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NIETZSCHE AND HIS TEACHINGS

THE EVIL GENIUS OF GERMANY

[By Du E. Griffith-Jonks, in the ‘ Christian World.’]

.Seven years ago, when I was spending a happy summer Semester in the German universities, and studying the main currents of thought among the gebildetcn, or cultured classes, I was- struck by tho considerable emphasis laid by several of the leading men with whom I came in contact on'" the extent to which the cult of Nietzsche was in the ascendant among tho ruling and official people. We are now reaping tho consequences of that movement in a harvest of blood and tears. For the German attitude in this war is •the translation into action of the theories of that bold and unscrupulous thinker; and it is against Nietzsche that the rest of the world is instinctively under arms. Every ace has produced its atheists and materialists who have conspired against the Christian view of God and of the world: but almost all of them have shirked the logical issue of their theories, and have retained the Christian morality while repudiating the world-view on which it is based. It was reserved for Nietzsche alone to take tho last fateful step, to pour contemptoosn s the ethics of Jesus, to proclaim Him a charlatan and a knave, and to erect instead an altar to the God of Force, which is the true and onlv Antichrist. He may bo described among the thinkers of the nineteenth centurv 'as the only man to put the real alternative of the Christian Creed. Ho had the courage to do this boldly and without compromise, and he had the "emus to nut the ease with tho breadth of a philosopher and the. zeal of a prophet. In reading wo find ourselves in a topsy-turvy ethical universe. All we had been taught to consider sacred is cast out as contemptible; all we bad learnt to deem shocking and hateful is elevated into the “new law of the prophets." There is in Nietzsche a “transvaluation of all values”: wo are taken into the region “beyond good and evil”; and in that Gotterdammernng or “ twilight of all the gods” m hear the strident voice of his “ Zarnthuatra ” crying aloud —“a new beatitude give 1 unto you : Bo hard ! ’ —A Foothold Hard to Move. —

During Iho seventies and eighties, when he wrote his chief works,, two influences gave this revolutionary thinker his foothold —the one in the world of thought, the other in the world of affairs. The first was Darwinism, with its theory of the “survival of the fittest ” (i.0.. the strongest), which furnished him with his philosophical basis; the second was Bismarckism, which for the time seemed to justifv a cynical disregard of all ethical principle by the rise of the German Krnpira on the* basis of au iron-bound mill - , tary system and a crooked diplomacy. It fa easy to pour contempt on tha teachings o'f Nietzsche from the standpoint of assured Christian faith ; it is not easy to disprove its consistence with the crude Darwinian philosophy that once prevailed —more, it is truer in Germany than hero, whero onr theories arc seldom carried to their practical conclusions. For pure Darwinism spells pure egoism ; the race is to the swift (an*d the cunning), and the battle to the strong. And N ict/.f theism is egoism in cxceUis : it is tnc philosopaieai justification of privilege, and power, and pnfihfillness. From tins point ot view Nietzsche's ‘ Weltanschauung ’ is that of tho “monsters ot the. slime”—the uinosaurus and the ichthyosaurus who perished because (like Kipling’s baboon) there was “too much ego in their cosmos.” The subliniatic and refined hut truculent selfassortion winch war. Nietzsche’s central principle of thought and conduct is « hojieless anachronism; it is a phase which many even of the higher creature races have outgrown, as every beehive and antheap demonstrates: and if there is any rare of Supermen to develop, it must bo along other lines of tin? “mad philosopher.”

—The Weaker to the Mall.—

None the less. Nietzsche has had nn enormous vogue in his own land—not indeed among responsible thinkers. hut j among the class who have shaped German international policy and erected the aystern of cast-iron militarism, under which his countrymen have been burdened for nearly 50 years. He has helped to build up that amazing new science which goes by the high-sounding name of Welt Politik, whoso chief characteristic seems to lie the negation of every law of honor and every piinciplc of justice, especially towards weaker nations. ' And lie has fed into vigor tho spirit which has made the soldier into a profossioual bully who sabres down civilians on tho pica of “ putative, cell-defence." and which, as H. G. Wells has recently said, "is full of devices such a,, us poor fools cannot invent : sudden attacks without a decairation of war: va«t schemes for spy sy.dcms. and assas-siu-hke disguises,' the cowing of a country by the wholesale shooting of civil non-combnMints, breaches of neutrality, national treacheries, altered despatches, forged letters, diplomatic lies, a perfect world-organisation of .super-sneaks.” This is the practical issue of NieUscheism. And. it is against this Frankenstein monster that Uio world is under arms just now. Mr Asquith's great speech was a clarion-cr.il to all the Tiigher instincts of tho civilised world to rise and put an cud to an intolerable attempt to enthrone —'Die Gospel of the Bully—in the h'*ai t of modern Km ope. To allow this would ha to revelse the course of Inslorv for 2.0C0 years and to unlearn all the higher lessons of human experience. It is good to find that cur Prime Minister’s attitude has been instantly justified, not only by the united and nnnesilating judgment of tho people of this lend and its dependencies, hut by lire conscience of the civilised world. Let us pray that tho sword ho not sheathed till the fell monster of militarism has been “hied white,” so that international politics may cuter on a, new and healthier phase, and the same morality is honored among diplomatists as in the social relationships of respectable men and women. It is of the utmost impoitanco that this fundamental aspect of lhe war should be grasped at the present moment. We arc fighting, not agaimt a nation, hut against au intolerable system. Nay, surely wo are not at war against tho German people. We are fighting for them as well an for the Belgians and for ourselves. For they, after all, are the true victims of the system against which we have taken arms* in this tremendous crusade. And they aro a great people to whom the world owes a debt such as it owes lo scarcely ainy other nation. They are our kinsfolk by blood. They are our benefactors in philosophy, theology, science, discovery, invention, literature, religion. If we aro wise, and self-restrained, and chivalrous in the way wo conduct, tin's campaign ;if we refuse'to harbor resentment, and arc slow to credit the easy danders of rumor, and quick to recognise valor and self-devotion, and—should Urn victory happllv he with us—generous in our conditions of peace, it will be but time. Germany may sorely need a friend ere this struggle is finally settled. It is our duty first and foremost, to break in pieces like a potter’s vessel the {lowers of tho military caste in Europe whose centre is Berlin; it should he our next duty lo see that the German ■nation is enabled to emerge from this baptism of blood and fire a regenerated and enfranchised people, whoso great past dial! find its climax in a greater

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141109.2.43

Bibliographic details

NIETZSCHE AND HIS TEACHINGS, Evening Star, Issue 15645, 9 November 1914

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1,264

NIETZSCHE AND HIS TEACHINGS Evening Star, Issue 15645, 9 November 1914

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