Beyond Good and Evil HTML version

A statesman who rears up for them a new Tower of Babel, some monstrosity of empire
and power, they call 'great'--what does it matter that we more prudent and conservative
ones do not meanwhile give up the old belief that it is only the great thought that gives
greatness to an action or affair. Supposing a statesman were to bring his people into the
position of being obliged henceforth to practise 'high politics,' for which they were by
nature badly endowed and prepared, so that they would have to sacrifice their old and
reliable virtues, out of love to a new and doubtful mediocrity;-- supposing a statesman
were to condemn his people generally to 'practise politics,' when they have hitherto had
something better to do and think about, and when in the depths of their souls they have
been unable to free themselves from a prudent loathing of the restlessness, emptiness, and
noisy wranglings of the essentially politics-practising nations;--supposing such a
statesman were to stimulate the slumbering passions and avidities of his people, were to
make a stigma out of their former diffidence and delight in aloofness, an offence out of
their exoticism and hidden permanency, were to depreciate their most radical proclivities,
subvert their consciences, make their minds narrow, and their tastes 'national'--what! a
statesman who should do all this, which his people would have to do penance for
throughout their whole future, if they had a future, such a statesman would be GREAT,
would he?"--"Undoubtedly!" replied the other old patriot vehemently, "otherwise he
COULD NOT have done it! It was mad perhaps to wish such a thing! But perhaps
everything great has been just as mad at its commencement!"-- "Misuse of words!" cried
his interlocutor, contradictorily-- "strong! strong! Strong and mad! NOT great!"--The old
men had obviously become heated as they thus shouted their "truths" in each other's
faces, but I, in my happiness and apartness, considered how soon a stronger one may
become master of the strong, and also that there is a compensation for the intellectual
superficialising of a nation--namely, in the deepening of another.
242. Whether we call it "civilization," or "humanising," or "progress," which now
distinguishes the European, whether we call it simply, without praise or blame, by the
political formula the DEMOCRATIC movement in Europe--behind all the moral and
political foregrounds pointed to by such formulas, an immense PHYSIOLOGICAL
PROCESS goes on, which is ever extending the process of the assimilation of Europeans,
their increasing detachment from the conditions under which, climatically and
hereditarily, united races originate, their increasing independence of every definite
milieu, that for centuries would fain inscribe itself with equal demands on soul and body,-
-that is to say, the slow emergence of an essentially SUPER-NATIONAL and nomadic
species of man, who possesses, physiologically speaking, a maximum of the art and
power of adaptation as his typical distinction. This process of the EVOLVING
EUROPEAN, which can be retarded in its TEMPO by great relapses, but will perhaps
just gain and grow thereby in vehemence and depth--the still-raging storm and stress of
"national sentiment" pertains to it, and also the anarchism which is appearing at present--
this process will probably arrive at results on which its naive propagators and panegyrists,
the apostles of "modern ideas," would least care to reckon. The same new conditions
under which on an average a levelling and mediocrising of man will take place--a useful,
industrious, variously serviceable, and clever gregarious man--are in the highest degree
suitable to give rise to exceptional men of the most dangerous and attractive qualities.
For, while the capacity for adaptation, which is every day trying changing conditions, and