Human, All-Too-Human

A Glance at the State

by Friedrich Nietzsche
Published 1878
Translation by Helen Zimmern
Published 1909-191


PRIDE OF DESCENT. -- A man may be justly proud of an unbroken line of good ancestors down to his father, --not however of the line itself, for every one has that. Descent from good ancestors constitutes the real nobility of birth; a single break in the chain, one bad ancestor, therefore, destroys the nobility of birth. Every one who talks about his nobility should be asked: " Have you no violent, avaricious, dissolute, wicked, cruel man amongst your ancestors?" If with good cognisance and conscience he can answer No, then let his friendship be sought.


SLAVES AND LABOURERS. -- The fact that we regard the gratification of vanity as of more account than all other forms of well-being (security, position, and pleasures of all sorts), is shown to a ludicrous extent by every one wishing for the abolition of slavery and utterly abhorring to put any one into this position (apart altogether from political reasons), while every one must acknowledge to himself that in all respects slaves live more securely and more happily than modern labourers, and that slave labour is very easy labour compared with that of the "labourer." We protest in the name of the "dignity of man"; but, expressed more simply, that is just our darling vanity which feels non-equality, and inferiority in public estimation, to be the hardest lot of all. The cynic thinks differently concerning the matter, because he despises honour : --and so Diogenes was for some time a slave and tutor.


LEADING MINDS AND THEIR INSTRUMENTS.-- We see that great statesmen, and in general all who have to employ many people to carry out their plans, sometimes proceed one way and sometimes another; they either choose with great skill and care the people suitable for their plans, and then leave them a comparatively large amount of liberty, because they know that the nature of the persons selected impels them precisely to the point where they themselves would have them go; or else they choose badly, in fact take whatever comes to hand, but out of every piece of clay they form something useful for their purpose. These latter minds are the more high handed; they also desire more submissive instruments; their knowledge of mankind is usually much smaller, their contempt of mankind greater than in the case of the first mentioned class, but the machines they construct generally work better than the machines from the workshops of the former.

Next Chapter: Man Alone With Himself