Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten).

The Wanderer and his Shadow, the second supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1880.


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Previous Section   284. THE MEANS TOWARDS GENUINE PEACE   Next Section

The Means towards Genuine Peace.  No government will nowadays admit that it maintains an army in order to satisfy occasionally its passion for conquest.  The army is said to serve only defensive purposes.  This morality, which justifies self defence, is called in as the government's advocate.  This means, however, reserving morality for ourselves and immorality for our neighbour, because he must be thought eager for attack and conquest if our state is forced to consider means of self defence.  At the same time, by our explanation of our need of an army (because he denies the lust of attack just as our state does, and ostensibly also maintains his army for defensive reasons), we proclaim him a hypocrite and cunning criminal, who would fain seize by surprise, without any fighting.  a harmless and unwary victim.  In this attitude all states face each other today.  They presuppose evil intentions on their neighbour's part and good intentions on their own.  This hypothesis, however, is an inhuman notion, as bad as and worse than war.  Nay, at bottom it is a challenge and motive to war, foisting as it does upon the neighbouring state the charge of immorality, and thus provoking hostile intentions and acts.  The doctrine of the army as a means of self defence must be abjured as completely as the lust of conquest.  Perhaps a memorable day will come when a nation renowned in wars and victories, distinguished by the highest development of military order and intelligence, and accustomed to make the heaviest sacrifice to these objects, will voluntarily exclaim, "We will break our swords” and will destroy its whole military system, lock, stock, and barrel.  Making ourselves defenceless (after having been the most strongly defended) from a loftiness of sentiment — that is the means towards genuine peace, which must always rest upon a pacific disposition.  The so called armed peace that prevails at present in all countries is a sign of a bellicose disposition, of a disposition that trusts neither itself nor its neighbour, and, partly from hate, partly from fear, refuses to lay down its weapons.  Better to perish than to hate and fear, and twice as far better to perish than to make oneself hated and feared — this must someday become the supreme maxim of every political community!  — Our liberal representatives of the people, as is well known, have not the time for reflection on the nature of humanity, or else they would know that they are working in vain when they work for "a gradual diminution of the military burdens”.  On the contrary, when the distress of these burdens is greatest, the sort of God who alone can help here will be nearest.  The tree of military glory can only be destroyed at one swoop, with one stroke of lightning.  But, as you know, lightning comes from the cloud and from above.  

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