Herd Instinct

I can see everywhere people would rather make a community than pursue their own individuality. He who realizes his own destiny and decides to follow his own path tends to be solitude in our present day societies because of the wide-spread herd instinct. People are afraid of leaping into the unknown to follow their own unique destiny because they do not want to be different from others. People always tend to choose easy way, but not hard one. Chasing real knowledge and following one’s own destiny are required the taste of solitude and loneliness – that is why people always ignore their inner calls. They are afraid of being solitude – that is why the herd instinct spreads all over the world like a blanket. Because of the herd instinct, the most important aspect of life is missing in present day societies: individualism. If one wants to realize his own unique path and follow his unique destiny, he must cultivate his individuality. Hermann Hesse was the man who preached the importance of individualism. He clearly explained the false communion:

He spoke about the spirit of Europe and the signs of the times. Everywhere, he said, we could observe the reign of the herd instinct, nowhere freedom and love. All this false communion – from the fraternities to the choral societies and the nations themselves – was an inevitable development, was a community born of fear and dread, out of embarrassment, but inwardly rotten, outworn, close to collapsing.

“Genuine communion,” said Demian, “is a beautiful thing. But what see flourishing everywhere is nothing of the kind. The real spirit will come from the knowledge that separate individuals have of one another and for a time it will transform the world. The community spirit at present is only a manifestation of the herd instinct. Men fly into each other’s arms because they are afraid of each other – the owners are for themselves, the workers for themselves, the scholars for themselves! And why are they afraid? You are only afraid if you are not in harmony with yourself. People are afraid because they have never owned up to themselves. A whole society composed of men afraid of the unknown within them! They all sense that the rules they live by are no longer valid, that they live according to archaic laws – neither their religion nor their morality is in any way suited to the needs of the present. For a hundred years or more Europe has done nothing but study and build factories! They know exactly how many ounces of powder it takes to kill a man but they don’t know how to pray to God, they don’t even know how to be happy for a single contented hour. Just take a look at a student dive! Or a resort where the rich congregate. It’s hopeless. Dear Sinclair, nothing good can come of all of this. These people who huddle together in fear are filled with dread and malice, no one trust the other. They hanker after ideals that are ideals no longer but they will hound the man to death who sets up a new one. I can feel the approaching conflict. It’s coming, believe me, and soon. Of course it will not ‘improve’ the world. Whether the workers kill the manufactures or whether Germany makes war on Russia will merely mean a change of ownership. But it won’t have been entirely in vain. It will reveal the bankruptcy of present-day ideals, there will be a sweeping away of  Stone Age gods. The world, as it is now, wants to die, wants to perish – and it will.”

“And what will happen to us during this conflict?”

“To us? Oh, perhaps we’ll perish in it. Our kind can be shot, too. Only we aren’t done away with as easily as all that. Around what remains of us, around those of us who survive, the will of the future will gather. The will of humanity, which our Europe has shouted down for a time with its frenzy of technology, will come to the fore again. And then it will become clear that the will of humanity is nowhere – and never was – identical with the will of present-day societies, states and peoples, clubs and churches. No, what Nature wants of man stands indelibly written in the individual, in you, in me. It stood written in Jesus, it stood written in Nietzsche. These tendencies – which are the only important ones and which, of course, can assume different forms every day – will have room to breathe once the present societies have collapsed.

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2 thoughts on “Herd Instinct

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this quote, and Nietzsche – that writer of crazy wonderfuls that I can hardly understand, but that I love. Great to see a reference to him!

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