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Beyond Good and Evil

5 - "Natural History of Morals"

Summary 5 - "Natural History of Morals"

In urging us to sublimate our will to power, Nietzsche does not pretend to be speaking to everybody. Some of us were simply born to be mindless slaves, according to Nietzsche, and those people are not his concern. What worries Nietzsche is that the minority that is potentially great has been seduced by the preaching of the herd and has attempted to follow the same rules as everyone else. These rules, Nietzsche claims, exist in large part precisely to keep these freer, more dangerous spirits in line. Democracy is just one more attempt to force us all to be equal.

While it is easy for an atheist reader of Nietzsche to nod passively at his criticisms of Christianity, morality, or mediocrity, it might raise a few eyebrows when he vilifies democracy. After all, most of us have been brought up to think of democracy as a great thing. This commentary will not attempt a synthesis of Nietzsche and the democratic spirit, and it will not take a side; instead, it will rest content in having highlighted just one way in which Nietzsche's bold worldview is mightily at odds with everything we presently take for granted. If anything, the liberal democracies of today would seem far worse to Nietzsche than his own Germany. Our consumer- driven society is fully geared toward making life as easy as possible for everyone. A sublimated will to power is a result of a struggle that demands that we make life as difficult as possible.

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