24 May 2009

Crime against Crime, in Nietzsche, Will to Power, § 740

by Corry Shores
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Crime against Crime

Friedrich Nietzsche

The Will to Power

§ 740
(Spring-Fall 1887)

To commit a crime is to revolt against the social order. But we do not punish rebels. We suppress them.
A rebel can be a miserable and contemptible man; but there is nothing contemptible in a revolt as such — and to be a rebel in view of contemporary society does not in itself lower the value of a man. There are even cases in which one might have to honor a rebel, because he finds something in our society against which war ought to be waged — he awakens us from our slumber.
So if a criminal commits one wrong against another individual, this is really a symptom of his greater war with the whole social order.

So because criminals are rebels, their punishment is suppression. But in a way, we honor criminals by punishing them.
a criminal is in any case a man who risks his life, his honor, his freedom — a man of courage.
Those who are truly criminals and permanently so should be castrated of their power. But those who are not so deeply criminal should be given a chance to make "his piece with society."

Rebels and criminals often misunderstand themselves. In fact, they often act dishonorably because they need to distance themselves from their rebellious acts out of the fear of failing to accomplish them. Hence we should not hold the criminal's bad manners or low intelligence against him.

Also, we should not judge someone according to just one deed. We too would have committed a crime under the proper circumstances. In fact, it would be a show of weakness if we could not kill a man when the circumstances encouraged it. Hence really criminals have strong and valuable traits. Weak criminals are a sign that our society is degenerating.

Finally, if we hold contempt for someone, we cannot help them self-improve. Hence we are committing a crime ourselves if we hold contempt for criminals.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Will to Power. Ed. Walter Kaufmann. Transl Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale. New York: Random House Vintage Books, 1967.

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