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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Critical and Biographical Introduction by William Pepperell Montague (1873–1953)

By Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

Biographical Note

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE was born at Röchen in the Prussian province of Saxony on October 15th, 1844. He became insane in January, 1889, and from then to the day of his death, August 25th, 1900, he remained a hopeless mental invalid. His father and both of his grandfathers were clergymen.

Nietzsche received his early education in the schools of Naumburg. At fourteen he was given a scholarship in the famous Landesschule, Pforta, where he remained for six years. After studying philology and theology at the University of Bonn for six months, he went to Leipzig, where he studied philology for two years. He left the university for a brief period of voluntary military service which was terminated by a fall from his horse and a severe illness. In 1868 he was honored by an appointment to the Professorship of Classical Philology at the University of Bâle, and Leipzig, in recognition of this distinction, conferred upon him the doctor’s degree without further examination. At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war he obtained leave of absence to serve with the Prussian army as a hospital attendant. He contracted dysentery and his health became permanently undermined. In 1879 he was forced by his poor health to resign his professorship. The University gave him a pension which added to a small private income enabled him to live comfortably during the ten years preceding his final illness. Much of this last period of his active life was spent in Italy.

Despite Nietzsche’s high position in academic circles, his books were not favorably received and he was obliged to publish many of them at his own expense. It was not until 1888 that Taine in Paris and Brandes in Copenhagen proclaimed to the learned world their belief in the greatness of his philosophy.

There was in Nietzsche’s life much of loneliness and disappointment as well as ill-health. He was devoted to his sister Elizabeth, who nursed him during his last years and who has given us his biography, but her marriage displeased him and brought about an estrangement. His warm friendship with Wagner ended in a permanent quarrel.

His philosophy was for a long time received either with indifference, misunderstanding, or actual hostility. These causes combined with his invalidism to increase the harshness and bitterness of his attitude towards the accepted standards of society. It would, however, be a pious and foolish mistake to seek for the key of his teaching in the unhappy circumstances of his life and temperament or to view his doctrines as in any way a precursor of the insanity with which his life ended, for the philosophy of Nietzsche, like all philosophy that is truly great, possesses an intrinsic significance which far transcends the biographical and social conditions under which it originated.

Nietzsche’s principal works are as follows: ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ (1872); ‘Thoughts Out of Season’ (1873–6); ‘Human, All-too-Human’ (1878); ‘Dawn of Day’ (1881); ‘The Joyful Wisdom’ (1882); ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ (1883–4); ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ (1886); ‘The Genealogy of Morals’ (1887); ‘The Twilight of the Idols’ (1889); ‘The Will to Power’ (published posthumously in 1901).

There is an edition of Nietzsche’s complete works in English by Oscar Levy. The standard biography is by his sister Frau Elizabeth Forste Nietzsche. It has been translated into English and is entitled ‘The Lonely Nietzsche.’

An enormous number of books and articles have been written on Nietzsche and his philosophy. A brief but very illuminating exposition of his teaching is entitled ‘Nietzsche, his Life and Works, by Anthony M. Ludovici.

The Philosophy of Nietzsche

Nietzsche’s philosophy is, in the main, an elaborate, sustained, and passionate attack upon the two great ideals of the present day—the moral ideal of Christianity and the social ideal of democracy. This attempt to overthrow all accepted standards, or, in Nietzsche’s own phrase, to “transvaluate all values,” is, however, based more or less directly upon a general metaphysical theory of the nature of evolution and of the origin of human morality. Hence before treating of Nietzsche’s more specific criticism of modern ethical ideals, we must consider the broad foundation of his philosophical system.


Our philosopher agrees on the whole with his great predecessor Schopenhauer, in holding that the driving force of all nature is identical with what in our own life we call “will.” According to Schopenhauer, however, the world-will aimed at life and aimed also at contentment and peace. As life is essentially active and restless, it is incompatible with the ideal of peace, and therefore we must recognize the truth of “pessimism,” which is the belief that life is evil and that a denial of life and of the will to live is the only way to attain the good.

Nietzsche starting from the same premises as Schopenhauer arrives at an opposite conclusion. The world-will is not merely a will to live, it is a will to power; and it is in power that it finds its good, and not at all in peace and contentment. Thus the same spectacle that makes of Schopenhauer a pessimist makes Nietzsche an optimist. The spectacle of life as a perpetual war fills Schopenhauer with despair, because he loves peace. The same spectacle fills Nietzsche with courage and happiness, because he loves power rather than peace.

The Nietzschean theory of evolution as a progressive realization of the will to power, brings him into a certain conflict with the Darwinian conception of evolution as a struggle for existence. If life is a struggle for existence it will find its essence and goal in what Herbert Spencer described as the “adjustment of internal to external relations”; and the fitness, value, or success of a living organism will be measured by the extent to which it is adapted to its environment. But for Nietzsche the basic instinct of life is not self-preservation but self-aggrandizement, and the measure of value is not the extent to which life adapts itself to the environment, but the extent to which it conquers the environment and adapts it to its own needs. Had Nietzsche possessed a greater knowledge of natural science or had his main interest been directed to biological problems, he might have developed his theory that life is an aggressive rather than a defensive tendency into a vitalistic theory of evolution very similar to that set forth by the great French philosopher, Henri Bergson. As it was he used it only as a general, basis for his theory of the nature and origin of moral values.

The genealogy of morals is explained by Nietzsche in terms of the will to power somewhat as follows: Power being the primary end of every life, whatever serves as a means to that end will possess value. “Good” is a eulogistic name by which any class of individuals denominates the instrumentalities and rules of conduct which favor its own interests. If a class were to appeal to all individuals to follow those rules which it frankly declared to be in its own interest, no one outside the class would feel any impulse to accede to the appeal. It is then of the highest importance that the selfish motive of class-interest which underlies all moral codes should be disguised. And the usual way of accomplishing the disguise is to use words like “goodness,” “righteousness,” “justice,” which have a deceptive flavor of objective validity and universal obligation. In an analogous way and for analogous reasons it has proved expedient for any class seeking to achieve or to preserve power to use such words as “evil,” “criminal,” “unjust,” “immoral” to denominate actions or ideas which are opposed to its own interest. When once we recognize the truth of the foregoing account of the genealogy of morals, we are forced to adopt a standpoint that is “beyond good and evil;” for inasmuch as the interests of different groups conflict with one another, there can be no such thing as an objective and universal good obligatory upon everyone to pursue. One man’s meat is another man’s poison and what is “morally good” from the standpoint of one class may be “morally evil” from the standpoint of another. There is no morality; there are only moralities.

This doctrine of ethical relativism was by no means original with Nietzsche. We find it clearly recognized in the days of ancient Greece; Plato imputes it to his contemporary, the sophist, Thrasymachus, when he makes him declare that “justice is the interest of the stronger.” The long line of modern moralists, from Hobbes to the present day, who hold that every man does, must, and should aim only at his own greatest happiness, have naturally tended to view any system of morality as merely a means to this end, and as objectively binding only in so far as the state may in its own interest prescribe it for the citizens.

The same thought will be expressed differently by different groups: To the devout royalist, “The king can do no wrong”; the ardent patriot will say, “My country right or wrong”; the socialist will speak of “bourgeois morals and working-class morals.” These are all but different forms of the doctrine that “might makes right.”

Nietzsche, however, expressed the underlying thought of ethical relativism with more force and clearness than any of its other adherents. For in most of them there was a vague feeling that the interest of the individual could be made to coincide with the interest of society or that what was for the good of one’s own class or country would ultimately be for the good of all. Nietzsche alone proclaimed the conflict of interests which takes the form of a conflict of moralities to be irreconcilable. For to Nietzsche it was power rather than prosperity or contentment which was the aim of life; and power cannot be universalized. It can be attained by one class only at the expense of the defeat of another. Were there no conquered, there could be no conquerors; without slaves there would be no masters.

That there is a disconcerting amount of truth in this Nietzschean doctrine of ethical relativism cannot be denied. Of course, we all take our own morality with the greatest seriousness, and yet we frequently discover in our friends a foolish habit of investing with moral dignity a course of action which has nothing to commend it except that it works to their advantage. There is no conscious hypocrisy in this, but rather an unconscious aversion to seeing ourselves spiritually naked and a consequent universal tendency to clothe our subjective interests in the respectable garb of an “objective morality.” So much for the strength of ethical egoism and relativism; its weakness appears as soon as we raise the question from an outsider’s standpoint, as to the relative merits of the different moral codes and the different types of ego which are open to us to follow. Let us suppose that we have each of us decided that the highest moral good means my highest self-interest, what kind of self shall I become? Shall I make my ego the sort of ego which finds its attainment of power or life-fulfillment in narrow or physical happiness or in broad spiritual happiness? In domination over others or in co-operation with others? Admitting that the pig at the trough and the martyr at the stake are each actuated by self-interest, which of these self-interests shall I prefer and strive to attain? It is no answer to say “Whichever is to my greatest interest,” for that is like saying that “It is to my interest to seek what is to my interest.” What is required is a criterion or principle for deciding which kind of self-interest is the best. In order to get such a criterion, I must forget the relativistic or egoistic standpoint as being irrelevant or tautologous and go back to the old problem of traditional ethics and consider which of the various and more or less conflicting ideals of life possesses the greatest amount of objective value or goodness.

It is quite amusing to observe how Nietzsche, with a sublime unconsciousness of what he is doing, goes through this same circle of reasoning exactly as all the other defenders of egoism have done before.

Having discredited to his own satisfaction all moral codes and all uses of the terms “good” and “evil” as merely relative, and expressive only of the self-interest of some individual or group of individuals, and thus brought himself to the lofty standpoint of “beyond good and evil,” we find him suddenly indulging in such terms as “noble” and “base,” “heroic” and “contemptible,” “beautiful” and “ugly.” And he uses these words to characterize rules of conduct and types of character which he regards as intrinsically worthy and unworthy, respectively. He is a man of deeply moral nature and his moral preferences are far too profound and too passionate to permit him from mere self-consistency to retain an attitude of cynical indifference to the struggle of ideals. But he is naïve enough to suppose that by substituting æsthetic names like “noble” and “beautiful” for the conventional ethical names “good” and “virtuous,” he has got beyond the moral standpoint altogether. What he grandiosely describes as the “transvaluation of all values” is nothing more nor less than a defense of certain values which appear to Nietzsche as supremely and objectively righteous. But though our philosopher reveals himself as after all only a moralist, he is none the less a very original and important moralist. The main significance of his moral code can best be studied by contrasting it as he himself does with the current ideals of Christianity and democracy; but before entering upon that undertaking, there are two principles that serve Nietzsche as the metaphysical foundation of his ethics and which consequently should be mentioned in this introductory section of our exposition.

The first of these metaphysical principles is one that we have already spoken of in connection with the conception of ethical relativism. It expresses Nietzsche’s conviction that Nature’s Will to Power, which is the ground of all existence, as well as of all value, is a pluralistic will that manifests itself in conflicting tendencies, the realization of some of which would be incompatible with the realization of others. The life-need of the lion cannot be fulfilled save at the expense of the lamb. The needs of the higher men are often in outright opposition to those of the lower. Hence the greatest good cannot be a universal good. The attainment of the best must entail the frustration, or partial frustration, of certain aims which would otherwise be desirable and justifiable. This principle which generates Nietzsche’s ethical relativism remains with him throughout and is largely responsible for some of the harsher features of his constructive teaching. Its measure of truth depends upon the meaning which is given to the ideal of “power,” towards which all life must strive. If “power” is taken in the narrow or material sense of forcible dominance by one group over another group—then Nietzsche is right, and the attainment of life’s ideal by all would be impossible. If, however, “power” is interpreted more broadly (and Nietzsche himself sometimes so interprets it) as the fulfillment of all one’s capacities, an Aristotelian self-realization, there would be no necessary or permanent obstacle to its universal attainment.

The second basic principle of Nietzschean morality concerns the goal of the will to power, when conceived as a process of biological evolution. From every past species has evolved a higher species. Man must realize this trend of the life-force and put himself in harmony with it. He should ever treat himself as a bridge or transition between man and a being higher than man, a “beyond-man” or “superman” into which man may evolve. It is this superman which in Nietzsche’s system takes the place of God as the supreme object of devotion. Our dealings with our fellow-men and our own self-fulfillment are to be ruled in the light of this “being that is yet to be.” Most of the traditional religious values are associated with an attitude of looking backward in time and upward. In the Nietzschean substitute for religion they appear in a reversed perspective. The superman, whom we are to reverence, is our creature to whom we are to give being, not our creator, from whom we derive being. We are to look forward into the future for our inspiration, rather than backward into the past. In place of the semi-religious emotion of patriotism which is loyalty for our “fatherland” we must cultivate a new emotion for which there is as yet no name—a loyalty to our “children’s-land.” Marriage should possess a new significance; it should be treated as a eugenic sacrament, not to be entered into from motives of passion or friendship, but in the conviction that it may be the means of producing lives that are higher than ours, and that will then contribute to the evolution of the superman.

As Nietzsche’s attack upon all morality developed into a new form of morals, so his attack upon religion develops into a new form of religious piety. He is fond of telling us that “God is dead,” but descended as he is from long lines of parsons, he cannot be satisfied with any ordinary atheism. God’s death leaves in his deeply religious nature an emotional void which must be filled by the futuristic apotheosis of our superhuman posterity. Nietzsche’s ‘Zarathustra’ is the prophet of the superman and underneath the gay and blustering aphorisms of the new prophet, it is easy to detect the grim earnestness of old-time religion.

The very originality of this doctrine baffles the attempt to evaluate it. Always in the past, theology has been preceded by religion. Religious ceremonies and their attendant emotions have attained to a considerable development before there has been felt any need for their attempted rationalization as theology. We are now asked to reverse the process. A new kind of theology, that of the superman, is presented to us and we are expected to develop an emotional reaction. We can hardly achieve it. Our religious pieties have been so steeped in retrospection that we cannot easily make them prospective and face the future with a worshipful attitude. The Nietzschean demand that we substitute the strange thought of a Divine Posterity for the familiar thought of a Divine Father appeals to us as empty and bizarre. No new technique of religious feeling for dealing with it has as yet been developed, though it may come in time. And as to the truth or falsity of the superman theory, science affords no more determinate answer. There is no evidence that human nature has undergone any intrinsic evolution during the period of recorded history. Our progress has been cultural not biological. We see more than our ancestors only because we can stand upon their shoulders and profit by their mistakes, not because we are ourselves higher or greater than they were. We may indulge a well-founded hope that this cultural progress will continue, and there is a possibility that it may be supplemented by a mutation of a more intrinsic or biological character. But that the degree of such future progress will be comparable to our past progress from the simian to the human, and so justify the expectation of a new race of supermen, has hardly anything to support it, except the blind religious faith of Friedrich Nietzsche.


The men of the present day, so far as their moral ideals are concerned, are divided by Nietzsche into three classes: (1) There are the orthodox Christians who believe both in the theology of the Church and in her ethical teachings. These are the simple folk, numerous but unimportant. They have not even heard that God is dead, and hence their doctrine of life is consistent, though entirely false. They do not greatly matter. (2) There are the majority of educated people who have lost all the supernatural beliefs taught by the Church, but who inconsistently retain the whole system of Christian ideals. They flatter themselves with being “emancipated,” “anti-clerical,” “secularized,” “humanitarian,” but they are black Christians at heart for all their boasting and differ from the first class only in their possession of superficial culture. (3) There are those few who are really emancipated and disillusioned, who have discarded the morals as well as the theology of the Church, but who have found nothing positive to take the place of what they have lost. They alternate between a despairing attitude of universal denial which is nihilism or pessimism, and the feverish pursuit of frivolous and more or less degenerate doctrinal fads.

As a cure for all this mental and moral sickness, Nietzsche proffers his new gospel of Zarathustra as Anti-Christ. He begins by laying bare the origin of those Christian ideals which, whether they are reluctantly retained or reluctantly abandoned, are in either case the main source of the confusion and distress of the modern age.

The multitude of moral codes, each one of which has arisen as a disguised expression of the self-interest of some individual or group of individuals, can in the main be reduced to two generically opposed types: master-morality and slave-morality. Master-morality expresses the interests and ideals of great and successful men, the leaders of the race. It is summed up in two principles. (1) It is a life-affirming doctrine. All that makes for the fulfillment of impulse, appetite, ambition, power is good. (2) The power of the great man is incompatible with the power of lesser men, hence, hardness, pride, sternness, pitilessness are also good.

Slave-morality, of which Christianity is the most perfect example, is in both respects the opposite of master-morality. It is (1) a life-denying doctrine. All that makes for the fulfillment of impulse, appetite, ambition, power is evil. The obedient, the humble, the poor in spirit, the long suffering, those who turn the other cheek when unjustly smitten and who fight only against their own appetites of hunger and sex, and their own desires for fame and wealth, are blessed. (2) The denial of one’s self is associated with the service of others, hence love, gentleness, pity, devotion to all our fellows and particularly to the weak and suffering are also blessed. Christianity, in short, is life-denying and altruistic, while master-morality is life-affirming and egoistic.

To Nietzsche, the set of values embodied in the slave-morality of the Christians is the absolute inversion of the true or natural values embodied in master-morality, and the reason why these negative ideals have come to be generally accepted can only be understood by discovering the manner in which they originated, which is briefly as follows: The weak and unsuccessful man will make a virtue of necessity and imitate the fox in the fable of the sour grapes by eulogizing the irremediable conditions of his failure. What can’t be cured can be praised as a good, and what men call good they will end by believing to be good. Moreover, slaves that enjoy their servitude and regard obedience and non-resistance as virtues will be pleasing in the eyes of their masters. For a slave to cringe is good, but to praise and enjoy cringing is still better. In Nietzsche’s view, it is the Christian who says, “Evil be thou my good,” and in the saying he pleases his Master, assures his own safety, and even gains an illusion of self-respect that is a very real though unearthly consolation. It was for this reason that the Christian inversion of moral values made such a tremendous appeal to the weak and downtrodden masses to whom it was preached. Every slave, however, has in him something of the master’s nature, hence the inversion of values would, if taken all by itself, be a little too much of a tour de force. To meet this residual longing for real values, the Christian supplements his praise of earthly failure with a belief in another world, a paradise or heaven in which he will enjoy the kind of satisfaction that the unregenerate masters enjoy in this world. Thus the meek are blessed because of the intrinsic beauty of their meekness, and also because they will some day inherit the earth. It is small wonder that with this double appeal the Christian religion has carried all before it.

As for the second principle of Christianity—its ideal of service or love, it is explained by Nietzsche as a natural development of weakness. Weak individuals can only defend themselves by banding together, into a herd as do cattle when attacked by a lion. The sympathy and loyalty which Christians enjoin are the necessary manifestations of that spirit of co-operation which is essential to the success of any herd. Slave-morality is thus also herd-morality. Great and strong natures are capable of standing alone and have neither the need nor the obligation of sympathy and co-operation.

Now, if this were the whole story, all would be well. Christianity is a fit and wholesome doctrine for the lower classes, for it keeps them contented and orderly. Unfortunately, however, the diseases of slaves are sometimes caught by their owners; and Christianity has proved diabolically contagious in that it has spread through all ranks of society, so that many of the masters and natural leaders of men have been poisoned by its sophistry, and become self-enslaved. This weakening of the masters combined with the undue increase in the numbers and cohesiveness of the herd threatens humanity with ruin. Great men and their positive ideals are in danger of being absorbed by the crowd of small men and negative ideals. It is to avert this danger to humanity and to the superhumanity that is to come that Nietzsche sends Zarathustra to preach the gospel of Anti-Christ. And Zarathustra is to preach not to all men (for that would be both dangerous and futile), but to the few great men, who are exhorted to rouse themselves from their slumbrous subserviency to the morals and conventions of the herd, and to cast aside Christian law and humanitarian sentiment whenever those ideals operate to restrain the affirmation and development of their will to power. The positive morality of a life-affirming egoism is thus to replace among the masters the negative or Christian morality of a life-denying altruism, which is fit only for the slave-like herd who constitute the majority of mankind.

We can but indicate the line of thought by which Nietzsche’s grave and bitter arraignment of Christian ethics might be met. Of the two essentially Christian ideals, life-denial and altruism, the former deserves most of the condemnation which our philosopher pours out upon it. “Other worldly” asceticism should have no place in the modern occidental world, in which evolutionary progress here on earth is both an established fact and a living faith. The notion that self-abasement, poverty, and bodily misery are either good in themselves or good as preparation for a remote future life, while it has doubtless brought consolation to many downtrodden individuals, has, nevertheless, proved itself a reactionary force of the worst sort and a persistent obstacle to all forms of social progress. It has prevented the oppressed from protesting and has given moral sanction to the cruel indifference and complacence of the oppressors. The inverted ideal of repression and denial should be replaced by Zarathustra’s call to a life of affirmation and fulfillment. Whatever makes for the furtherance of life and the attainment of desire is in so far good. The only excuse for denying any of the impulses of nature is when their fulfillment would result in the thwarting of stronger or more numerous impulses on the part of ourselves or others. Moral evil is only the preference of a lesser to a greater good.

With the second of the Christian principles, namely, the ideal of altruism or love, the case is the reverse. If life-fulfillment is good, it is irrational and absurd to limit it to any one person or group, even if the person be one’s self and the group be one’s own class. The greatest, as well as the most accessible, form of self-realization consists in co-operating with others and helping wherever help is needed. To follow Nietzsche and banish Christian charity by limiting one’s ideal of power or life-enhancement to a harsh and narrow dominance over others would not only be irrational, it would deprive the one thus acting of that broadest and most enduring form of happiness, which consists in sympathy with all and more especially with the weak whose need is most urgent. The problem of modern ethics is to purge Christian altruism of its taint of asceticism, and to purge the life-affirming ideals of Nietzsche of their taint of cruelty and selfishness, and then combine the two ideals into a single system.


Democracy is applied Christianity, and for that reason Nietzsche hates it. The Christians would exalt the humble and humiliate the powerful. The democrats would exalt the commonplace Demos and reduce to the dead level of mediocrity all men of superior strength and ability. Democracy may call itself anti-clerical and humanitarian and boast of its emancipation from theological superstition, but it retains, nevertheless, the essential error of the religion from which it sprung. Political democracy is the enthronement of herd-morality and herd-mentality in the realm of government. It is bad enough, but the economic democracy or socialism which is the goal of democratic evolution is far worse. For in socialism we have herd-morality supreme not only in government, but in property and industry, and hence in all domains of human affairs.

The strength of the Nietzschean criticism of democracy can be illustrated as follows: Imagine all the individuals of a community to be arranged in a series according to their abilities. Assume that the series runs from zero per cent. at its lowest to 100 per cent. at its highest. If such a community is democratically operated, each member will possess an equal share in directing its affairs and receiving its benefits, with the result that the efficiency of management will be exactly 50 per cent., or just one half what it would be under the aristocratic plan in which the best members or those ranking 100 per cent. in ability are the rulers. Why should we tolerate government by the average when we might have government by the best? In organizing any private enterprise we should, as a matter of course, secure our directors from the expert minority of ability. Why should we make a wasteful exception to the rule of reason in the great enterprise of political and economic government?

Nietzsche’s theory of aristocracy differs in two respects from the traditional conception. (1) He does not identify his ideal aristocracy with any of the actually established aristocracies, not even that of his own country. He is not a nationalist, and he would not base the claim to aristocratic privilege on the inheritance of wealth or title. Not the Junkers of Prussia but the best men of Europe should have the power to rule; and they would constitute an aristocracy de jure and not merely de facto. (2) The second point in which Nietzsche differs from the ordinary Tory is in the thoroughgoingness of his advocacy of aristocracy. The democratic slogan is “Government of the people, for the people, and by the people”; the traditional aristocrat replies: “Government of the people for the benefit of all, but conducted by the few.” Nietzsche, however, would have government of the people, conducted by the few and for the benefit of the few. In other words, he has no patience with the tory pretense of noblesse oblige, or the claim that an aristocracy is really in the interest of the majority. The herd will, to be sure, get certain incidental benefits from the rule of great men, just as cattle benefit from the shade of a great tree. But the tree exists for its own sake and not for the sake of the cattle, and analogously your true aristocrats will use and should use the power which they seize for their own welfare, rather than for the welfare of the people. For, to Nietzsche, true goodness or power is intensive rather than extensive and the real value of any group or race is measured by the greatness of its greatest members and not by the uniformly distributed greatness of its average. A community of groveling slaves which contained a single Napoleon or Shakespeare, would be preferable to a community composed entirely of prosperous and fairly intelligent Philistines.

To what extent and in what manner can we answer Nietzsche’s attack upon the ideals of democracy? I believe that we can answer it to the same extent and in the same manner that we answered his attack upon the ideals of Christianity. For Nietzsche is right in maintaining that democracy despite all of its secular formulations is nothing but Christianity applied to the field of government. In each case it is an affair of the dominance of herd-morality over master-morality. It will be remembered that we found the Christian ethics to be summed up in two ideals: (1) asceticism or a denial of one’s own will to life; (2) altruism or love of other lives. While Nietzsche’s anti-Christianity was similarly reducible to the two principles opposed to the above, namely, (1) the will to power, or the right and duty of affirming one’s own life-impulses; (2) egoism or the disregard of other lives. We suggested that the conflict could be solved by a doctrine of life-affirming altruism, which would combine the second of the Christian principles with the first of those of Nietzsche. Now the democratic philosophy of government like Christianity itself can be shown to embody two main principles, one of which is false and subject to the objection brought against it by Nietzsche, while the other is true and capable of being harmonized with what is best in the Nietzschean ideals of aristocracy. These principles are as follows: (1) All men are equal in the sense that they have equal and uniform abilities. Whatever varies from the average should be crushed by the herd and made to conform. (2) All men are equal in the sense that they merit equal opportunities to develop their various and unequal abilities. Freedom to vary from the average is a universal right and the chief source of progress; it should be encouraged by the herd rather than suppressed.

Against the first of these doctrines, Nietzsche’s argument is unanswerable, but when we come to the second principle of democracy, in which the equality of all men is interpreted as equality of opportunity, the situation is reversed. The same moral sense which approves your own right to develop your capacities carries with it a recognition of the equal right of your neighbor to develop his capacities. The ground for giving the great man a chance to make himself great is also a ground for giving the little man a chance to make himself as great as he can. The right of each is the right of all; and as long as we are possessed of reason and a social sense we cannot regard the right to a fair start in the race for life as other than universal. Moreover, social expediency and efficiency reinforces individual justice. For the only way to discover the fastest runners is to allow all to run. So far from being opposed to aristocracy, democracy in the true sense is the least fallible method of finding the genuine aristocrats, and conferring power upon them. Only by an artificially imposed equality of opportunity can we disclose natural inequalities of merit.

If we were to follow Nietzsche in opposing this second principle of democracy, and deny the right to equality of opportunity, we should secure not the superior members of his de jure aristocracy but only such artificially and accidentally privileged persons as constitute the de facto aristocracies of the present day. And, finally, the same considerations that would dictate the choice of aristocrats by a democracy of equal rights, would operate to prevent the aristocrats when once chosen from ruling exclusively in their own interest as Nietzsche would have them rather than in the interest of all. For the only way to retain either their power or their right to power would be to preserve the fair play for the many on which the discovery of the truly great must depend. In short, Nietzsche was wrong in believing that there is any necessary incompatibility between the intensive excellence and efficiency embodied in great leaders and the extensive excellence or justice embodied in the welfare and prosperity of the entire community. Those who ruled by force over an oppressed people could never be as great as those who owed their rise to victory in honorable competition. In general the fairest race produces as its winners the fastest runners.

Our analysis of Nietzsche’s anti-democracy has led us to conclude that the half of his theory of aristocracy in which he emphasises the importance of providing for the inequalities of men and for the freedom of the great from the tyranny of the majority is true, and that the form of democracy opposed to it is false; while the second half of his theory in which he proclaims the right of the few to tyrannize in their own interest over the many we find to be false, and the opposing principle of democracy as equality of opportunity we find to be not only true in itself but actually implied as a corollary of what is justifiable in his own theory of aristocracy. In short, Nietzsche’s aristocratic philosophy of politics can supplement our traditional theory of democracy in the same way and to the same extent that his life-affirming philosophy of morals can supplement our traditional theory of Christianity.

Nietzsche’s work will endure, for its appeal is to the deepest instincts of human nature, both those of good and those of evil.