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Beyond Good and Evil

Friedrich Nietzsche

8 - "Peoples and Fatherlands"

7 - "Our Virtues"

8 - "Peoples and Fatherlands", page 2

page 1 of 3


As the title suggests, this chapter deals primarily with nationalism and nationalities. While heavy spirits spend half their life wallowing in the prejudices and narrow-mindedness of nationalistic sentiment, Nietzsche suggests that even "good Europeans" descend into such stupidity for brief moments. He alludes to his earlier remarks about women as "a plop and relapse into old loves and narrownesses."

Nietzsche finds modern Europe most strongly characterized by the democratic movement that will mix the races of Europe together, creating increasingly less national distinctiveness. While it will breed a great deal of mediocrity, it will also prove the source for a very few, very exceptional spirits.

A great deal of this chapter deals with Nietzsche's discussion of different races, particularly the Germans. The Germans, more than any other race, are made up of a great mixture of bloods: there is no such thing as "pure" German. As a result, the German spirit is complex and mysterious, without any firm definition. The Germans see this complexity as profundity, and are often considered a profound race.

Nietzsche criticizes German literature and language for lacking a sense of rhythm and tempo. In ancient times, when reading was always done aloud, the sound of a language was crucial. Now that everyone reads silently, there are few writers who still understand the natural music of language.

Nietzsche draws a distinction between races that, like women, need to be fertilized and give birth; and races that, like men, need to beget and impregnate. He takes the Greeks and the French as examples of "feminine" races, who assimilate the force and spirit of other races and craft it into something beautiful. Among "masculine" races, Nietzsche suggests Romans and Germans, but above all, the Jews. These are races whose creative drive is absorbed by the cultures they contact, giving the impetus for great creations.

Nietzsche speaks highly of the Jews, saying that, while they are responsible for slave morality and the grand style of moralizing, this creative act has been one of the greatest Europe has ever seen. Nietzsche asserts that the Jews are the strongest race in Europe, and that German anti-Semitism arises precisely because Germany is unable to cope with the strength of Jewish spirit. Contrary to anti-Semitic paranoia, Nietzsche suggests that the Jews do not want to take over Europe. Rather, they want to be assimilated by Europe, and this could only be to Europe's benefit.

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