Friedrich Nietzsche and the Death of Morality



If there were a man, superior in intellect, superior in ability, superior in discernment, evaluation, devaluation, subtextual perception and a pure embodiment of power, what benefits will morality bring him?

This is the question that Friedrich Nietzsche brings to our attention repeatedly throughout his works.

This is the question with which Nietzsche destroyed morality.

Whether you agree with his view of life or not, this question brings into the spotlight in the most poignant manner the very essence of the crisis in moral integrity today.

Nietzsche’s view of nature was extremely aristocratic. Not the aristocracy of race or nobility, but the aristocracy of greatness. For him, the entire phenomenon of nature was geared solely to facilitate the existence of five or six truly great men (if even those many) in a generation. Truly great men, not the easy adjective which we would fain fling at any passing flash in the pan.

The peculiarity of genius is that it can take mankind in directions that no amount of coordinated and fraternal effort could achieve on its own. No mass of mediocre, or even highly talented minds put together can quite traverse that gap that exists between intelligence and genius. Only one mind can even fathom the idea, only one mind is capable of envisioning the path. Its execution may be left to the rest of man, but the power of its conceptualization lies with the genius alone.

Now conjecture the existence, if only hypothetically, of this great man within a civilized society with an established moral code. An education system trained to make a nation think alike, a religious ethic drilled into society from infancy to enforce and then reinforce one trait and one trait only, supreme above all others: Humility.

Consider now, what this worship of humility as a virtue and condemnation of hubris as a flaw will do to a mind that is, indeed above all others; a mind that can only function on planes and in dimensions not even visible, let alone accessible, to the average man. A mind that cannot afford to take on obligations and responsibilities lumped upon him by those below him. A mind that births ideas that cannot be encumbered by considerations of charity or sympathy.

Just as Niccolò Machiavelli demands that a ruler’s only responsibility be the welfare of the state, and that he may not be judged on a moral basis but only on the basis of his competence in maintaining the welfare of the state, Nietzsche demands a similar attitude towards the higher form of men.

Morals and morality were created to keep the raving minds of masses in check and channel their energies in a uniform manner. But one whose mind does not come of the same stock, must he be judged by the same standard? Must everything always be watered down to the lowest common denominator? Must humanity always gear itself to help the weakest at the cost of the strongest?

In most existing societies, the answer to the above questions are a resounding Yes. Nietzsche’s is a resounding No. The harmful effects of this sort of decadent morality, he would point out, is clearly demarcated in the chaos that follows every attempt at the introduction of democracy or socialism in a country. Both these forms of governments share one thing in common, the masses are handed the power of tyranny. The herd mentality plays dictator. Every decision, every policy, every reform would have to consider the lowest amongst us and set it to his levels. The best teachers are engaged in teaching the weakest students, the best students have to make do with the average professor. Public expenditure is lavished on sustaining those unable to sustain themselves. One may argue that this is what differentiates humans from animals, this ability to ignore the natural hierarchy and aid one and all as far as one finds himself capable of it.

Nietzsche’s point is that the system has been set in place by the lowest denominator, for the benefit of the lowest denominator. Individuals are crushed in the flood of downwards oriented societies, ideas are throttled before they can be fully developed, humanity, as a race, declines. He argues that a superior man should not have to adhere to a code agreed upon by lesser men. His means may be immoral, if there is any such thing as a unified moral code for mankind, but his end is justification in itself. If the man becomes an Overman, then he is, in Nietzsche’s words, beyond good and evil.

Thus morality, in this view, becomes a tool of oppression rather than a code of coexistence. It becomes the crab’s claws that stop the other crab from getting out. It is the yolk of decadence that the lesser men would wish us all to be mired in for eternity. This was Nietzsche’s astounding claim. And thus it is that Nietzsche destroyed morality.

I return to the original question.

If there were a man, superior in intellect, superior in ability, superior in discernment, evaluation, devaluation, subtextual perception and a pure embodiment of power, what benefits will morality bring him?

The answer is: None.