By Franklin C. West
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Extra resources for A Crisis of the Weimar Republic: A Study of the German Referendum of 20 June 1926 (Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society)
If Nietzsche is right, not only is evil not a thing; it is not originally even an imaginary term that anyone uses to characterize his or her own action. The dominant, aggressive masters in Nietzsche’s story do not set out to “do evil,” and they would originally never have applied the concept at all. “Evil” is an imaginary characterization used by the weak originally to describe the actions of others (who are oppressing them) and applied in a spirit of revenge. With the demise of the spirit of vengeance, the monochrome reduction of the world to “good” (light) and “evil” (dark) which it imposed would come to an end, and a world of complex coloration would appear.
They are just as characteristic, and maybe in some ways more characteristic, of the nobles. On the nobility of Nietzsche’s priests 39 could have done otherwise). The slaves thereby attain a framework within which it is possible to aﬃrm themselves as “good” (since they do not act aggressively like the nobles), and more centrally for Nietzsche, they also gain an expressive outlet for their ressentiment, at least in imagination, through condemnation of noble misconduct (Ridley 1998a: 26–40). ). While the ﬁrst phase of the revolt oﬀered some satisfaction for the slaves’ ressentiment, the revenge it provides remains largely imaginary, since the two main real sources of the slaves’ suﬀering – oppression by the dominant nobles and the social demand to repress their aggressive instincts – are not at all altered through moralistic indignation by itself.
The greatest haters in world history, also the most ingenious [geistreichsten] haters, have always been priests: – compared with the spirit of priestly revenge all the rest of spirit taken together hardly merits consideration. (GM, I, 7) Hyperbole aside – and however diﬀerent this may seem from some of Nietzsche’s more glowing characterizations of other nobles – it must be admitted that this reaction is very far indeed from the submissive acquiescence that is supposed to characterize the slavish mindset.