On the Herd Morality, or The Challenge by bernadette
February 7, 2009, 12:00 am
Filed under: philosophy

202. Let us at once say again what we have already said a hundred
times, for people’s ears nowadays are unwilling to hear such
truths–OUR truths. We know well enough how offensive it sounds
when any one plainly, and without metaphor, counts man among the
animals, but it will be accounted to us almost a CRIME, that it
is precisely in respect to men of “modern ideas” that we have
constantly applied the terms “herd,” “herd-instincts,” and such
like expressions. What avail is it? We cannot do otherwise, for
it is precisely here that our new insight is. We have found that
in all the principal moral judgments, Europe has become
unanimous, including likewise the countries where European
influence prevails in Europe people evidently KNOW what Socrates
thought he did not know, and what the famous serpent of old once
promised to teach–they “know” today what is good and evil.

It must then sound hard and be distasteful to the ear, when we
always insist that that which here thinks it knows, that which
here glorifies itself with praise and blame, and calls itself
good, is the instinct of the herding human animal, the instinct
which has come and is ever coming more and more to the front, to
preponderance and supremacy over other instincts, according to
the increasing physiological approximation and resemblance of
which it is the symptom. MORALITY IN EUROPE AT PRESENT IS
HERDING-ANIMAL MORALITY, and therefore, as we understand the
matter, only one kind of human morality, beside which, before
which, and after which many other moralities, and above all
HIGHER moralities, are or should be possible. Against such a
“possibility,” against such a “should be,” however, this morality
defends itself with all its strength, it says obstinately and
inexorably “I am morality itself and nothing else is morality!”
Indeed, with the help of a religion which has humoured and
flattered the sublimest desires of the herding-animal, things
have reached such a point that we always find a more visible
expression of this morality even in political and social
arrangements: the DEMOCRATIC movement is the inheritance of the
Christian movement.

That its TEMPO, however, is much too slow and
sleepy for the more impatient ones, for those who are sick and
distracted by the herding-instinct, is indicated by the
increasingly furious howling, and always less disguised teeth-
gnashing of the anarchist dogs, who are now roving through the
highways of European culture. Apparently in opposition to the
peacefully industrious democrats and Revolution-ideologues, and
still more so to the awkward philosophasters and fraternity-
visionaries who call themselves Socialists and want a “free
society,” those are really at one with them all in their thorough
and instinctive hostility to every form of society other than
that of the AUTONOMOUS herd (to the extent even of repudiating
the notions “master” and “servant”–ni dieu ni maitre, says a
socialist formula); at one in their tenacious opposition to every
special claim, every special right and privilege (this means
ultimately opposition to EVERY right, for when all are equal, no
one needs “rights” any longer); at one in their distrust of
punitive justice (as though it were a violation of the weak,
unfair to the NECESSARY consequences of all former society); but
equally at one in their religion of sympathy, in their compassion
for all that feels, lives, and suffers (down to the very animals,
up even to “God”–the extravagance of “sympathy for God” belongs
to a democratic age); altogether at one in the cry and impatience
of their sympathy, in their deadly hatred of suffering generally,
in their almost feminine incapacity for witnessing it or ALLOWING
it; at one in their involuntary beglooming and heart-softening,
under the spell of which Europe seems to be threatened with a new
Buddhism; at one in their belief in the morality of MUTUAL
sympathy, as though it were morality in itself, the climax, the
ATTAINED climax of mankind, the sole hope of the future, the
consolation of the present, the great discharge from all the
obligations of the past; altogether at one in their belief in the
community as the DELIVERER, in the herd, and therefore in

Friedrich Nietzsche
Excerpt from “On the Natural History of Morals”
Beyond Good and Evil: A Prelude of a Philosophy of the Future


Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: