Friedrich Nietzsche, Miscellaneous Maxims and opinions (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche).

Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions, the first supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1879.  A second supplement, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten) followed in 1880.


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Previous Section   318. OF THE MASTERY OF THOSE THAT KNOW   Next Section

Of the Mastery of Those that Know.  It is easy, ridiculously easy, to set up a model for the choice of a legislative body.  First of all the honest and reliable men of the nation, who at the same time are masters and experts in some one branch, have to become prominent by mutual scenting-out and recognition.  From these, by a narrower process of selection, the learned and expert of the first rank in each individual branch must again be chosen, also by mutual recognition and guarantee.  If the legislative body be composed of these, it will finally be necessary, in each individual case, that only the voices and judgments of the most specialised experts should decide; the honesty of all the rest should have become so great that it is simply a matter of decency to leave the voting also in the hands of these men.  The result would be that the law, in the strictest sense, would emanate from the intelligence of the most intelligent.  As things now are, voting is done by parties, and at every division there must be hundreds of uneasy consciences among the ill-taught, the incapable of judgment, among those who merely repeat, imitate, and go with the tide.  Nothing lowers the dignity of a new law so much as this inherent shamefaced feeling of insincerity that necessarily results at every party division.  But, as has been said, it is easy, ridiculously easy, to set up such a model: no power on earth is at present strong enough to realise such an ideal — unless the belief in the highest utility of knowledge, and of those that know, at last dawns even upon the most hostile minds and is preferred to the prevalent belief in majorities.  In the sense of such a future may our watchword be: "More reverence for them that know, and down with all parties”!  

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