Monday, August 02, 2004

Nietzsche on Revolution

Seeing as how I've been beating up on Nietzsche quite a bit lately, I thought I would quote a passage in which he is 'spot on':

A delusion in the theory of revolution. -- There are political and social fantasists who with fiery eloquence invite a revolutionary overturning of all social orders in the belief that the proudest temple of fair humanity will then rise up at once as though of its own accord. In these perilous dreams there is still an echo of Rousseau's superstition, which believes in a miraculous primeval but as it were buried goodness of human nature and ascribes all the blame for this burying to the institutions of culture in the form of society, state and education. The experiences of history have taught us, unfortunately, that every such revolution brings about the resurrection of the most savage energies in the shape of the long-buried dreadfulness and excesses of the most distant ages: that a revolution can thus be a source of energy in a mankind grown feeble but never a regulator, architect, artist, perfector of human nature....(Human, All Too Human, vol. I, sec. 463, tr. Hollingdale)

This unambiguous take-down of Rousseau's conceit according to which man is by nature good but corrupted by society and the state is something the Nietzsche-lovers on the Left should carefully consider.