There are three types of men in the world, the men who follow, the men who lead, and the men who write the speeches of the men who lead. These types of men, these social strata and societal roles, differentiate man from man, as one is nobler than another, higher than another. And yet, despite the discrepancies in quality, all these classes of men do exist, and indeed must exist in order for society to function properly.
In society, many tensions occur between these classes, and must occur, else these classes would lose their characteristics and identities, and so could not fulfill their functions. The primary tension has always been between the follower and the leader; the speechwriter’s purpose lies in the mediation of this tension. The modern crisis of authority grows out of the uncontrolled brutality of this conflict at present due to the lack of speechwriters.
Friedrich Nietzsche created the basic concept of these three classes, calling them the weak, or sick, the strong, or healthy, and the ascetic, respectively. The strong have the purpose of ruling society. These “blond beasts” possess all the strength, will, and ferocity necessary for such a task and remain the only class capable of fulfilling it. However, rulers need subjects. In fact, without subjects, without the weak, the strong could not express their strength. There could be no “pathos of distance,” and thus no true nobility (Nietzsche 462). Likewise, the weak could not exist without the strong, for they need guidance and authority. They even crave it, in a sense.
Yet, at the same time, the strong despise the weak and the weak hate the strong. This conflict, though quite natural, poses a threat to society itself. There must be someone to mediate this conflict, someone stronger than the weak, yet weaker than the strong and possessed of a few of the qualities of both, someone who may temper the harm that each would do the other, if their wills to power were left unchecked. Society’s answer to her conflicts is the speechwriter. He acts as the agent of society to “adjust the mutual relationships” of man to man (Freud 42).
The speechwriter himself is not a ruler, nor was meant to be (Nietzsche 546). He is one of the weak, not one of the strong. However, he distinguishes himself from his peers in that while most of the weak direct their wills to power outwards, he directs it back upon himself (Freud 91). Finding no outlet for his desire for domination, he turns to dominating himself (Nietzsche 520). This concept parallels Sigmund Freud’s idea of the superego, a part of the ego set up against and over the ego (Freud 84).
The power of his superego is the most notable thing about the ascetic. Though everyone develops the superego, in some it is more pronounced than others. In the ascetic, the superego gains the greatest predominance. As Freud observed, the more virtuous a man is, the stricter his standards of virtue (Freud 87). Herein, we see precisely the strength of the speechwriter: his free will.
Now, all men have free will, but only the ascetic has it effectively, for only he dares to test it. The ascetic alone has the courage to set out in search of the limits of his powers of self-mastery, a futile and endless journey, for he possesses no such limits. With each new attainment, more remains possible, and thus he goes onwards. Nothing in his path can block his progress, and the path he walks lies endlessly before him. Thus, he can never weary of himself, nor of his journey.
Freud’s opposing forces of Eros and Thanatos play themselves out in the ascetic (Freud 82). His asceticism is a denial of life and nature for the sake or preserving life, for the sake of escaping the rest of the weak and the weariness of life they invoke (Nietzsche 556). The ascetic finds in his self-denial a means of occupying himself and preserving the will to life, as well as making life and society possible for everyone (Nietzsche 556-557).
This man, the ascetic, remains a weak man, however, for the root of all this self-mastery is his ressentiment, his will to power turned against himself in the creation of his superego. Thus, he becomes, not one of the strong, but a caretaker of the weak and an advisor of the strong. He guards the strong against infection by the weak, and guards the weak from the full ambition of the strong (Nietzsche 560-561).
For the strong care nothing for the weak, seeing society as theirs, as the arena in which they may overcome themselves and seek the creation of a higher species of man (Nietzsche 395-396). This, naturally, would not be possible without the weak, as strength requires weakness. However, the strong largely forget or ignore this matter. The pursuits of these “blond beasts” can hardly be expected to contain constant foresight. Thus, the speechwriter makes his appearance.
The speechwriter, the ascetic, takes it upon himself to encourage his way of asceticism among the weak and the strong alike. He acts as the agent of the cultural superego (Freud 107). He seeks to instill in the strong a sense of duty to their inferiors. They must, naturally, be allowed to vent their will to power upon the weak, but they must maintain some semblance of temperance and moderation.
Thus, the speechwriter infuses a bit of the slave morality into the nobility at any chance it gets, introducing this and that bit of guilt into the leaders, convincing them to allow some lenience to their subjects (Nietzsche 562). To the strong, his advice seems credible, to one degree or another, because he is, though one of the weak, one of the strongest of the weak.
Likewise, he acts as the strong’s emissary to the weak. He explains and justifies the suffering which the strong impose upon the weak (Nietzsche 564). For this purpose, he conjures up and strengthens the power of the superego in the weak, convincing them that their suffering is their own fault (Freud 87). Indeed, he inculcates to them that need and desire for suffering and for authority which Freud thought common to all (Freud 100).
In both of these capacities, the speechwriter’s main characteristic is his ability to convince. He convinces the strong to reign in their will to power and sublimate it, while convincing the weak to turn their will to power against themselves. This talent for convincing lies within his station as the strongest of the weak. To the weak, he seems a guiding light, a promise of what they too might become, and a man who knows what is best for them. To the strong, he seems, though still one of the weak, a welcome change from the weakness they see below them so plentifully gathered, which they have the role of ruling over.
The speechwriter wields the powers of creation: “The bad conscience is an illness, there is no doubt about that, but an illness as pregnancy is an illness” (Nietzsche 524). The weak lack the will and strength to truly create things of great value. The strong, on the other hand, must create things, must have authority, that is, authorship. However, their strength gives them a higher focus, for what the strong create, most of all, is themselves, and through themselves, a higher man (Nietzsche 391).
The speechwriter, on the other hand, is free to create what lies in between. He forms art and culture and searches for knowledge and truth (for these searches are also creative processes). In this way, he once more serves society in the encouragement of the higher faculties and pursuits of man (Freud 47). He has the life energy, which he conserves by self-denial, to channel into his creations, while he himself cannot become a higher man (Freud 51). This urge, too, he denies in service of his art. He exchanges, as it were, his freedom for the focus required by creativity (Nietzsche 544).
The ascetic, furthermore, in his propensity for suffering, his love of suffering, is distinctly suited to stand between the weak and the strong. He possesses the fortitude to bear the abuse of each, as a sort of shield for both. He acts as messenger between the two, and as only a half compatriot of either, his status makes him a perfect target for the safe venting of the will to power.
The speechwriter can endure this, however, for his will to power is directed against himself and seldom finds any outward expression. Thus, since he suffers the attacks of all and never makes his own attacks on anyone, everyone generally finds him to be a most agreeable and pleasant fellow. Herein lies his marvelous power to convince.
He, the perpetual scapegoat, never takes on the role of aggressor. Thus, he may represent the case of both strong and weak to the other, and seem to empathize with the one while pleading the case of the other. Thus, one is inclined to indulge him, or rather, the men whose cause he pleads. His supreme art is the defense, his chief role as the apologist, the propagandist, in short, the speechwriter.
By far, the most important intellectual staple of societal life, which the speechwriter, naturally, instills in the people, is that of community, the concept of loving one’s neighbor. Nietzsche presents this concept as a “petty pleasure” which distracts one from the pain of life (Nietzsche 571); Freud presents it as a cheapening of love (Freud 57); and Mazzini, a first rate speechwriter, presents it as a societal necessity and divine commands (Mazzini 49). All three theorists, in one sense or another, are correct in their interpretations of it.
Indeed, communal feeling brings joy to the weak and helps to make life bearable, while also cheapening the emotion of love by encouraging its dispersal to all, indiscriminately. However, this community, this love of one’s neighbor, fills a useful social function by establishing ties between the weak, so they do not vent their will to power upon each other, at least, not overly much. Unconditional love of all dampens man’s aggressive urges (Freud 69-70).
Mazzini calls for the education of the people, and this is precisely the speechwriter’s task (Mazzini 10). This education, this conveyance of ideas and ideals, protects society from collapse. Naturally, the speechwriters must fulfill this duty, as they are the men of science, of art, of learning. They are the creative spirits, the men who live for their creations. This concept, itself, embodies the ascetic ideal, to live for something, rather than for oneself and one’s self betterment. This makes the personal sacrifice of one’s instincts for the sake of the community and the rule of law possible (Freud 49). This mutual sacrifice is accomplished by the creation of the superego.
In the modern age, more and more, the number of these men of learning, these ascetics, these speechwriters, diminishes. The sad reason for this is that we begin to doubt the will to truth, the belief that truth exists and is inherently valuable (Nietzsche 588-589). Without the desire to seek truth, to understand, to create, the ascetic loses his purpose in life, his reason for being an ascetic, for rising above the weak, even a little bit.
This position is quite understandable, for who could suffer the abuse of the weak and of the strong and, above all, of himself, if he saw it as a futile effort, a pointless task? Who finds the courage to embark upon such a journey with no destination? If the will to truth is shown to be pointless and illusory, how can the ascetic endure?
Thus, the old breed of speechwriters slowly dies out. As this happens, the natural consequences ripple through the system. One, or even both, of two possibilities results: domination by the strong or domination by the weak. Where the strong dominate, they ruthlessly tear down all ties of community and oppress the weak cruelly and with such vigor that they have little energy left over to focus towards their own self-overcoming (Freud 59). The weak become far too easy a target for the claws of the “blond beasts.”
Whereas, where the weak dominate, they succeed in corrupting the strong with slave morality, in encouraging weakness as a universal good and bringing on the terrible “weariness of man” (Nietzsche 580). In effect, one side wins the war between the weak and the strong, but this war has, heretofore, been the force holding society together.
Society thrives on differences, on distinctions, on separation, and above all, on the fact that all fight, all struggle, and no one ever wins. To win the war is to upset the very balance upon which society rests. The chief means of maintaining this balance is to deny the righteousness, and above all the intrinsic necessity of this struggle, altogether, as Mazzini does (19). Nietzsche proclaims, quite rightly, that the slogan of the weak is, “Supreme rights of the majority” and that of the strong, “Supreme rights of the few” (490). Both cries call for the greatest danger to society: the supremacy of rights (Mazzini 11).
Clearly, the loss of these speechwriters breaks down the barrier between weak and strong and the effects are universally calamitous. Just such a situation exists in modern America. More and more, the idea of asceticism gives way to the idea of instant gratification. The advent of decadence and wastefulness provides a sort of outlet for the will to power, but such sources cannot last long. Furthermore, scarcity prevents many from achieving the purchasing power (a common modern outlet of the will to power) necessary to truly satisfy them.
The increased militarism and outwardly directed anger of our society is another symptom of the absence of speechwriters. Having few ready-made scapegoats within the country, the will to power of both the weak and the strong directs itself outward, while at the same time venting casual, immediate hostility against the remaining speechwriters, hence the growing anti-intellectual ethos (Freud 72).
Before, by virtue of their numbers, the ascetics held a hallowed place, as friends and allies to both weak and strong. Now, seeming more an aberration than a class in themselves, both weak and strong have come to view them as the enemies of both, as the outsiders, as the eternal “other.”
The question remains: how may this problem be solved? The hope of society lies in a new breed of speechwriter: the aware ascetic. Until now, the ascetics have never examined themselves. They looked on their forms and saw seekers of truth, since they did not question the will to truth and the value of truth. Now that this question has sprung to their lips, what resolution can they create? What purpose can they give themselves?
The only answer which seems to appear is their making themselves stupid in order to maintain their strength of focus (Nietzsche 291-292). Their only option seems to be to ignore the “dangerous maybes” presented by the doubt of truth altogether (Nietzsche 200). To declare, emphatically, confidently, and truthfully, that such things do not matter (Nietzsche 201-202). For after all, the ascetic ideal, the position of speechwriter, is the highest advancement possible for the weak man. Also, to take on the role of speechwriter is to serve the community, and upon such little joys, ascetics have always depended.
In short, to preserve the will to truth, the ascetic must ignore the inquiry into the value of truth itself. To ignore this section of inquiry, ironically, is to partially deny the will to truth itself (Nietzsche 597). Thus, by this process, the will to truth is overcome for the sake of its own preservation, and that use of Thanatos for the sake of Eros, so intrinsic to the ascetic ideal, goes on.
(1)Throughout this essay, I use the word “men” and like terms in a sex- and gender-neutral sense, not as some of the theorists I discuss used them.