Might and Right

To the Editor of The SunSir: Dr. McKim makes out a poor case for Christianity and right vs. might. Might is the fundamental psychological and physical fact in the universe. All “right” must be backed up with might; but might is a law unto itself, hence its primacy. Might is definite, concrete, eternal; right, a purely relative, almost meaningless term, for what is “right” in one century is wrong in the next, and what is “right” in Smyrna may be a crime in New York, is chimeric, unstable, a by product of system, conscience and might.

All “right” has been established by might. This is an incontestable historical fact. Christianity itself began to lose its hold just at the point where it ceased to persecute and became a “moral force.” Its decline dates from the death of the power of inquisitions and the might of the hell threat. Every foreign missionary is backed by the might of his or her Government. The Consul, the Bible and the gun go hand in hand. That no “right,” legislative, religious, political or moral, can be established without a concrete might in back of it is such a commonplace in the mental world of those who think that an “argument” on the subject is useless. Might is the essence and the armor of “right.” Christ Himself knew that might was “right,” for He said He “brought not peace but a sword,” and when He drove the money changers out of the temple He used His fists. It may be said that he was justified in using and preaching might because He was “right.”

As to Nietzsche, he told the truth about the human race; no psychologist has ever been more ruthless, no passion wrought mind has ever dared to push Nietzschean poetry and psychology to its practical end. It means their extinction, for they who practise the “truth” are fools, daring fools, sublime fools, but fools, everlastingly fools. We survive by lying; and no one has said that oftener than Nietzsche.

Germany to-day, like Christianity, is a victim of ironic mimicry; one of those sublime pieces of unconscious and side-splitting buffoonery that history gives us every once in a while. There stands the mighty protagonist, alleged, of the German dream, Friedrich Nietzsche, subtle psychologist and mystical poet; a dancing, effulgent, Dionysiac spirit who embodied a smashing reaction against the vale of Tears doctrine; a realist, gigantic, frenetic. He unmasked. He was a revealer. Everything that lives wills domination of some kind. Power and life are synonymous. “Right” and “morality” are mirages, necessary mirages, masks, decoys. In “Zarathustra” Nietzsche stormed the ancient heavens and emptied them of their gods, already dead. Nietszche came when he was due, as does every great man on the planet. He was a fatality. Accept him or reject him; that is of no consequence. He was here, and his thought is soaking into us. That, too, is a fatality.

But the grim humor of it all lies in the fact that Germany believes that the Nietzschean philosophy was uttered for herself alone. This is the very comedy of the sublime. And from Valhalla the Poet of the Overman, whose humor was of that kind that created the “orestes” of Æschylus, the “Hamlet” of Shakespeare and the “Ghosts” of Ibsen, smiles his veiled and inarticulate smile over the shoulder of Machiavelli. And the whimpering idealists crawl over his boots like ants.

Benjamin De Casseres.
New York, December 27.


Source: The Sun, Dec. 28, 1914, Section 6 p. 6