Nietzsche on
Equilbrium & Justice

Human All Too Human - The Wanderer and his Shadow 22

The robber and the man of power who promises to defend us against the robber are probably at bottom very similar beings, except that they obtain what they want in different ways. The man of power gets his money by being paid regularly to protect the people from the robber. The same could be said of pirate and merchant, where the merchant also attempts to get his goods at no more than the operational costs or lower. The important thing is that the man of power maintains an equilibrium with the robber and it is this state of affairs the people feel secure. It is preferable as paying the man of power is a lot better than facing complete destruction at the hands of the robber. The community was originally the organisation of the weak for the purpose of maintaining an equilibrium with the powers that threaten it. An organisation which attempted to become so strong that it could destroy the threatening power once and for all would be desirous if there were only one threat or the battle could be won quickly or else it would consume vitally needed time with which to provide for their daily requirements. Equilibrium is thus a very important concept for the oldest theory of law and morality- it is the basis of justice. When in earlier ages justice says: 'an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth' it presupposes that an equilibrium has been obtained and seeks in this way to preserve it. On the contrary by virtue of the right of retribution the equilibrium of the disturbed power relationship is restored because in more primitive times one more eye was an advantage. Within a community in which all regard themselves as equivalent there exist other means of maintaining an equilibrium. If one enriches or procures an advantage by improper means then by the disgrace incurred when caught, disadvantages are now reaped which outweigh the advantages and thus equilibrium is restored. Another means is that of punishments such as imprisonment and punitive fines where the point is not only one of retribution. It is also to treat the transgressor as an outcast who isn't entitled to the moral privileges of society and by doing so reminding him of the harshness of the state of nature.