Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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We Homeless Ones.

Among the Europeans of today there are not lacking those who may call themselves homeless ones in a way which is at once a distinction and an honour; it is by them that my secret wisdom and gay science is especially to be laid to heart!  For their lot is hard, their hope uncertain; it is a clever feat to devise consolation for them.  But what good does it do!  We children of the future, how could we be at home in the present?  We are unfavourable to all ideals which could make us feel at home in this frail, broken-down, transition period; and as regards the "realities" thereof, we do not believe in their endurance.  The ice which still carries has become very thin: the thawing wind blows; we ourselves, the homeless ones, are an agency that breaks the ice, and the other too thin "realities".  We "preserve" nothing, nor would we return to any past age; we are not at all "liberal" we do not labour for "progress" we do not need first to stop our ears to the song of the market-place and the sirens of the future their song of "equal rights", "free society" "no longer either lords or slaves" does not allure us!  We do not by any means think it desirable that the kingdom of righteousness and peace should be established on earth (because under any circumstances it would be the kingdom of the profoundest mediocrity and Chinaism); we rejoice in all men, who like ourselves love danger, war and adventure, who do not make compromises, nor let themselves be captured, conciliated and stunted; we count ourselves among the conquerors; we ponder over the need of a new order of things, even of a new slavery for every strengthening and elevation of the type "man" also involves a new form of slavery.  Is it not obvious that with all this we must feel ill at ease in an age which claims the honour of being the most humane, gentle and just that the sun has ever seen?  What a pity that at the mere mention of these fine words, the thoughts at the bottom of our hearts are all the more unpleasant, that we see therein only the expression or the masquerade of profound weakening, exhaustion, age, and declining power!  What can it matter to us with what kind of tinsel an invalid decks out his weakness?  He may parade it as his virtue; there is no doubt whatever that weakness makes people gentle, alas, so gentle, so just, so inoffensive, so "humane"!  The "religion of pity" to which people would like to convert us- oh, we know well enough the hysterical little men and women who need this religion at present as a veil and an adornment!  We are no humanitarians; we should not dare to speak of our "love of mankind"; for that, a person of our stamp is not enough of an actor!  Or not sufficiently Saint-Simonist, not sufficiently French.  A person must have been affected with a Gallic excess of erotic susceptibility and amorous impatience even to approach mankind honourably with his lewdness.  Mankind!  Was there ever a more hideous old woman among all old women (unless perhaps it were "the Truth": a question for philosophers)?  No, we do not love Mankind!  On the other hand, however, we are not nearly "German" enough (in the sense in which the word "German" is current at present) to advocate nationalism and race-hatred, or take delight in the national heart-itch and blood-poisoning, on account of which the nations of Europe are at present bounded off and secluded from one another as if by quarantines.  We are too unprejudiced for that, too perverse, too fastidious; also too well-informed and too much "travelled".  We prefer much rather to live on mountains, apart and "out of season” in past or coming centuries, in order merely to spare ourselves the silent rage to which we know we should be condemned as witnesses of a system of politics which makes the German nation barren by making it vain, and which is a petty system besides: will it not be necessary for this system to plant itself between two mortal hatreds, lest its own creation should immediately collapse?  Will it not be obliged to desire the perpetuation of the petty-state system of Europe?  We homeless ones are too diverse and mixed in race and descent for "modern men" and are consequently little tempted to participate in the falsified racial self-admiration and lewdness which at present display themselves in Germany, as signs of German sentiment, and which strike one as doubly false and unbecoming in the people with the "historical sense".  We are, in a word and it shall be our word of honour!  Good Europeans, the heirs of Europe, the rich, over-wealthy heirs, but too deeply obligated heirs of millenniums of European thought.  As such, we have also outgrown Christianity, and are disinclined to it and just because we have grown out of it, because our forefathers were Christians uncompromising in their Christian integrity, who willingly sacrificed possessions and positions, blood and country, for the sake of their belief.  We do the same.  For what then?  For our unbelief?  For all sorts of unbelief?  Nay, you know better than that, my friends!  The hidden Yea in you is stronger than all the Nays and Perhapses, of which you and your age are sick; and when you are obliged to put out to sea, you emigrants, it is once more a faith which urges you thereto!  
 

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