exert any influence. In every healthy society there are three physiological types, gravitating toward differentiation but mutually conditioning one another, and each of these has its own hygiene, its own sphere of work, its own special mastery and feeling of perfection. It is not Manu but nature that sets off in one class those who are chiefly intellectual, in another those who are marked by muscular strength and temperament, and in a third those who are distinguished in neither one way or the other, but show only mediocrity — the last-named represents the great majority, and the first two the select. The superior caste — I call it the fewest — has, as the most perfect, the privileges of the few: it stands for happiness, for beauty, for everything good upon earth. Only the most intellectual of men have any right to beauty, to the beautiful; only in them can goodness escape being weakness.”
In all this, I repeat, there is nothing arbitrary, nothing “made up”; whatever is to the contrary is made up — by it nature is brought to shame. . . The order of castes, the order of rank, simply formulates the supreme law of life itself; the separation of the three types is necessary to the maintenance of society, and to the evolution of higher types, and the highest types — the inequality of rights is essential to the existence of any rights at all. A right is a privilege. Everyone enjoys the privileges that accord with his state of existence.
“Wrong never lies in unequal rights; it lies in the assertion of ‘equal’ rights.”
Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist, Paragraph 57
THE “SUPER MAN” (DER ÜBERMENSCH)
When Zarathustra arrived at the nearest town which adjoineth the forest, he found many people assembled in the market-place; for it had been announced that a rope-dancer would give a performance. And Zarathustra spake thus unto the people:
I teach you of the Superman. Man is something that is to be surpassed. What have ye done to surpass man?
All beings hitherto have created something beyond themselves: and ye want to be the ebb of that great tide, and would rather go back to the beast than surpass man?
What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock, a thing of shame. And just the same shall man be to the Superman: a laughing-stock, a thing of shame.
Ye have made your way from the worm to man, and much within you is still worm. Once were ye apes, and even yet man is more of an ape than any of the apes.
Even the wisest among you is only a disharmony and hybrid of plant and phantom. But do I bid you become phantoms or plants?
Lo, I teach you of the Superman!
The Superman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: The Superman shall be the meaning of the earth!
Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Prologues 2-3
HISTORY AND THE “GREAT MAN”
History belongs, above all, to the active and powerful man, the man who fights one great battle, who needs the exemplary men, teachers, and comforters and cannot find them among his contemporary companions. … In order not to despair and feel disgust in the midst of weak and hopeless idlers … the active man looks behind him and interrupts the path to his goal to take a momentary deep breath. His purpose is some happiness or other, perhaps not his own, often that of a people or of humanity collectively. He runs back away from resignation and uses history as a way of fighting resignation. For the most part, no reward beckons him on, other than fame, that is, becoming a candidate for an honoured place in the temple of history, where he himself can be, in his turn, a teacher, consoler, and advisor for those who come later.
For his orders state: whatever once was able to expand the idea of “Human being” and to define it more beautifully must constantly be present in order that it always keeps its potential. The greatest moments in the struggle of single individuals make up a chain, in which a range of mountains of humanity are joined over thousands of years.
Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life,” Section II
“History is endured only by strong personalities — the weak ones are extinguished by it.”
Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, Thoughts Out of Season, Part II, Section 5
THE WOMAN DERIVES STRENGTH FROM A PRETENCE OF WEAKNESS:
All women are subtle in exaggerating their weaknesses; they are inventive when it comes to weaknesses in order to appear as utterly fragile ornaments who are hurt even by a speck of dust. Their existence is supposed to make men feel clumsy, and guilty on that score. Thus they defend themselves against the strong and “the law of the jungle.”
THE ONLY MEANS FOR A WOMAN TO DOMINATE IS AS A MOTHER:
Mothers find in their children satisfaction for their desire to dominate, a possession, an occupation, something that is wholly intelligible to them and can be chattered with: the sum of all this is what mother love is; it is to be compared with an artist’s love for his work. Pregnancy has made women kinder, more patient, more timid, more pleased to submit; and just so does spiritual pregnancy produce the character of the contemplative type, which is closely related to the feminine character: it consists of male mothers.