Human, All Too Human II
The Wanderer and His Shadow
284 The means to a genuine peace. -No government at present concedes that it maintains an army in order to satisfy occasional desires for conquest; instead, it is supposed to serve the purpose of self-defense. The morality that justifies self-defense is called upon as its advocate. But that means: reserving morality for ourselves and immorality for our neighbor, because he must be thought to be aggressive and imperialistic, if our state has to be thinking about the means of self-defense; moreover, our explanation of why we need an army declares him, who denies his aggressiveness just as much as our state does and for his part, too, supposedly maintains an army only for reasons of self-defense, to be a hypocrite and a cunning criminal, who would be only too happy to launch a surprise attack upon a harmless and unskilled victim who was unable to resist. Thus, all states now stand opposed to one another: they presuppose their neighbor’s bad intentions and their own good intentions. This presupposition, however, is a sort of inhumanity, as bad as and even worse than war itself: indeed, it is basically an invitation to and cause of wars, because, as I said, it attributes immorality to our neighbor and seems thereby to provoke hostile intentions and behavior. We must renounce the doctrine of the army as a means of self-defense as fundamentally as we renounce the desire for conquest. And there may come a great day when a people distinguished by war and victory, and by the highest cultivation of military order and intelligence, and accustomed to offering the heaviest sacrifices ro these things, voluntarily cries out: “we are shattering the sword” – and smashes its entire military way of life, down to its deepest foundation. Making ourselves defenseless when we were the best prepared militarily, out of a loftiness of feeling-that is the means to a genuine peace, which must always rest upon peaceful intentions: whereas the so-called armed peace, as it now proceeds in every country, implies nonpeaceful intentions, trusting neither ourselves nor our neighbor and, half out of hatred, half out of fear, not laying down our weapons. Better to perish than to hate and to fear, and twice better to perish than to make ourselves hated and feared-this must one day become the supreme maxim of every single political society! – Our liberal representatives of the people, as is well known, lack the time to reflect upon the nature of human beings: otherwise they would know that they work in vain if they are working for a “gradual reduction in the military burden.” Instead: only when this sort of misery is greatest will the sort of god also be at hand who alone can help us here. The tree of martial glories can only be destroyed all at once, by a sudden flash of lightning: lightning, however, as you surely know, comes from the clouds- and from the heights.