Master morality is so named because it was created by the ruling class, the distinguished, the aristocrats, and it essentially considers strength, power, and bravery to be “good. ” The “good” was created out of an affirmation and pride of their own power and honor. Additional attributes of those bearing the stamp of master morality are having a hard heart, being egotistical, intolerant and of distinguished origin, as well as emerging from a life of solitude. Those deemed as bad by the great men are those who belong to the lower class, who are characteristically common and mediocre in the eyes of the ruling class.
Conversely, slave morality, represents the masses and herds, in other words the tainted and mediocre stratosphere of Nietzschean society. It is so called because it is the lower class that created this morality system. This system considered kindness, pity, compassion, and peace as the “good. ” Instead of being a product of affirmation, however, the distinction between “good” and “evil” is made out of a sense of revenge against the strength of the upper class.
Naturally, those deemed as “evil” are those people who belong to the upper class, who are considered characteristically cruel, strange, and dangerous. Nietzsche, believed that Christianity, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, democracy and the subsequent equal coexistence in power and strength of humans was leading to society s decay and the rampant unnatural acceptance of slave morality. He asserted that humanity must rise “beyond good and evil” and regain respect for nobility and power if they were to excel.
Nietzsche wanted a social system with a leader type, a genuinely superior ruling class, with slaves as its basis, at the opposite social extreme. Throughout Nietzsche s work Beyond Good and Evil the reader discovers how the different themes apply to his concept of either master or slave morality. Religion: Nietzsche was an atheist, believing that Christianity blocked the free and spontaneous exercise of human instinct and will in the Western world, and that it was a religion of the mediocre, the herd or slaves, created by Jesus who became a slave of his followers, for he was both a god, and a man.
For once God, the divine master was no longer immortal and distinguished, stooping to the level of his flock, and dealing with the sentiments (he talks about Jesus love) and concerns of the ordinary and common masses, he was dead. The gentle morality of this faith and the subsequent equality between master (God) and slave (follower), were what made Nietzsche become aetheistic towards Christianity. Instead, Nietzsche insisted that the decay of religion (the “death of God”) required that humanity take responsibility for setting its own moral standards.
Modern Age Nietzsche opposed the modern age, for he saw it as sad, fostering a weak and mediocre society (slave morality) in which the ideas of old and the distinguished were unrecognized. He believed that the modern industrial, bourgeois society made humans decadent and feeble (slave morality) because it made them victims of the excessive development of the rational faculties at the expense of human will and instinct. Nietzsche saw the destiny of progress as mediocre as well, claiming that it didn t know what it was or what it wanted.
Nietzsche also opposed the common view of the time, namely social Darwinian theory, which claimed that through evolution, the biologically superior. i. e the strong, would survive and the weak would die out, creating a stronger species and society. In Nietzsche s view the strong should not have to overcome the weak. Instead the slaves and masters are each born into their place in society. Life should not be about survival but rather will to power. Men must dominate; they make changes, they do not try to preserve, not even themselves. This reflects the sad period of stagnation that Nietzsche lived in. Women:
To Nietzsche, woman were naturally second class to men, and they had an instinct for a secondary role. They were equated with Christianity and its slave morality in other words the masses. Women (slaves) looked up to their husbands and fathers (masters) for guidance and approval and believed that their love could save anything. Nietzsche believed that treating women as equals would contribute to the downfall of society. Whether Nietzsche was being misogynistic is debatable considering the time period he lived in. In my opinion, women were rarely born into the ruling class to assume leadership roles in the late 19th century.
About race (or racism): Nietzsche saw the European man progressing in simile herd-like, average, ordinary and common. He believed that true qualities were passed on from parents and ancestors, placing humans in either the master or slave morality category. Hiding behind the shroud of education and cultivation could only serve as a temporary tool of deception. Eventually, man would regain his natural place. Nietzsche was not anti-Semitic towards the Jews, instead he denigrated Judaism, the forefather of Christianity, because it was naturally just as mediocre as the Christian faith.
He also hated anti-Semitism, which he equated with slave morality, using jealousy, envy and revenge as tools of the masses. Intellectual compromise Nietzsche hated intellectual compromise. A true leader and intellectual such as he would not denigrate himself by associating or discussing with those of inferior views or rank because they are perfect. He felt that pseudo-intellectuals (he didn t like them) were once again creating a mediocre society by compromising with the weak, the dumb, the masses.
Nietzsche considered these men to be child-brained, irresponsible, sensual, enthusiastic, bearing all qualities of slave morality. Hitler Beyond Good and Evil is an extremely powerful text which due to its many hidden and convoluted messages would have effected, reinforced and contributed to Hitler s fascist ideology, despite a lack of intention to do so on Nietzsche s part. The themes on women, religion, the modern age, intellectual compromise, master morality vs. slave morality, and race, all draw stunning parallels to Hitler s Nazi regime.
The dissimilarities are, however, also abundant, and tend to constitute important elements of Nietzschean philosophy that Hitler either misunderstood or forgot to mention intentionally. In my opinion, Nietzsche was not describing or predicting Hitler s coming because Hitler would have been equated with slave morality type in Nietzsche s eyes. Nietzsche s society of slaves and elite masters certainly appealed to Hitler. A leader who created his own morals, dominated the weak without compromise (Jews, Gypsies, etc.. ), and was responsible to no one but himself, was in Hitler s eyes a self portrayal.
Hitler clearly considered himself the superman of Nietzsche’s prophecy. Nietzsche was, however, not eluding to Hitler. Master morality says that the powerful are born powerful and distinguished, Hitler wasn t, instead he emerged from a modest upbringing. Master morality also dictates that slave morality must exist so that the weak can be dominated by the strong. It does not, however, say that the weak (Jews, Slavs) should be exterminated by the strong (Hitler). Furthermore, master morality condemns Hilter s pseudo-intellectuality, and anti-Semitic belief system.
Finally, I believe that master morality does not elude to the single rule of one man over society, but rather the rule of an elite group, which deliberates and dominates on a high level as a collective body. Hitler ruled autocratically, disregarding all opposition. What Nietzsche was predicting with his philosophy of master morality is an ideal that has yet to be attained. No ideology or political leader in the 20th century, nor any other individual has managed to attain the pure image of which he spoke. Should destiny follow its course, the mediocre society will forevermore prevail, preventing the emergence of a ruling class.