The social form of the biological defense mechanism of mimicry is the ability to blend in with crowds, to adopt the manners and mores of social groups, to mimic conventional moral or social values. Such cleverness obviously has a high degree of survival value. Sometimes Nietzsche has been thought to contradict himself by arguing that the weaker or the unfit survive and reproduce while the fit and the stronger tend to perish. But there is no contradiction here at all. Independent, self-directed, intelligent, perceptive, creative, and solitary individuals who are able to go against the grain of the majority are stronger, fitter types of human beings individually. But they are no match for cooperative, dependent, uncreative, sociable majorities. Exceptional individuals who are, in the strict sense of the word, "unpopular" have "the majority against them." This is more or less the point that Emerson made when he quoted with approval de Boufflers' observation that the majority "have the advantage of number...It is of no use for us to make war with them; we shall not weaken them; they will always be the masters." Of course, a cultural world in which the majority are the masters is looked upon by Emerson, to say nothing of Nietzsche, as a deplorable state of affairs.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
One More Outnumbered