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Hicks — Egoism in Nietzsche and Rand


Both religion and socialism thus glorify weakness and need. Both recoil from the world as it is—tough, unequal, harsh. Both flee to an imaginary future realm where they can feel safe. Both say: Be a nice boy. Be a good little girl. Share. Feel sorry for the little people. And both desperately seek someone to look after them—whether it be God or the State.

So where, asks Nietzsche, are the men of courage? Who is willing to stare into the abyss? Who can stand alone on the icy mountaintop? Who can look a tiger in the eye without flinching?

Such men exist. Every generation produces its occasional magnificent men—sparkling, vital men who accept easily that life is tough, unequal, unfair, and who welcome asserting their strength to meet the challenge. Those who have unbending wills against anything the world can throw at them.

But such magnificent men seem to be few and far between in the nineteenth century, and Nietzsche wonders why. And he looks back on past cultures where the magnificent men dominated: strength was prized and inequality was a fact of life. Assertiveness and conquest were a source of pride. He names the Japanese feudal nobility as an example, with their samurai code of honor, and the Indian Brahmins who rose and imposed their caste system, the Vikings who raided ruthlessly up and down the European coast, the expansionist Arabs— and of course the awesome Roman Empire (GM, 1:11).

What explains this stark contrast? Why do some cultures rise to greatness and unabashedly impose their will upon the world—while other cultures seem apologetic and urge upon us a bland conformity?

Two Bio-Psychological Types

Part of the answer, says Nietzsche, is biological. All of organic nature is divided into these two types of species—those who are naturally herd animals and those who are naturally loners—those who are prey and those who are predators. Some animals are by nature sheep, field mice, or cows—and some animals are by nature wolves, hawks, or lions. Psychologically and physically, this divide also runs right through the human species. Some people are born fearful and inclined to join a herd—and some are born fearless and inclined to seek lonely heights. Some of us are born sedentary and sluggish—and some of us are born crackling with purpose and craving adventure

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