Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Friedrich Nietzsche: on disarmament


"The means to real peace.   No government admits any more that it keeps an army to satisfy occasionally the desire for conquest.   Rather the army is supposed to serve for defense, and one invokes the morality that approves of self-defense.  But this implies one's own morality and the neighbor's immorality;  for the neighbor must be thought of as eager to attack and conquer if our state must think of means of self-defense.  Moreover, the reasons we give for requiring an army imply that our neighbor, who denies the desire for conquest just as much as does our own state, and, who, for his part, also keeps an army only for reasons of self-defense, is a hypocrite and a cunning criminal who would like nothing better than to overpower a harmless and awkward victim without any fight.  Thus all states are now ranged against each other: they presuppose their neighbor's bad disposition and their own good disposition.  This presupposition, however,  is inhumane, as bad as war and worse.  At bottom, indeed, it is itself the challenge and the cause of wars, because, as I have said, it attributes immorality to the neighbor and thus provokes a hostile disposition and act.  We must abjure the doctrine of the army as a means of self-defense just as completely as the desire for conquests.

And perhaps the great day will come when a people, distinguished by wars and victories and by the highest development of a military order and intelligence, and accustomed to make the heaviest sacrifices for these things, will exclaim of its own free will, 'We break the sword,' and will smash its entire military establishment down to its lowest foundations.  Rendering oneself unarmed when one had been the best-armed, out of a height of feeling--that it is the means to real peace, which must always rest upon a peace of mind; whereas the so-called armed peace, as it now exists in all countries, is the absence of peace of mind.  One trusts neither oneself nor one's neighbor and, half from hatred, half from fear, does not lay down arms.  Rather perish than hate and fear, and twice rather perish than make oneself hated and feared--this must someday become the highest maxim for every single commonwealth too.

Our liberal representatives, as it is well known, lack the time for reflecting on the nature of man:  else they would know that they work in vain when they work for a 'gradual decrease of the military burden.'   Rather, when this kind of need has become greatest will the kind of god be nearest who alone can help here.  The tree of war-glory can only be destroyed all at once, by a stroke of lightning:  but lightning, as indeed you know, comes from a cloud--and from up high."

--Friedrich Nietzsche --
from The Portable Nietzsche
p. 71

A bit naive, isn't he?   Could this really work?  For example, could the US really unilaterally disarm today?  The last paragraph is somewhat confusing.  Is Nietzsche saying that only god could bring this about?  Is he suggesting that while disarmament is best, humans are incapable of achieving this? 

Many years ago I read an SF story in which a character stated that if WWIII is a nuclear war, then WWIV will be fought with clubs and stones.  Perhaps that cloud Nietzsche writes of is a mushroom cloud.

No comments:

Post a Comment