Monday, December 29, 2014

Nietzsche on Modern Marriage and Romance

This sounds like bigoted, misogynistic conservatism to modern ears:


The things that make an institution into an institution are despised, hated, rejected: people think that they are in danger of a new sort of slavery when the word 'authority' is so much as spoken out loud. The value-instincts of our politicians, our political parties, are so decadent that they instinctively prefer things that disintegrate, that accelerate the end ... Witness modern marriage. It is clear that modern marriage is completely irrational: but this is an objection to modernity, not to marriage. The rationality of marriage lay in the fact that the husband has sole juridical responsibility: this gave marriage a centre [sic] of balance, while today it limps on both legs. The rationality of marriage lay in its principled indissolubility, which gave it an accent that knew how to be heard above the accidents of feeling, passion, and the distractions of the moment. The rationality also lay in the family's responsibility for choosing the spouse. With the growing indulgence of love matches, the whole basis of marriage has been eliminated, the very thing that made it an institution in the first place. You never, ever base an institution on an idiosyncrasy, and, as I have said, you do not base marriage on 'love',—you base it on the sex drive; on the drive for property (woman and child as property); on the drive to dominate that keeps organizing the family (the smallest unit of domination), that needs children and heirs in order to maintain (even physiologically) the measure of power, influence, and wealth that has been achieved, in order to prepare for long tasks, for a solidarity of instincts between the centuries. Marriage as an institution already affirms the greatest, most enduring form of organization: when society cannot work as a whole to extend an affirmation to the most distant generations, marriage has stopped making sense.—Modern marriage has lost its meaning,—consequently, it is being abolished.


Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, in The Anti-Christ, Ecee Homo, Twilight of the Idols and Other Writings, ed. by Aaron Ridley and Judith Norman, trans. by Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 215.

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