Friedrich Nietzsche, Human All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), subtitled A Book for Free Spirits (Ein Buch für freie Geister).

First published in 1878.   A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche), was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten), followed in 1880.

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Previous Section   438. ASKING TO BE HEARD   Next Section

ASKING TO BE HEARD.  The demagogic disposition and the intention of working upon the masses is at present common to all political parties; on this account they are all obliged to change their principles into great al fresco follies and thus make a show of them.  In this matter there is no further alteration to be made: indeed, it is superfluous even to raise a finger against it; for here Voltaire's saying applies: "Quand la populace se mele de raisonner, tout est perdu" Since this has happened we have to accommodate ourselves to the new conditions, as we have to accommodate ourselves when an earthquake has displaced the old boundaries and the contour of the land and altered the value of property.  Moreover, when it is once for all a question in the politics of all parties to make life endurable to the greatest possible majority, this majority may always decide what they understand by an endurable life; if they believe their intellect capable of finding the right means to this end why should we doubt about it?  They want, once for all, to be the architects of their own good or ill fortune; and if their feeling of free choice and their pride in the five or six ideas that their brain conceals and brings to light, really makes life so agreeable to them that they gladly put up with the fatal consequences of their narrow mindedness, there is little to object to, provided that their narrow-mindedness does not go so far as to demand that everything shall become politics in this sense, that all shall live and act according to this standard.  For, in the first place, it must be more than ever permissible for some people to keep aloof from politics and to stand somewhat aside.  To this they are also impelled by the pleasure of free choice, and connected with this there may even be some little pride in keeping silence when too many, and only the many, are speaking.  Then this small group must be excused if they do not attach such great importance to the happiness of the majority (nations or strata of population may be understood thereby), and are occasionally guilty of an ironical grimace; for their seriousness lies elsewhere, their conception of happiness is quite different, and their aim cannot be encompassed by every clumsy hand that has just five fingers.  Finally, there comes from time to time what is certainly most difficult to concede to them, but must also be conceded a moment when they emerge from their silent solitariness and try once more the strength of their lungs; they then call to each other like people lost in a wood, to make themselves known and for mutual encouragement; whereby, to be sure, much becomes audible that sounds evil to ears for which it is not intended.  Soon, however, silence again prevails in the wood, such silence that the buzzing, humming, and fluttering of the countless insects that live in, above, and beneath it, are again plainly heard.  

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