Friedrich Nietzsche

[Two of Nietzsche’s works—The Will to Power and The Antichrist—are represented in the following readings. First published in 1901, one year after Nietzsche’s death, The Will to Power consists of the author’s notes written in the years 1883 to 1888. The following passages from this work show Nietzsche’s contempt for democracy and socialism and proclaim the will to power.]


20 (1886—1887)

The most fearful and fundamental desire in man, his drive for power—this drive is called “freedom”—must be held in check the longest. This is why ethics . . . has hitherto aimed at holding the desire for power in check: it disparages the tyrannical individual and with its glorification of social welfare and patriotism emphasizes the power-instinct of the herd.


728 (March—June 1888)

A society that definitely and instinctively gives up war and conquest is in decline: it is ripe for democracy and the rule of shopkeepers—In most cases, to be sure, assurances of peace are merely narcotics.

751 (March—June 1888)

‘The will to power” is so hated in democratic ages that their entire psychology seems directed toward belittling and defaming it. . .

752 (1884)

Democracy represents the disbelief in great human beings and an elite society: “Everyone is equal to everyone else.” “At bottom we are one and all self-seeking cattle and mob.”

753 (1885)

I am opposed to 1. socialism, because it dreams quite naively of “the good, true, and beautiful” and of “equal rights” (— anarchism also desires the same ideal, but in a more brutal fashion); 2. parliamentary government and the press, because these are the means by which the herd animal becomes master.

762 (1885)

European democracy represents a release of forces only to a very small degree. It is above all a release of laziness, of weariness, of weakness.

765 (Jan.—Fall 1888)

Another Christian concept, no less crazy, has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity: the concept of the “equality of souls before God.” This concept furnishes the prototype of all theories of equal rights:

mankind was first taught to stammer the proposition of equality in a religious context, and only later was it made into morality: no wonder that man ended by taking it seriously, taking it practically!—that is to say, politically, democratically, socialistically, in the spirit of the pessimism of indignation.

854 (1884)

In the age of suffrage universel, i.e., when everyone may sit in judgment on everyone and everything, I feel impelled to reestablish order of rank.

855 (Spring—Fall 1887)

What determines rank, sets off rank, is only quanta of power, and nothing else.

857 (Jan—Fall 1888)

I distinguish between a type of ascending life and another type of decay, disintegration, weakness. Is it credible that the question of the relative rank of these two types still needs to be posed?

858 (Nov. 1887—March 1888)

What determines your rank is the quantum of power you are: the rest is cowardice.

861 (1884)

A declaration of war on the masses by higher men is needed! Everywhere the mediocre are combining in order to make themselves master! Everything that makes soft and effeminate, that serves the ends of the “people” or the “feminine,” works in favor of suffrage universel, i.e., the dominion of inferior men. But we should take reprisal and bring this whole affair (which in Europe commenced with Christianity) to light and to the bar of judgment.

862 (1884)

A doctrine is needed powerful enough to work as a breeding agent: strengthening the strong, paralyzing and destructive for the world-weary.

The annihilation of the decaying races. Decay of Europe.—The annihilation of slavish evaluations.—Dominion over the earth as a means of producing a higher type—The annihilation of the tartuffery [hypocrisyl called “morality.” ... The annihilation of suffrage universel; i.e., the system through which the lowest natures prescribe themselves as laws for the higher—The annihilation of mediocrity and its acceptance. (The onesided, individuals—peoples; to strive for fullness of nature through the pairing of opposites: race mixture to this end).—The new courage—no a priori [innate and universal] truths (such truths were sought by those accustomed to faith!), but a free subordination to a ruling idea that has its time: e.g., time as a property of space, etc.

870 (1884)

The root of all evil: that the slavish morality of meekness, chastity, selflessness, absolute obedience, has triumphed—ruling natures were thus condemned (1) to hypocrisy, (2) to torments of conscience—creative natures felt like rebels against God, uncertain and inhibited by eternal values.

In summa: the best things have been slandered because the weak or the immoderate swine have cast a bad light on them—and the best men have remained hidden—and have often misunderstood themselves.

874 (1884)

The degeneration of the rulers and the ruling classes has been the cause of the greatest mischief in history! Without the Roman Caesars and Roman society, the insanity of Christianity would never have come to power.

When lesser men begin to doubt whether higher men exist, then the danger is great! And one ends by discovering that there is virtue also among the lowly and subjugated, the poor in spirit, and that before God men are equal—which has so far been the . . . (height) of nonsense on earth! For ultimately, the higher men measured themselves according to the standard of virtue of slaves—found they were “proud,” etc., found all their higher qualities reprehensible.

997 (1884)

I teach: that there are higher and lower men, and that a single individual can under certain circumstances justify the existence of whole millennia—that is, a full, rich, great, whole human being in relation to countless incomplete fragmentary men.

998 (1884)

The highest men live beyond the rulers, freed from all bonds; and in the rulers they have their instruments.

999 (1884)

Order of rank: He who determines values and directs the will of millennia by giving direction to the highest natures is the highest man.

1001 (1884)

Not “mankind” but overman is the goal!

1067 (1885)

This world is the will to power—and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power—and nothing besides!


[The following passages are from The Antichrist written in 1888.]



2. What is good?—All that heightens 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 a resistance is overcome.

Not contentment, but more power; not peace at all, but war; not virtue, but proficiency (virtue in the Renaissance style, virtù, virtue free of moralic acid).

The weak and ill-constituted shall perish: first principle of our philanthropy. And one shall help them to do so.

What is more harmful than any vice?—Active sympathy for the ill-constituted and weak—Christianity. . . .

3. The problem I raise here is not what ought to succeed mankind in the sequence of species (—the human being is an end—): but what type of human being one ought to breed, ought to will, as more valuable, more worthy of life, more certain of the future.

This more valuable type has existed often enough already: but as a lucky accident, as an exception, never as willed. He has rather been the most feared, he has hitherto been virtually the thing to be feared—and out of fear the reverse type has been willed, bred, achieved: the domestic animal, the herd animal, the sick animal man—the Christian.

5. One should not embellish or dress up Christianity: it has waged a war to the death against this higher type of man, it has excommunicated all the fundamental instincts of this type, it has distilled evil, the Evil One, out of these instincts—the strong human being as the type of reprehensibility, as the “outcast.” Christianity has taken the side of everything weak, base, ill-constituted, it has made an ideal out of opposition to the preservative instincts of strong life; it has depraved the reason even of the intellectually strongest natures by teaching men to feel the supreme values of intellectuality as sinful, as misleading, as temptations. The most deplorable example: the depraving of Pascal,[1] who believed his reason had been depraved by original sin while it had only been depraved by his Christianity!. . .

7. Christianity is called the religion of pity—Pity stands in antithesis to the tonic emotions which enhance the energy of the feeling of life: it has a depressive effect. One loses force when one pities.

15. In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point. Nothing but imaginary causes (“God,” “soul,” “ego, spirit,” “free will”—or “unfree will”): nothing but imaginary effects (“sin,” “redemption,” “grace,” “punishment,” “forgiveness of sins’).

18. The Christian conception of God—God as God of the sick, God as spider, God as spirit is one of the most corrupt conceptions of God arrived at on earth: perhaps it even represents the low-water mark in the descending development of the God type. God degenerated to the contradiction of life, instead of being its transfiguration and eternal Yes! In God a declaration of hostility towards life, nature, the will to life! God the formula for every calumny of “this world,” for every lie about “the next world”! In God, nothingness deified, the will to nothingness sanctified! . . .

21. In Christianity the instincts of the subjugated and oppressed come into the foreground: it is the lowest classes which seek their salvation in it. . . .

43. The poison of the doctrine “equal rights for all—this has been more thoroughly sowed by Christianity than by anything else; from the most secret recesses of base instincts, Christianity has waged a war to the death against every feeling of reverence and distance between man and man, against, that is, the precondition of every elevation, every increase in culture— it has forged out of the [resentment] of the masses its chief weapon against us, against everything noble, joyful, high-spirited on earth, against our happiness on earth Immortality” granted to every Peter and Paul has been the greatest and most malicious outrage on noble mankind ever committed—And let us not underestimate the fatality that has crept Out of Christianity even into politics! No one any longer possesses today the courage to claim special privileges or the right to rule, the courage to feel a sense of reverence towards himself and towards his equals—the courage for a pathos of distance. . . . Our politics is morbid from this lack of courage!—The aristocratic outlook has been undermined most deeply by the lie of equality of souls; and if the belief in the “prerogative of the majority” makes revolutions and will continue to make them—it is Christianity, let there be no doubt about it. Christian value judgement which translates every revolution into mere blood and crime Christianity is a revolt of everything that crawls along the ground directed against that which is elevated: the Gospel of the “lowly makes low. . . .

[1] Blaise Pascal (1623—1662) was a French mathematician, philosopher, and eloquent defender of the Christian faith.