Margaret Sanger, "Frederick Nietzsche," Nov or Dec 1914.
Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Library of CongressLibrary of Congress Microfilm 130:0356."
This is a rough draft of a speech Sanger intended to give shortly after she heard a lecture on Nietzsche in Liverpool in November 1914. No final version has been found. Most of the quotes at the end of the documment are by poet and artist William Blake
The powerful mind of Nietzsche has exerted an influence in Europe which has made itself felt in all philosophy & letters of the past ten years.
His gospel of life has awakened new channels of thought in other writers & preached under the forceful, vigorous forum of aphorisms has broken loose from the dogmatic travels school which had dominated the world of Western thought since Kant.
The philosophy of Nietzsche has attracted attention in literary circles in France England America besides giving birth to literature abundant in quantity & varying in quality in Germany.
It is to me regrettable that such interest in him seems to remain outside the reach of the workers--for whom it is intended. Nietzsche philosophy not only calls in question the moral law itself it challenges & attacks the foundation of all moral law. Before this almost all schools of philosophy had been agreed upon the fact that a universal moral law exists.
Max Stirner was perhaps the first to deny the existence of it & preach the gospel of immoralism but Stirners name remains almost unknown to us.
But in Nietzsche lyrical enthusiasm in Zarathrustra he first called general attention to the fact that serious reasons exist for preferring the immoral to the moral--the untrue to the true.
Perhaps no where thru N-- philosophy can it be felt that he intended to deduce any sociological conclusions from his philosophy, rather did mean it as an expression of his ↑a↓ personality, ↑a↓ character & of a temperament-- But nevertheless we have a right to extract from this or any philosophy that which we can use for our own purpose & so I claim [the?] right of the worker to deduce [in?] Nietzsche's philosophy as much as they can use for their own.
It is impossible to apply his philosophy of Nietzsche or to study or know him before first getting an insight into the tremendous personality which so strongly reveals itself through every line of his work in every aphorism of his mind.
Sincerity & heroism are the two characteristics of Nietzsches personality and a third may be added a delicacy of sentiment & refinement. These characteristics give us a clue to his rupture with his once dearest friend Wagner. They give us a clue to his hatred of the democratic & plebian movement to his hatred of the Christian religion. "All or nothing" was his motto & he lived up to it.
As one of his biographers (Hill) has said of him
"Gifted with an extraordinary refinement of sentiment & taste; having set himself as an ideal Life itself, & Life in beauty, in plentitude, in power in exuberance of wealth; he was determined to be sincere with himself [at?] all & every cost, to examine every ideal, however ancient, however sacred its traditions, however universal its acceptance; to examine it to the bottom, to reject it if necessary at what ever cost of friendship or of suffering to himself; to affirm & reaffirm his ideal, that ideal which he held to be true; to affirm & reaffirm in the face of the whole world if necessary, without compromise.
To be able to do this--to be able to attack & reject all that which mankind has hitherto by almost universal acceptance, held sacred to be able to sacrifice all these ideas which tradition & education have rendered personally of value to be able to sacrifice friends that one loves & venerates on the altar of ones convictions--to do this requires courage above the ordinary--it requires heroism."
His refinement of taste his third great characteristic can not be submerged by the two other traits. He is essentially an artist. Some think him more an artist than a thinker or rather that his career as thinker is subordinated to his artistic properties-- He wrote poetry it is true he also loved music & composed some, but greater & more important than these was the fact that his whole conception of life was an artistic production conception.
He was born in 1844 at Richen in Germany.
I am not going into detail with the incidents of his biography only to relate here & there in passing the events which influenced his life.
As his father was a protestant pastor he naturally was brought up in a religious atmosphere. Th'o it was neither bigoted nor austere.
Its interesting to note in passing that ↑the↓ Nietzsche who hated Christianity & broke away from its chains, that he bitterly attacked the faith of his forefathers. He who proclaimed in all places & at all times that " God was dead" that he was beyond & above all religion & supernatural belief--yet by his great worship of truth by his idealization of life his fearless & intrepid sincerity that he was really activated by the deepest religious principles.
He was far above Churches & religion yet he believed in life, in life as a manifestation of Beauty he believed in principles & lived up to his principles.
His study of Greek did more than anything else to reveal Nietzsche to himself.
Already many writers might be named who owe if not half their ideas, at least half their courage to their ideas to Nietzsche. No other man is more representative of the spirit of his age (Emerson, Blake, Ibsen--) he was his age for he understood the mind of Europe.
Its significant that his main attack should be leveled against the foundations of European morality. The greatest immoralist the modern world has seen--he needed the dynamic qualities he possessed to stand alone against a continent & a tradition of 2000 years.
Passion the characteristic of his thought, Birth of Tragedy, his first book. No bombast--no out pouring of big words to cover up little ideas.
The greatest events he says are our greatest thoughts--the product of our stillest hour.
"The secret of a joyful life is to live dangerously."
Throw not away the hero in thy soul.
What is bad? all that proceeds from weakness. (Beyond Good & Evil)
Ascending & descending character. The need of salvation--is the sincerest form of expression of decadence.
Nietzsche sees the world becoming peopled with a ludicrous species--a tame, obliging sickly, mediocre kind of gently--grunting domestic animal.
What is good?--all that elevates the feeling of power--
What is bad? All that proceeds from weakness.
What is happiness? The feeling that power increases--that resistance is being overcome.
Philosophers have never dared to cast doubt upon the lawfulness of moral judgements--but it is Nietzsche who dares to declare war on all morals, mans instincts etc.
"There is a morality of Master & a Morality of Slaves-- Moral values have been determined either by a race of masters, conscious & proud of the distance that separates them from the ruled race--or by a crowd of subjegated ones, slaves, inferiors of all kinds." page 120 Gospel.
Man must retain all the knowledge aptitudes & new strength acquired in the course of his long & painful experience but he must break up the ↑tablet of↓ laws which at present hinder him in his march forward--he must renounce the present historical values, the Christian, democratic, ascetic ideal, & create Master values of his own. page 174 Gospel.
Power of laughter (a secret unknown) page 204 -- "Free dost thou call thyself."
Nietzsche--what he taught the worker
1st a teacher of Eternal recurrences Everything repeats itself, life, earth, solar system.
2nd He applied the principle of evolution to the extant system of morals.
3 He tried to trace the origin of our present day morals, & found that we must create a new ethics which are beyond good & evil.
4. He attacked the ↑morality of↓ Christianity perhaps more vigorously than any previous writer (Voltaire). He claims it teaches a slave morality & teaches a Master morality is higher to aim at. Yea to life in its fullness & all that is high, beautiful & daring.
Schopenhauer his ↑first↓ great teacher. He found a book & read it & became charmed & captivated, a devoted follower personality & his teachings.
One can scarcely separate a mans personality from his life--neither can we separate it from his teachings.
As a Philosopher--the government has always tended to capture & employ the Philosopher of its age, but what State would patronise Plato or Schopenhauer.
When you get to the Library get some of the works on Nietzsche-- You will understand the coming generation and what is in the air today when you have read & grasped his philosophy--for instance his liking our civilization (?) and character into three stages--the camel--the lion & the child.
The camel takes all the heavy loads & burdens & goes into the wilderness where he dwells in solitude & loneliness, but the weight of the burdens strengthens him & he becomes a lion & as Nietzsche says a "laughing lion"-- & "freedom it will take as its prey & be lord in its own wilderness."
"To create freedom for ones self--and a holy [?] even towards duty;--for this my heathern, there is need of a lion."
Again "a sense of truth in a sense of security."
Attraction & repulsion, reason & energy love & hate are necessary to human existence.
From these contraries come what is called good & evil.
Good is the passive that obeys reason evil is the active springing from energy. Good is Heaven, Evil is Hell.
Those who restrain desire do so because the desire is weak enough to be restrained. Reason usurps its place & governs the weak & unwilling. And being restrained, it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire.
Prudence is a rich old maid courted by incapacity.
The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
The fox condemns the trap--not himself.
Exuberance is Beauty.
Sooner murder an infant in the cradle than nurse unacted desires.
I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans. I will not reason & compare my business is to create.
The chains are the cunning of weak & timid ↑tame↓ minds.
These two Classes of men are always upon the Earth. They should be enemies whoever tries to reconcile them seeks to destroy their existence. Religion is an endeavor to reconcile the two.
The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water & breeds reptiles of the mind.
The significance of the individual--the significance of the consciousness of the ind. First that the individual is the original source & constituent of all value. No other standard of obligations for you or for me than that set by our personal ends & ideals.
"The triumph of life! The great yea to all things high beautiful, daring"!
"No one knoweth yet what is good & evil."
What a shock these words must have given Europe--Europe with its priestcraft popery & Culture-- No wonder indeed that the man who dared to thunder out the above words was considered a madman--good & evil--did not Europe know what it was.
Two lessons to be learned from Nietzsche--to understand Aristocracy & to acquire a subtle method of thinking.
His love of music was strong in him at an early age.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project